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Garden protects ‘repository of ecosystem’ Suncheon Bay

Garden protects ‘repository of ecosystem’ Suncheon Bay

Posted September. 01, 2015 06:52,   


Autumn has come to a vast garden created on the area of 1.11 square meters in Poongdeok-dong and Ocheon-dong in Suncheon City, South Jeolla Province. In the garden where 860,000 trees are planted, 650,000 autumn flowers including roses, colorful sunflowers and cosmos, which have grown under the sunlight in summer are now coming into full bloom against the blue sky.

The garden was created in 2013 to protect Suncheon Bay, which is a repository of various species in the ecosystem which is 5 kilometers away from the garden to the sea. Since the opening of the Suncheon Bay Garden Expo in 2013, the garden has become a tourist attraction where 10 million people have visited over the past two years. The garden is now designated as the first National Garden on September 5, going beyond serving as a greenbelt for Suncheon bay and aiming to lead the Korea’s garden industry.

○ The repository of various species in the ecosystem

Suncheon Bay is a coastal wetland formed in the mouth of a river flowing into the sea around Daedae-dong and Haeryong-myeon in Suncheon City. The bay is composed of a 2.26 million square-meter-wide tideland and a 5.4 million square-meter-wide field of reeds. The tideland and reed field of Suncheon Bay are the habitat for 240 birds, including hooded cranes, Saunders’s gulls and eastern curlews, and some 300 species living in the wetlands. As one of the world’s top five coastal wetlands, Suncheon Bay was registered on the list of the Ramsar Wetland in 2006 and designated as the state-designated Cultural Property Scenic Site No. 41 in 2008.

In 2002, the number of visitors to Suncheon Bay was around 100,000 throughout the year. In 2010, the number of tourists to the bay has soared to 3 million per year. Due to a surge in the number of visitors, the bay has suffered from vehicle emissions and noise.

Local residents put their heads together to come up with how to protect the wetlands and reeds in Suncheon bay. They had an idea to create a garden, 5.2 km away from the bay toward the city, as a buffer area. By attracting visitors from the bay to the garden, local citizens tried to protect the ecosystem in Suncheon bay. After holding the Suncheon Bay Garden Expo in 2013, they named the garden "Suncheon Bay Garden."

After creation of the garden, the number of tourists to the bay has decreased from 2.35 million in 2013, 1.5 million in 2014 to 1 million as of August 2014, which contributes to protection of ecological environment. On the contrary, the number of visitors to Suncheon Bay Garden has been consistently around 3 million per year, from 4.4 million in 2013, 3.5 million in 2014, to 2.95 million as of August 2015, helping vitalization of the local economy. “It is too early to say that Suncheon Bay’s ecosystem has been restored in three years," said Kim Joon-seon, the dean of the College of Life Science and Natural Resources at Sunchon National University. "But it is true that elements which may put pressures on the environment have decreased."

○ Suncheon’s brand, National garden No.1

Suncheon City is to hold events to celebrate Suncheon Bay Garden’s designation as the National Garden No.1 at Seoul Square on September 4. Starting with performance of Nongak players, the traditional Korean music, screening a video for PR, a briefing on the progress of designation as the National Garden, and music concerts are to be presented for celebration.

Suncheon Mayor Cho Choong-hoon is to receive an official appointment letter for the National Garden designation from the head of the Korean Forest Service at Suncheon Bay Garden on September 5.

Admission price to Suncheon National Garden will be discounted by 50 percent from September 6 through September 11. Revision of the Creation and Furtherance of Arboretums Act provides legal basis for Suncheon Bay Garden to be designated as the National Garden.

Suncheon Bay Garden’s designation as the National Garden means that the scope of natural assets managed by the state, such as national parks and national arboretums, has been expanded to include gardens. Half of the annual operation expenses of the garden, which is around 6.6 billion won (approx. USD 5.58 million), will be provided from the state coffers. “Designation of Suncheon Bay Garden as the first National Garden in Korea will serve as an opportunity for the city to establish its brand and to grow competitiveness by developing garden-related industries in such areas as flowering plants, gardening and human resource training,” the city’s Suncheon Bay Management Center Director Jo Byeong-cheol said.