Under the proposals endorsed by newly inaugurated President Lee Myung-bak, three large canals would be constructed, he largest of which, the Gyeongbu Canal, would cut South Korea in two lengthwise, connecting Seoul in the north west to Busan (Pusan) at the south east tip of the peninsula and plough through a mountain rage with the construction of a 26km long underground tunnel and a 17 km long artificial, concrete waterway. Despite the fact that final plans have not been drafted nor has an Environmental Impact Assessment been conducted (as required by law) President Lee pledges to complete the Canal during his 5 year term.
President Lee hopes to boost economies along the canal as well as the national economy by supporting the construction industry and transporting commodities through the canal. The Gyeongbu Canal would be one of the largest infrastructure projects in Korea’s history, and would create a 540km scar on the Korean landscape as it connects the Han and Nakdong River systems. This project would require the excavation and constant dredging of these rivers to maintain a depth of 6.1 meters, and would widen the rivers to as much as 300meters in order to accommodate the planned 5,000 ton cargo ships.
If completed, the Canal Project and pollution from the heavy cargo ships would seriously threaten the drinking water of 24 million people and damage the river ecosystems that have been separated by mountain ranges. These rivers and wetlands provide vitally important habitats for 58 wildlife species specifically protected by Korea’s own environmental legislation because of their rarity and importance to the Korean nation. The Han River estuary, the Nakdong River estuary and Upo Wetland, a Ramsar Site, would be seriously affected, along with the globally threatened and endangered species that depend on them.
According to a Gallup Korea poll reported on 11th February, 2008, showed that the Korean people want to preserve their rivers and wetlands – 49.2% of Korean people oppose the project, and only 30% support it.
Friends of the Earth Korea/ KFEM are asking you to support this action.
It only takes 2 minutes to ask the Korean president live up to his name as an environmental hero by stopping this project now. Simply fill in the form below to add your name to a petition that will be sent to President Lee Myung-bak.
sign the petition:
I wish to express my deep and sincere concern about your proposed Great Korea Canal Project. I strongly urge you to cancel your plan to construct a series of canals in order to link the four largest river systems in South Korea.South Korea has the opportunity to lead East Asia in environmental sustainability. Instead, your proposed Great Korea Canal Project will show the world that your administration is not committed to preserving the environment for future generations. Also, South Korea is not only a signatory to the Ramsar Convention for wetlands of International Importance, but will also host the next Conference of Parties of the Ramsar Convention in late October. Given the internationally important wetlands that would be destroyed by your proposed canal project, South Korea will be subject to international pressure to uphold and respect the Ramsar Convention and Convention on Biological Diversity, and give up this wasteful project.
Time Magazine chose you as an environmental hero in November 2007. Your proposed Great Korea Canal Project makes it seem as if Time Magazine made a mistake. I would like to ask you to show the world your new leadership in environmental protection as an environmental hero by canceling the canal project.