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Saemangeum Madness Worsens

Golf complex will drive Korean wetland to oblivion

The controversial Saemangeum wetland reclamation project in South Korea has taken another twist. The massive reclamation project originally intended to create new agricultural land on the bird-rich mudflats. However, the end result has always been dogged with controversy with many commentators pointing out the serious environmental consequences and unsuitability of the new land for rice-growing. Finally, it seems that some of this advice has been taken on board. However, the outcome for this internationally important area of coastal mudflats ? home to more than 400,000 migrating shorebirds ? is likely to be equally bleak.

In an attempt to boost tourism in the region, the Provincial Government has submitted plans to turn Saemangeum into the world`s largest golf complex ? covering a staggering 540 holes (30 full courses). Work on the complex is set to start in 2006.

Richard Grimmett, Head of BirdLife International`s Asia Division said: The Saemangeum project will have one of the biggest environmental impacts of any construction project in Asia over the coming decade. It will mean the loss of tidal mudflats and a feeding area for vast numbers of shorebirds on their East Asia-Australasian migration, and will impact fisheries and livelihoods in the Yellow Sea. He added, To learn now that the land is not for rice production, but for golf, is a final blow. However, it is not too late to halt this project since the dykes have not been closed and we hope that the Korean government will finally conclude that it is in the best interests of the environment to do so.

4th July 2014