Suncheon is host to the 2023 Suncheon International Garden Expo, which is open now until October 2023
With the removal of environmental pollution facilities and restoration of wetlands in Suncheonman Bay, the diversity of species and habitats in Suncheonman Bay was expanded, it emerged as a representative ecological tourist destination in Korea.
According to the 2014 “Economic Value Assessment for Ecological Restoration of Suncheonman Bay (Hwang Min-seop, Korea University Graduate School and two others), analyzing the travel costs (ecotourism) of tourists visiting Suncheonman Bay generated 174.7 billion KRW in annual benefits.
Adjusting and maintaining the underground water level
Water that has passed through the low layer of the wetland is filtered out in the process of flowing into the groundwater layer. The water introduced into the groundwater layer is directly used as household water, agricultural water, and industrial water, and prevents the inflow of brine from the coast.
Prevents flooding and supplies water
Wetlands acts as a reservoir that accumulates excess flood volume during floods, and plants in swamps delay the flow of water, prevent extreme changes in river flow rates, and alleviate flood occurrence. (In the event of a flood, 1ha of wetland stores a depth of 120 mm.) Natural wetlands have an economic effect of reducing dams, reservoirs, and irrigation facilities, and they can provide living water, agricultural water, and industrial water due to the relatively stable amounts outflow.
Maintaining and protecting water quality
It suppresses eutrophication, which is emerging as a major problem in lakes. Wetlands improve water quality by accumulating nitrogen and phosphorus. Therefore, maintaining wetlands reduces the need to build drainage treatment facilities, and can be used to treat small-scale household wastewater. These nutritive salts accumulate in wetlands during the slow flow of water which increase the reproduction of fish or birds to maintain the survival of wetland creatures and promote the growth of agricultural products, and during the fast flow of water, they leak from nutrients from wetlands to become a source of nutrition for the creatures of downstream or coast.
Suncheon city has steadily restored wetland by purchasing land in areas expected to be developed around wetland protection areas. All duck farms that contaminated water quality and restaurants near wetlands were closed down. The city pulled out all 282 electric poles from nearby agricultural lands for migratory birds visiting Suncheonman Bay. And rice harvested by eco-friendly farming was purchased by the city and provided as food for cranes.
The restored wetland provides benefits such as controlling and maintaining groundwater levels, suppressing flood, supplying water, and maintaining river water quality protection to nearby residents, and provides habitat to various wetland creatures including rare extinct birds.
In 2008, Suncheon city divided the space compartment into four major areas, centering on the river (Dongcheon) that vertically connects the city centre and Suncheonman Bay, and reflected them in the urban plan.
In order to preserve the Suncheon Bay wetland, restaurants and residential facilities that were operated close to the reed forest were relocated, the restrictions on visitor vehicles were taken effect. And 282 electric poles were removed for biodiversity of wetland creatures. In addition, paddy wetlands were created by restoring landfills, agricultural lands, and wetlands in the riverside area. In 2015, the farmland in the Dongcheon estuary adjacent to Suncheonman Bay and 5.394㎢ of river estuary were designated as national wetland protected areas and registered as Ramsar wetlands in January 2016. And Suncheon city established an integrated wetland management system linking major ecological axes of wetlands such as coastal wetlands, estuary wetlands, and paddy wetlands.
Enactment of the “Ordinance on the preservation Management and Support Project of Suncheonman Bay Wetland”
The Suncheonman Bay Protection Citizens’ Conference, consisting of more than 30 civic groups in Suncheon, received a petition from residents in October 2010 and they passed the nation’s first ordinance submitted by citizen in March 2014. The petition required 5,218 signatures from citizens for ordinance request process, but more than 9,200 signatures was submitted.
In the process, numerous civil-private and academic governance (Suncheon City, Maritime Development Institute, Suncheon National University, Jeonnam Eastern Community Research Institute, Suncheon Environmental Movement Union, and Suncheon City Council) were held.
“Ordinance on the preservation Management and Support Project of Suncheonman Bay Wetland” was passed in March 2014 to restore the healthiness of the Suncheonman Bay mudflats and increase the awareness of wetland preservation among coastal residents.
Suncheonman Bay Wetland Committee (2007~present)
The Suncheonman National Garden, created to prevent the expansion of Suncheon City, attracts more than 5 million tourists every year. And the number of international rare migratory bird wintering in Suncheonman Bay wetlands increased from 80 (99′) to up to 3,400 (21′).
(Farmland) Create a habitat for hooded cranes led by residents.
(Tidal Flat) Production of various seafood products
The efforts of Suncheon city to preserve wetlands and tidal flats re-examined the value of tidal flats, and in the 2010s, the paradigm of national policy shifted from reclamation to preservation. The five local governments (Suncheon, Sinan, Boseong, Gochang, and Seocheon) adjacent to the tidal flat jointly applied for UNESCO World Heritage registration in January 2018 but were rejected because there were not enough heritage zone and buffer zone. Accordingly, each city and county held a joint briefing session and made efforts to expand the heritage zone and buffer zone through heated discussions. With these efforts, the World Heritage Committee, which consists of 21 member countries, unanimously decided to register the five mudflats as a World Natural Heritage Site in July 2021 in recognition of their outstanding universal value.
Introduction of the electric propulsion ecological experience boat.
As the nature of Suncheonman Bay Wetland recovers, many visitors are currently using the ecological experience boat with internal combustion engine to tour Suncheonman Bay. However, Suncheon City aims to provide tourists with an eco-friendly experience without fumes and noise in 2023 by building two 20-ton electric propulsion ecological experience boats for the first time in the country in an effort to minimize damage to wetlands and nature.
Eco-friendly means of transportation, “Sky Cube”.
Sky Cube, an eco-friendly means of transportation connecting Suncheonman National Garden to Suncheonman Bay Wetland, is in operation to limit vehicles entering Suncheonman Bay due to 3 million visitors to Suncheonman Bay every year.
Reeds Trail Expansion
Carbon absorption in salt wetlands such as reed fields is five times higher than that of general forests. The reed forest, which was 500 km2 in 1997, increased to 5,600 km2 due to the continuous conservation projects.
Turning the riverside into the wetland
Farmers cultivated rice by reclaiming the riverside as farmland, and pesticides were used as needed. It eventually damaged not only wetland creatures but also nearby residents. Suncheon-city has purchased private land along the river and recreated it as a reservoir to use it as a shelter for migratory birds.
Turing the farmland into the wetland
Jeolgang Wetland in Suncheonman Bay was used as agricultural land, but it was recreated as a shelter for migratory birds that matches with the beauty of Jeolgang River.
Turning the sand beach into the wetland.
In Suncheonman Bay, there was a sandy beach where waste soil from the aggregate collecting project was accumulated, and it was left as a garbage disposal site until 2009. Suncheon-city purchased the land from the central government agency and created it as a migratory bird shelter with central government funding
Restoration of inland wetlands in Dongcheon Estuary
In order to expand the Suncheonman Bay biological habitat and create a shelter for migratory birds during high tide, the land around the Suncheonman Bay wetland protection area was purchased by Suncehon city and the wetland restoration was promoted.
Suncheonman Bay Coastal Wetland Restoration
Local residents participate and share benefits through revitalization of the local economy such as high value-added fisheries and ecotourism, as well as expanding the repository of life through mudflats restoration, not just seawater resources distribution.
Suncheonman Bay Clean 365 project
Suncheonman National Garden, an eco-belt, was created in between downtown and Suncheonman Bay and the Suncheonman International Garden Expo was successfully held in 2013 which leads to a sustainable development system that has been established with profits from revitalized the local economy.
Accessibility of Suncheonman Bay’s ecological health is increased to the city centre and the entire city is ecologically remodelled.
Monitoring hooded cranes wintering in Suncheonman Bay Wetland.
Suncheonman Bay was designated as a wetland protection zone in 2003, and Suncheon City joined The East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) since 2004 to conduct research and monitoring activities (operating programs to observe hooded cranes visiting Suncheonman Bay in winter) and exchange information on habitats.
(Disaster prevention) Creation of Suncheonman National Garden
(Economic Effect) Economic ripple effect analysis