South Korea's Saemangeum Estuary is the most important stopover for shorebirds along the Yellow Sea. At least 27 species of birds rest and feed at this midway point during their migrations along the East Asia-Australasia flyway.
Saemangeum is also the site of a land reclamation project where 400 square kilometers of tidal flats-an area six times the size of Manhattan-is to be converted to rice fields and freshwater reservoirs. While the South Korean government says this will boost food production in this economically depressed region, conservationists and scientists say the project will cause long-term declines in populations of many of the shorebird species that visit Saemangeum. This Bulletin shows how the completion of a 33-kilometer-long seawall on April 21, 2006 has changed this estuary.