Lodge a Protest at www.restoresaemangeum.com
You may have heard me Ôbang onÕ about the Bar-tailed Godwits that migrate to Australia and New Zealand from Alaska, flying all the way without resting, across the Pacific Ocean. Well other shorebirds are not so macho about their migration and stop for a rest. ÒWimpsÓ, I hear you say! Wimps or not, many of our shorebirds (or waders) breed in arctic Siberia and their migration has evolved around a spell resting and feeding up in the extensive wetlands around the Geum estuary in S. Korea before tackling the second stage of their migration to Australia. Of these, the Saemangeum wetland was the most important, providing resting and refueling habitat. Korea has now completed a 33km wall to prevent the sea reaching this wetland as it wants the land for development. Careful monitoring has proved that the rhetoric ÒThe birds will move elsewhereÓ, is not true.
The Saemangeum area has regularly supported at least 27 species of waterbird in Ramsar-defined internationally important concentrations. During northward migration in 2007, one year after sea-wall closure, it still supported over 88,000 shorebirds with 13 of these species in internationally important concentrations, including the Spoon-billed Sandpiper. With continuing deterioration, the site will be unable to support many shorebirds. With the sea-gates fully open, with improved tides and reduced water pollution, it will be able to retain some of its international importance.
Developing nations need to develop, just as developed nations did before them, but probably sending several species of shorebird to extinction by doing it and breaching international agreements that S. Korea has signed concerning the preservation of this international flyway makes one wonder whether other places for development might not be a better option? It is not yet a decision Ôset in concreteÕ and public pressure may yet convince the S. Korean government to leave part of this wetland for the shorebirds, which is why IÕm writing this!
If you think the shorebirds you enjoy in the Coorong and other such places in Australia are important, please log onto the www.restoresaemangeum.com website and register your protest via the dialog box provided. The numbers of these international protests could make all the difference to S. KoreaÕs decision! Birds AustraliaÕ Australasian Wader Studies Group are trying to achieve 40,000 protests, one for every hectare affected by the sea wall.
Rob Tanner 8339-2835