To Whomsoever it may concern,
Birds Korea is a specialist organization dedicated to the conservation of birds and their habitats in Korea and the wider Yellow Sea Eco-region, with approximately 300 domestic members and 450 overseas members from over 30 nations worldwide.
We are writing to express our deep and growing concern at the anticipated impacts of the proposed Korean Grand Canal on several nationally and globally threatened bird species, and on the habitats of these species, which include many sections of the nation’s four largest rivers (the Nakdong, the Han, the Geum and the Yeongsan), their estuaries (at least three of which are internationally important for waterbirds as defined by Ramsar “Wise Use of Wetlands” criteria), and ecologically-dependent wetlands in their floodplains, including Upo Ramsar site.
We respectfully request, as an organization, and on behalf of an additional 131 non-members (who, as of March 25th, signed an online petition to that effect), that:
A full and independent assessment be conducted on the Korean Grand Canal project, and its anticipated impacts on wetland ecosystems and on biodiversity;
Further, we urge that such analysis and the resultant decision (on whether to proceed, modify or cancel the Grand Canal project altogether), be fully in line both with existing (pre-Special Law) national conservation laws, and also with guidance provided clearly in the Articles and Resolutions of the Ramsar Convention;
In accordance with Ramsar Convention Articles 3.2 and 8.2 C, Birds Korea respectfully advises that the national government/Ministry of Environment inform the Ramsar Bureau at the earliest opportunity of the possible threat by the Korean Grand Canal project to the ecological character of Upo Ramsar site.
[We note in this regard that the Ramsar Convention represents best international practice (towards sustainable development of wetlands), and Contracting Parties (i.e. governments), by joining the Ramsar Convention are publicly and formally accepting its guidance.
Moreover, having joined the Convention (in 1997), and now preparing to host the next triennial Ramsar Convention conference (in Changwon City, October 28th-November 4th, 2008), it is clear that the Republic of Korea is especially aware and respectful of the Ramsar Convention, and its processes and its expertise.]
Birds Korea, March 22nd, 2008.