This is a video of a scaly-sided merganser.
Korean delegation highlights proposed canal impacts
Representatives from three Korean organisations have visited BirdLife International in Cambridge to highlight the environmental impacts of the proposed Korean Grand Canal Project.
Buddhist Environmental Solidarity, Eco-Horizon Institute and Birds Korea all gave presentations detailing how this project is predicted to impact on wetland biodiversity and questioning whether it is economically viable, and reported that popular opinion in Korea is against the project.
The proposed first stage would cut across the country from Seoul in the north-west to Pusan in the south-east. This would involve significant amounts of dredging to deepen the shallow rivers for the use of large container ships, thereby destroying much of the current rivers’ biodiversity. It would also affect the hydrology of the rivers, impacting large areas of wetlands.
The first phase of the canal scheme would be 553 km long with 19 locks and 16 dams and would include a 26 km tunnel involving a boat lift. The second phase of the project would involve a second canal to the south-west of the country.
Many species would be affected by the building of the canal including the Endangered Scaly-sided Merganser Mergus squamatus. There would be severe effects on several important sites, including up to 11 Important Bird Areas notably Upo wetland which has been designated as a Ramsar site.
The presentations also revealed that South Korean President Lee Myung-bak had recently suspended the project given the environmental impacts and the concerns of the Korean public. This bold decision is especially timely as the 10th Meeting of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands entitled “Healthy Wetlands, Healthy People” will meet in Changwon, Republic of Korea from October 28 to November 4.
“We are very concerned about the potential impacts of the Grand Canal on threatened birds and other biodiversity”, said Dr Mike Rands, Director & Chief Executive of BirdLife International.
Migratory birds in Korea: here.