Saemangeum update

Great KnotBirds Korea and the Australasian Wader Studies Group have just completed part of their monitoring programme of migrating birds at Saemangeum. A key conclusion:

many Great Knot have been displaced by the Saemangeum reclamation, and have subsequently failed to stage through the remainder of the spring at either Gomso Bay or the Geum Estuary — contradicting the bland claims made by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in 2003, that shorebirds displaced by the Saemangeum reclamation will simply move to Gomso Bay and the Geum.

One of the leading lights of Birds Korea is British-born Nial Moores. According to the Korea Herald,

Moores, the first and only full-time foreign environmentalist in Korea, is in charge of survey, public relations, education and fundraising of Birds Korea while accompanying the role of a visiting research fellow and lecturer at Sungkonghoe University in Seoul.

Hankyoreh photo of Saemangeum: sea foam devoid of life washes up on the Geojeon tidal flatsBirds Korea’s public relations campaign has been particularly energetic over the past few weeks including

presentations in Mokpo with the local branch of KFEM (one of Korea’s leading enviornmental organisations); visits to the British and Australian Embassies; interviews with media (most notably with the Korea Herald); an informal photo exhibition at Wonkwang University

The RSPB has picked up the story and has a report on its website, which offers a small crumb of hope:

Sluice gates have been built into the Saemangeum sea-wall, which if kept open would save at least part of the wetland. [Birds Korea] is urging people to write to the South Korean embassy in the UK calling for the sluice gates to be kept open.

Ms Park Meena, National Coordinator of Birds Korea, said: ‘Saemangeum could be a huge lure for eco-tourists from all over the world if it was restored. The birds are still coming and parts of the site are still alive so there is a chance we can save it.’

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