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Baikal Teal Main Wintering Area in South Korea Under Threat
URGENT CONSERVATION APPEAL
07 December 1999
by Lee, Jeong-sik and Nial Moores
Help us to protect the World's Most Important Site for Baikal Teal Anas formosa, and a wintering area for Oriental White Stork Ciconia boyciana.
We, of the The Haenam Group for the Conservation of Haenam's tidal-flats and Waterfowl, South Korea, and Korean Wetlands Alliance are writing to ask for your immediate support. [Update October 2000: The Korean Wetlands Alliance has been reorganized into a new (and much better!) group called Wetlands and Birds Korea (Dead URL).]
The Haenam region is located in the south-west of the South of Korea (see map) and consists of relict tidal-flat areas, extensive rice-fields and three reclamation lakes. One of these, Yongam Lake, has the last significant remaining areas of reed bed and shallow pools. The Haenam region is probably the most important wintering area for waterfowl nationwide - with an estimated 300,000 plus individuals and 7 species in internationally important concentrations (as defined by the Ramsar Convention). The most significant of these is the Baikal Teal Anas formosa. 168,000 were counted in one flock in January 1999: 160% of the then-suspected world population!
With continuing degradation of other areas in Haenam, most of the waterfowl this winter are concentrated into a few hundred hectares of Yongam Lake, at Dangduri. Surveying in late November at Dangduri, Yongam Lake revealed:
Oriental White Stork Ciconia boyciana 8
This core area at Dangduri has been recently recognised as having great value by local government (who want to work with the local community in conserving the area), and even by the national government's Rural Development Corporation (which is responsible for road and drain building associated with rice-field development in the area). As a result, they promised to stop work in the winter to reduce disturbance to waterfowl. The Rural Development Corporation are also developing a master-plan for the area, which they will present to government in February 2000.
However, in the past weeks, the RDC have increased their activities, and appear intent on driving the waterfowl out of the area. This would allow them to present their master-plan based on the fact that further "improvements" will not cause harm to waterfowl populations.
Please help us to prevent the loss of this critical area by distributing this message to friends and other listserver groups and by e-mailing messages of support to ecohaenam[at]hanmail.net or spoonbill[at]hotmail.com focusing on 1) the area's importance to regional and global biodiversity 2) requesting that all further "improvements" (such as road and drain building) stop immediately (incidentally, the Rural Development Corporation is also responsible for the world's largest ongoing reclamation - the 40,100 hectare Saemankeum project 100 km to the north: a similar international e-mail campaign early in 1999 helped delay that project for 1 year, thanks to your help); and asking for 3) all relevant groups to cooperate in developing an effective master-plan for the area which would both conserve waterfowl and encourage eco-tourism in the region.
With many thanks,
Lee, Jeong-sik, The Haenam Group for the Conservation of Haenam's tidal-flats
Wetlands and Birds Korea (Dead URL)
[Of further interest, a same day count in November 1999 at two sites, Haenam
and Cheonsu Bay, gives a suggested Korean Baikal Teal population of 250,000 -
270,000 - a new high].