Thursday, March 18, 2010

Green Power sweeps away Green: Tidal Power Plant

Tidal Power Plant threatens hundred thousands shorebirds and their habitats

Han-river estuary meets extensive wetlands surrounding islands, such as Ganghwa-do, Kyodong-do, etc. This area provides internationally important habitats for migratory birds on the East-Asian Australian Flyway, which are estimated around 100,000 shorebirds and at least 10 endangered species every year. It might be recommended as Ramsar Sites according to the international criteria.

However, MLTM(Ministry of Land, Transportation and Maritime Affairs), Incheon City is now propelling Tidal Flat Power Plant, a mega-construction work with 7 dams stretching from islands to islands over 20km. It would be the largest construction work on the sea since Saemangum reclamation. The construction work will damage at least 20% coastal wetlands.

This will degrade and devastate habitats and roosting places for lots of migratory birds. Blackfaced Spoonbills[Platalea minor], the population of which is about 2,300 in the world, lay eggs on the islands and feed their babies. About 10% of world population of Oyster Catcher[Haematopus ostralegus osculans] and Eastern Curlew[Numenius madagascariensis] is observed on this wetlands And other endangered species, such as Chinese Egret[Egretta eulophotes], cranes, spotted sandpiper, Spoonbilled Sandpiper[Eurynorhynchus pygmeus].

Even Lens, a French city, stopped to construct more tidal power plants after construction of 750m long dam on the sea, cause it definitely devastates marine ecosystem.

Friday, December 11, 2009

World Wetland Network's Letter on the 4 Rivers Project of Korea

11th December 2009

Dear President Lee Myung-Bak, Mr. Prime Minister Mr. Chung Un-chan, Chung Jong-hwan, Minister of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, and Mr. Lee Maanee, Minister of the Environment,

Re: Four Rivers Project, Republic of Korea (ROK)

The World Wetland Network (WWN), established at the Ramsar COP10 in Changwon, is a rapidly growing network of over 200 wetland Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) from across the world. A central committee of representatives from each continent, plus technical advisors, meets on a regular basis to plan, feedback and exchange information.

As a global network of wetland specialists, the WWN would like to advise the ROK government to cancel the Four Rivers Project.

In Europe, the US and Japan, there were numerous river engineering projects in past decades which included straightening river channels, dredging river beds, putting in built water management structures and re-enforcing banks. The world has since learnt from these mistakes. Disconnecting rivers from their flood plains, straightening and deepening them has led to huge problems with floods, erosion, poor water quality, changing ecological systems and reduced biodiversity, not to mention disconnecting local communities from their rivers. This of course also has an economic and human cost.

While the Four Rivers project in the ROK has been described as a ‘restoration’ project by its proponents, it is clear to the WWN and to all wetland experts around the world that the construction of new dams and river dredging cannot be called restoration. Further, the construction of bicycle trails and resort areas proposed as part of the Four Rivers project will increase disturbance to sensitive species and systems. As proposed, the Four Rivers project will lead to a massive loss of biodiversity and cause enormous environmental costs, some of which will be immediate, and others which will emerge longer-term as the rivers and watersheds can no longer function in a natural way.

The Four Rivers project, with its emphasis on construction is clearly contrary to the wise use principle that Ramsar promotes, and ignores existing Ramsar guidance on wetland restoration and management, environmental impact, and community involvement (e.g. resolution X.19: Wetlands and River Basin Management; VIII.16: Principles and guidelines for wetland restoration; resolution X.17: Environmental Impact Assessments; and resolution VII.8: Guidelines for establishing and strengthening local communities’ and indigenous people’s participation in the management of wetlands). In addition, it is clearly “unsustainable development” that will prevent the ROK from fulfilling its obligations to numerous international agreements, including Ramsar, the Millennium Development Goals and the Convention on Biological Diversity .

In contrast to the ROK Four Rivers project, in Europe, the Water Framework Directive is reversing these types of hard-engineering works, at great expense, to revert to a more naturally functioning, catchment-based approach. All member nations of the European Union have implemented the Water Framework Directive into their national policies. In the US, water companies now manage catchments to improve water quality, regulate flow naturally, and reduce the risk of flood. The WWN is happy to provide this information to decision-makers in the ROK, in order to assist the nation in its moves towards wetland conservation and wise use.

We therefore strongly urge the ROK to reconsider the Four Rivers Project. It is not too late to stop the destructive works, and to value your river systems as the natural treasures and providers that they are. It is not only in the interest of the ROK to do so, but also in the interest of all the nations of the East Asian - Australasian Flyway, and of all contracting parties to the Ramsar Convention.


Chris Rostron, Chair of WWN
Melissa Marin, Neotropics Representative, WWN
Esteban Biamonte, Secretary, WWN
Peter Lengyel, Europe Representative, WWN
Baboucarr Mbye, Africa Representative, WWN
Cassie Price, Oceania Representative, WWN
Tsuji Atsuo, Asia Representative, WWN
Becky Abel, North America Representative, WWN
Kashiwagi Minoru, Technical Advisor, WWN
Luc Hoogenstein, Technical Advisor, WWN

Friday, November 13, 2009

Opposition parties’ lawmakers ramp up to defeat Four Rivers Restoration Project budget

DLP Lawmaker Woo Wi-yeong calls it the worst civil engineering project ever, and DP lawmakers prepare legal actions to suspend construction

The Hankyoreh Posted on : Nov.10,2009 12:06 KST

Opposition parties’ lawmakers, who have been demanding the termination of the “Four Rivers Restoration Project” that the Lee administration announced will begin Tuesday, are calling the project a dictatorial scam and have launched a full-scale campaign to suspend construction, including filing for an injunction. Moreover, opponents to the Four Rivers Restoration Project have agreed on a plan to cut the entire 23 trillion Won budget for the project with the exception of the 1 trillion Won earmarked for water quality improvement.  

Democratic Party (DP) Chairman Chung Sye-kyun slammed the Lee administration during a party supreme council meeting Monday, and said he was enraged that the administration’s dictatorial behavior was manifesting in pet projects such as this one. He added the administration has questioned why the public refers to it as a “dictatorship,” but the label is fitting when it decides to move forward unilaterally as it is doing now.

Chung said the administration had not conducted a proper feasibility study or a cultural properties study, and it conducted a slap-dash environmental impact assessment on the 634-kilometer area, completing it in just four months with unconvincing findings. He also said that the parliamentary screening of the budget put fourth by the administration has yet to begin, and that it is intorelable that the administration has commenced construction for the Four Rivers Restoration Project based on the assumption that the National Assembly will be passing the budget bill in its original form.

The DP is also actively considering filing an administrative suit or applying for a provisional disposition to suspend the project, which is suspected of being the “Grand Canal” project in disguise. During the party’s supreme council discussion on the Four Rivers Restoration Project, Lawmaker Park Ju-seon provided the argument that it violates the National Finance Law, the Rivers Law, the Basic Law on Environmental Policy and the Korea Water Resources Corporation Law.

The DP is also warning of a “budget struggle” in an attempt to cut the Four Rivers Restoration Project budget. An official connected to the party’s parliamentary leadership said the DP’s position is that it cannot allow the 23 trillion Won earmarked for the project, with the exception of the 1 trillion Won for flood damage and water quality improvement.

In a statement Monday, Woo Wi-yeong, spokesperson for the Democratic Labor Party, called the Four Rivers Restoration Project the worst civil engineering project since the time of Dangun, as well as the greatest scam. He said the arrogance and go-it-alone tendencies of the administration that is pushing forward with project construction, regards the project as an established fact, and believes it can hush up any further debate on the matter has come to a dangerous place.

We cannot bear the responsibility of allowing the destruction of the four great rivers

[Editorial] We cannot bear the responsibility of allowing the destruction of the four great rivers

The Hankyoreh
Posted on : Nov.10,2009 12:04 KST Modified on : Nov.10,2009 12:06 KST

The Four Rivers Restoration Project begins in earnest today. The construction is to begin immediately, after seemingly waiting for the findings of the Ministry of Environment‘s (MOE) environmental impact assessment. All sorts of concerns about reductions in water quality and destruction of the environment were completely ignored. It appears it is impossible to hope for any more rational discussion with an administration that remains obstinate about pushing the project.

Just imagining the effects of executing the Four Rivers Restoration Project as planned is horrible. Instead of flowing, river water will rot as it is trapped behind dams and weirs, while the wildlife growing on the riverbanks will die under dikes of concrete. Most of the aquatic ecology will be destroyed as river floors are dredged, and it is clear that the terrace land by the four rivers will be suffocated underneath cement as 1,700 kilometers of bicycle routes are built. Indiscriminate developmentalists are mangling our four main rivers, the Han, Nakdong, Guem and the Youngsan, which should be wholly preserved and bequeathed to our descendants.

The greatest responsibility for the Four Rivers Restoration Project coming to this point lays with President Lee Myung-bak. He is using his success with the Cheonggyecheon restoration project accomplished during his time as Seoul mayor to push forward this project. The restoration of the Cheonggyecheon, no more than a neighborhood stream, and the restoration of the four great rivers that feed the lands of southern Korea, are incomparable matters. The aim to complete this project that will cost taxpayers an estimated 20 trillion Won in just two to three years is nothing more than an act of greed intent on achieving a project of scale during his term. The four rivers are about to be destroyed as a result of President Lee’s egoism that stems from ignorance about the environment.

Minister of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs Chung Jong-hwan and Environment Minister Lee Maan-ee will be unable to escape historical responsibility as accessories to the destruction of the four rivers. Chung, who styles himself a “Little MB” to a sickening extent, has been pushing the Four Rivers Restoration Project using all sorts of expedients and illegalities. In particular, Lee, by tacitly approving the environmental destruction caused by the Four Rivers project, has abandoned his role as Environment Minister. He will be recorded as a blot on South Korea’s history of environmental policy.

At any rate, construction for the Four Rivers Restoration Project commences today. It will soon be revealed just how much the four rivers will be destroyed as a result. We cannot just standby and watch it happen. To do so is ultimately no different than participating in the destruction of the four rivers. For this reason, just as the full-scale launch of the Four Rivers Restoration Project takes place today, so must the launch of a full-scale fight to save our four great rivers.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

South Korea approved 11 new coastal reclamation projects

The government of South Korea approved 11 new coastal wetlands reclamation projects on November 9th. 1,058,000㎡ of coastal wetlands will be reclaimed to provide lands to renewable energy project, shipbuilding industry, port redevelopment, road construction, etc.

As you can see from the table above, some of the public waters and coastal wetlands will be reclaimed to provide lands for private investors and developers such as shipbuilding and energy companies. Because they can possess the land formed by reclaiming public waters and tidal flats, many South Korean companies want to reclaim coastal areas for their own economic benefits.

The natural environment of the Garorim Bay will be affected severely due to the new reclamation project linked to the Garorim Bay Tidal Power Project, especially on tidal flats of 8,000 ha in the bay.

The problem is that such a destructive energy project is promoted by the South Korean government in the name of it's Green Growth National Vision. (

South Korea was the host country of the 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Wetlands, last year. The Resolution X.22 'Promoting international cooperation for the conservation of waterbird flyways' was adopted at the Ramsar COP10 which states that the Conference of the Contracting Parties "WELCOMES the statement by the Republic of Korea to the 35th meeting of Ramsar’s Standing Committee that intertidal mudflats should be preserved and that no large-scale reclamation projects are now being approved in the Republic of Korea, and ENCOURAGES all Contracting Parties in their efforts to protect such habitats in future and to monitor them and mitigate any past development impacts on or losses to them".

The government of South Korea approved 11 coastal wetland reclamation projects of 8.1㎢ in March this year and approved 11 new reclamation projects of 1.06㎢ again, the day before yesterday. It is hard to believe that South Korean government is following its own statement and the resolutions of the Ramsar Convention.

Such destructive reclamation projects should be stopped in a country with Green Growth National Vision.