10 Spoon-billed Sandpiper at Okku. Birds Korea's Nial Moores was at Saemangeum again: perhaps 10(+) Spoon-billed Sandpiper (all adult except for 1 juvenile, and all unflagged) and a single Nordmann's/Spotted Greenshank were seen.
This brings the number of Spoon-billed Sandpipers seen at Okku on just four visits to at least 13 adults and 4 juveniles - though given "turnover rates" of migrating shorebirds through Okku the actual total will be higher. This surely confirms, if confirmation were needed, just how critically-important this threatened wetland really is.
We will of course be using this data in our Saemangeum campaign.
7 Spoon-billed Sandpipers at Saemangeum. Birds Korea's Nial Moores was at Saemangeum today with a group of overseas birders. Amongst the 6000+ shorebirds there they found 7 Spoon-billed Sandpipers (4 adults and 3 juveniles - none of them flagged) and 2 Nordmann's/Spotted Greenshank.
Saemangeum Court Date announced. A press-release from Korean NGO KFEM has just been released stating that the date for the next part of the Court trial to decide Saemangeum's future will be held on October 31.
Previously, in the third court trial on August 25, the pro-reclamation Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and anti-reclamation environmentalists "debated" whether optimum water quality could be maintained in Saemangeum if the reclamation is completed - concerns over water quality being one of the principal factors behind the suspension of the reclamation on July 15. MAF argued that because of water purifying technology, river water and lake water could be purified and used for farming and rice irrigation whilst the environmentalists pointed out that pollution levels in the Mangyeung and Dongjin Rivers are already rising (from sources upriver including industrial waste and phosphorus run-off from livestock sewage) even before the sea-wall is completed.
To support their claims MAF have applied to call Bart Schultz (see below), the former head of the International Academy of Irrigation and Water Supply, and several Korean professors as witnesses. Obviously they will need time to get their arguments sorted out - hence the newly-announced October 31st date - which also of course gives KFEM, Birds Korea, and the other groups fighting the reclamation more time to counter whatever MAF and their witnesses might come up with to justify destroying one of the world's most important tidal-flats...
Because of this delay, a final decision on Saemangeum is now not expected to be made in 2003.
Prof. Dr. Bart Schultz
Netherlands National ICID Committee
Directorate General for Public Works and Water Management
Civil Engineering Division, P.O. Box 20000
3502 LA Utrecht
Tel : +31 30 285 8932
Fax : +31 30 285 8195
Birds Korea "Rebutting MAF's arguments" Report posted. As the next step in our part of the fight against the reclamation, we have today posted a major report, "Saemangeum: A rebuttal of MAF's arguments". The report anticipates and then rebuts what we feel certain will be MAF's main arguments that the reclamation (a) will still attract and support migrant shorebirds, and (b) is essentially an environmentally-friendly project.
The Report has had invaluable input from some notable shorebird experts, including Drs Clive Minton, Phil Battley, Niall Burton, David Wells, and Geoffrey Welch. The report will be translated into Korean by colleagues at KFEM, and distributed to the Korean media. A PDF version is available on the site if you'd like to download a copy.
TVE'S "Dike Hard" available on video. The hugely important "Dike Hard" programme which looks in depth at the Saemangeum Reclamation project is now available on video from TVE.TVE has a well-established distribution system which makes tapes of their materials available to virtually every country in theworld.
Prices vary according to where the video is being bought, and whether it is being bought by an individual or an organisation.
TVE accept payment by credit card (Visa or MasterCard), by cheque or by bank transfer - but not online as yet. For details/ordering information, please contact Dina Junkermann at firstname.lastname@example.org
Further information about the film is online at www.tve.org/earthreport/archive.
"Dyke Hard" is also online in both English and Korean.
(Thanks to Jamie Newlin for making the initial enquiry)
The UK Foreign Office's view of the Saemangeum reclamation. UK Member of Parliament James Gray has forwarded a letter from Bill Rammell, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, responding to questions about Saemangeum he asked on our behalf.
Mr Rammell states that the UK Foreign Office is "strongly supportive of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance" and is "committed to its implementation". He goes on to say that "as far as the particular case of Saemangeum is concerned, South Korea, as a signatory to the Ramsar Convention, would be answerable to the Ramsar Bureau. Specific questions of non-compliance would not therefore be resolved through bilateral contacts bewtween signatories".
Whilst our thanks go to Mr Gray MP, this answer is somewhat disappointing - though not entirely unexpected.
This month, Allan Archer's talk:Wildlife website hosts an interview with Birds Korea's Charlie Moores on the Saemangeum reclamation and discusses why our strategy is designed the way it is.
There's also a chance to win one of three "Birds of South Korea" videos in a free-to-enter competition!
talk:Wildlife has consistently followed the Saemangeum saga, and is definitely worth a visit.
September's "BBC Wildlife" Magazine (average monthly circulation in 2003 = 41,700), "British Birds" Magazine, and Sweden's "Vår Fågelvärld" each carry a "News Item" on Saemangeum, and the URL for the Birds Korea website.
Sheffield Bird Study Group are releasing a newsletter, asking "Are you doing your bit?" for Saemangeum.