Management contracts underway nationwide
As the bio-diversity management contract system applied to the Junam Reservoir is reaping tangible results, it is having a ripple effect on other parts of the peninsula. The project was first introduced in 1999, intended to provide a stable supply of food for winter birds visiting the reservoir.
At the time, migratory birds ate grain on rice fields in the vicinity of the wetlands, to the annoyance of farmers. Some farmers who suffered damage even set fire to their fields.
Then the idea that farmers plant barley to feed birds on their post-harvest fields in exchange for compensation materialized. The project was selected by the Seoul government as a model case for ecological preservation in 2002. Therefore, 30 percent of the funds needed for the project could come from national coffers, while the regional government only covers 35 percent. This, in turn, accelerated the dissemination of the project throughout the nation.
At present, 19 local governments implement the project. It can now be safely said the all major reservoirs and migratory bird habitats, including Gangwha-gun (Incheon), Cheonsu Bay (Seosan), Guem river estuary( Gunsan), Suncheon Bay, the Haepyeong wetlands (Gumi), and the Upo wetlands (Changnyeong-gun), are benefiting from this program.
This year alone, Changwon poured 50 million won into the project, to ensure that 273 farmers leave some stacks of straws on 188 hectare lands to shelter winter birds or plant barley or radishes to feed them.
In the same vein, the city also prohibits fishing near the wetlands during the time migratory birds visit the area, apparently to prevent them from destroying the natural habitat. It offers 170 million won in compensation every year to 22 fishermen in Naesu-myeon, Dong-eup, to limit fishing activities.
The city, in a move to eradicate future sources of contention for good, including deterring land price hikes and agricultural damage, is now gradually buying the nearby farmland. The areas subject to purchase will stretch to 280 lots or 556,260 square meters, mainly rice fields.
Since 2008, it has purchased a total of 55 lots or 86,062 square meters of land, which provided 11 tons of rice, produced by contracted farmers to feed the birds as well as give stable shelter for the birds during winter.
City officials said, “For the sake of preserving living organisms and the expansion of bio-diversity near the wetlands, we will succeed with the current policies.
“Not only with proper policies such as feeding and sheltering birds but also through adequate management programs, will we attract various kinds of birds into the area.”