Suncheon, Republic of Korea

Initiative: Suncheonman bay wetland conservation project

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In 1996, when the Dongcheon Estuary Maintenance Project and Aggregate Collection project were approved, the Suncheonman Bay Conservation Movement began as a campaign against them by local NGOs and academia. Suncheonman Bay Committee, a civil-academic council led by civic groups, was established, and as a result of the continuous conservation campaign, it led to the cancellation of permission for projects in 1998 and laid the foundation for Suncheon Bay conservation. Since then, various legal and institutional strategies have been established to conserve Suncheonman Bay. The legal and institutional protection systems currently applied are listed in chronological order below.

  • History of Suncheonman Bay Wetland Conservation.
    Permission for aggregate collection project in 1996 as well as Dongcheon Estuary Maintenance Project.
    Being observed of rare international migratory birds such as storks, hooded cranes, and black-haired seagulls in 1996.
    In 1997, the civic movement against aggregate collection project. Held the 1st Suncheonman Bay Reed Festival.
  • In 1998, the permission for the aggregate collection project at Dongcheon was revoked.
  • Proposal for designation of wetland protected area and registration of Ramsar Wetland in 2003
  • Suncheonman Bay wetland(28㎢) registered as Ramsar Wetland, the first Korea coastal wetland in 2006
  • Establishment of the first Suncheonman Bay Efficient Conservation and Sustainable Use Plan in 2008
  • The official destination of Ramsar General Assembly in 2008 and the World NGO Competition were held.
  • Designated as Korean Cultural Heritage Scenic Spot No. 41 in 2008.
  • In 2009, a rice paddy wetland near Suncheonman Bay & its estuary(7.7㎢) were designated as ecosystem conservation district.
  • 2013 Suncheonman International Garden Expo was held (April 20, 2013 ~ October 20, 2013).
  • 2015 Suncheonman Garden Designated as Korea’s first National Garden. Dongcheon Estuary registered as a wetland protected area.
  • Registered as Ramsar Wetland in Dongcheon Estuary in 2016 (5.4))
  • In 2017, Applied the entire Suncheon-si for registration as a UNESCO biosphere reserve.
  • Promoted the registration of the southwest coast island tidal flat as a World Natural Heritage Site.
  • In 2018, the entire city of Suncheon was designated as a UNESCO biosphere reserve.
    Suncheonman Bay Mudflat registered as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2021.

Suncheonman Bay is a wetland with various habitats such as a river’s brackish water area (where rivers enter the sea and mix with seawater), salt marsh, wide reed field, and tidal flat, and 239 species of birds are observed. Of them, 33 species are rare, endangered birds worldwide and live on the nature of Suncheonman Bay.

The Suncheonman Bay Conservation Movement provided an opportunity to newly recognize the value of reed fields and tidal flats, and Suncheonman Bay has become a representative ecological resource in Suncheon. As a result, Suncheonman Bay’s ecology has evolved into a world-class ecological tourist destination beyond Korea.