Activities by NGOs and CBOs : South Korea
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Cases of governmental activities Activities by NGOs and CBOs


Activities by NGOs and CBOs Republic of Korea

Name of Activity Overview

The opposition of reclamation of the Saemangeum tidal flat

Located on the west coast of Korea, some 200 kilometres south of Seoul, the tidal flats of Saemangeum are a crucial feeding area and habitat for more than 50000 shorebirds, including species with international importance (e.g. the Alaskan-breeding Dunlin, the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, the Spotted Greenshank, the Great Knot). The tidal flats are also a breeding ground for 158 fish species as well as for many crabs and seaweed.The Saemangeum project, planned in 1986 and launched in 1991, set out to reclaim part of these tidal flats to make rice fields. The project covers an area totalling 400 km²,composed of 282.42 km² of tidal land reclamation and a desalinated reservoir of 117.62 km², including 33 km-long sea dikes. The project has been the focus of intense criticism and opposition for many years, provoking protests by individual citizens and by NGOs such as KFEM.In 2000, the project was temporarily halted while an expert panel conducted an environmental review, but in 2001, it was started again. The same year, the Presidential Commission on Sustainable Development suggested reviewing the project. The lower court ruled to suspend the project in 2003. But the high court allowed the project to resume in 2004. Meanwhile, the government rejected the administrative court's earlier suggestion to conduct research, including on the environmental and economic consequences of the project. The administrative court issued an injunction to cancel or alter the original plan in February 2005. The future of these tidal flats is not yet certain.In 1997, the total cost of the Saemangeum project was estimated at KRW 820 billion, It is now reaching KRW 3.5 trillion

Dam construction or ecosystem preservation?

Dong River is a 51km-long snaking stream that runs from Jeongsun County to Yeongwol County. Yeongwol County, located at the point where the Dong and Seo rivers converge, is vulnerable to damage from recurrent floods. In 1999, a three-day torrential rainfall (393 mm in total) resulted in flooding that killed 31 people, injured others and caused damage amounting to KRW 148.5 billion. This triggered a heated debate whether to build a dam on the Dong River. Local residents, local governments and environmental organisations had different views of the proposed dam project, so in September 1999, the government organised a public-private survey team to reassess the proposal. After extensive studies and opinion polls, the team concluded that preservation would be more beneficial than dam construction. In June 2001, the government cancelled the dam construction plan. In August 2002, it designated the Dong River Area (65km²) as an ecosystem preservation area and initiated comprehensive measures for its environmental management, including improving living conditions for local residents