Ecosystem Restoration: A Lesson from the Shiwha Lake

Restoration of the ecosystem means returning to the state in which a creature or creature lived before it was damaged. In other words, the restoration of the ecosystem is aimed at restoring the space where various animals and plants living in the area can live in harmony with each other. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the ecosystem provides us with nearly $700 trillion in ecological services per year. According to the performance analysis of thousands of ecosystem restoration projects worldwide, ecosystems generate several times more revenue than development projects that destroy ecosystems. In other words, restoration of ecosystems is not only an act of maintaining our lives but also reviving ecological services by restoring ecosystems.

For this reason, ideas for better ecological restoration are emerging. In particular, ideas and actions to restore and preserve the ecosystem are emerging in the construction, housing and road sectors, which used to destroy existing ecosystems.

In Korea, restoration of Sihwa Lake is considered an example of ecosystem restoration. In 1987, the government formed a west coast industrial belt linking Incheon, Ansan and Asan to serve as an industrial base for international trade promotion and economic development in the 2000s. In order to prepare for the demand for new industrial land, Sihwa Lake was created to develop a wide range of interstellar sites ranging from Siheung City, Ansan City, and Hwaseong County in Gyeonggi Province.

Sihwa Lake, an artificial lake composed of fresh water flowing from a small stream after building 12.7km of seawall and draining seawater, seemed to be reborn as a symbol of a new leap forward. However, within a year of its creation, wastewater flowing from Sihwa and Banwol industrial complex was flooded into Sihwa Lake, causing rapid deterioration in water quality, and fish were killed en masse, making Sihwa Lake a byword for environmental pollution.

In response, the South Korean government began a project to restore the polluted Sihwa Lake around 1997. First, it began to draw seawater through the drain gate. When seawater began to flow in, Sihwa Lake finally began to breathe. Along with natural purification, the government has restored the water quality of Sihwa Lake by making various efforts to improve water quality, including promoting eco-friendly development.

As the water quality recovered, the ecosystem began to recover. Fish species began to become abundant, and a variety of birds, including spoonbirds, yellow-beaked egrets, and black-headed gulls and rare birds, began to return along with the abundant prey.

Siho Lake, which began to revive again, drew more attention from the world. With continued interest and efforts, Sihwa Lake was eventually recognized as a natural ecological space from a symbol of pollution, and the central and local governments have developed the restored Sihwa Lake as an ecological education and ecotourism attraction and used it as a new cultural space.

Ecological restoration takes a lot of time, and there is a limit to complete restoration to the existing natural state. So the most important thing is conservation, not restoration. Before considering restoration, the ecosystem should no longer be destroyed by human greed or misjudgment.


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