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Saemangeum Estuarine System (Republic of Korea): Before and After Reclamation


Saemangeum is the name coined in the 1980s to promote a controversial 40,100 ha reclamation project on the west coast of the Republic of Korea (ROK). The project entails the construction of a 33.9 km long outer seawall (accredited as the world’s longest man-made barrier) to impound two free-flowing estuaries in order to create 29,000 ha of land and a reclamation reservoir. In their natural state, these estuaries supported approximately 330,000–570,000 shorebirds annually and the livelihoods of 20,000–30,000 fishers and shell-fishers. Following seawall closure in 2006, there was a catastrophic decline in shorebirds supported by the site, and research found no evidence that the majority of affected birds were able to relocate to other sites in the ROK. Rather, substantial declines have been recorded at the population level in some shorebird species. Local fisheries have also been lost. Currently, construction on the inner dikes is continuing.


  • Korea
  • Reclamation
  • Impacts
  • Shorebirds
  • Fisheries
  • Declines

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Correspondence to Nial Moores .

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Moores, N. (2016). Saemangeum Estuarine System (Republic of Korea): Before and After Reclamation. In: Finlayson, C., Milton, G., Prentice, R., Davidson, N. (eds) The Wetland Book. Springer, Dordrecht.

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