Ansan Wetlands Park and Sihwa Lake

in wetlands •  last month 

I visited a coastal wetlands park in Ansan. The Korean name of the place is 안산갈대습지공원 which translates to the Ansan Reed Wetland Park. It is on the inland edge of Lake Sihwa which is a coastal sea-water lake.

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The Importance of Wetlands

Wetlands are very important for water management and wildlife. Some wetlands are only temporary during the rainy season, others are salty and tidal, and others are year-round. They can be very wet and have a lot of ponds or they can be covered in grasses and almost dry enough to walk on.

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Wetlands are also home to a lot of plants, especially those that love water. Reeds, grasses and lilies are very common.

Birds, amphibians and fish really like wetlands. They also attract small mammals and reptiles.

Asides from being home to planWetlands do a really important job to clean water, absorb CO2 and remove toxins from the soil. Some of the wetland plants are so useful at removing pollutants from the soil, they are intentionally grown near the outlets of sewage treatment plants, irrigation canals and rivers.

Wetlands are Shrinking

Humans need more and more space. Wetlands have nutrient-rich soil, so draining them for farmland has been popular for hundreds of years. Additionally, they are often filled up near cities to make room for expansion since it is easier than moving large hill and mountains or filling in lakes and oceans.

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All over the world, this is happening. Especially in really crowded countries in Asia. In Korea, it's most prevalent among all shallow coastlines, especially the Yellow Sea. Korea has added several thousand Km2 of land and the Yellow Sea has become Several thousand Km2 smaller.

Wetlands are also drained so the water can be used for human consumption, in particular for agricultural. When too much water is removed, the balance is thrown off. It's not a reservoir.

Also, some wetlands are just used as a dumping ground. If they fill up, they can be built on. It's really awful when
you think about it. They need our protection.

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Protecting Wetlands

The best way to protect wetlands is to leave them alone completely. Don't dump stuff in them, don't take the water, don't add dirty water, don't let development encroach on them. It's pretty damn easy when you think about it. All you have to do is absolutely nothing. They've been managing themselves for hundreds of millions of years just fine.

Educating people about the importance of wetlands is a good way to increase calls for the protection of wetlands. As much as I hate to see boardwalks and trails all over the place, it does allow people to learn about the wetlands and experience the beauty of them. Also, it keeps everyone in one place and stops them from roaming free.

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Fortunately, wetlands all over the place are being protected. The Ansan Reed Wetland Park I visited is a good example of a wetland that is being protected. However, with the large new cities going up all around it, the level of protection it is receiving is questionable.

The more wetlands that are protected the better.

Artificial Wetlands

When people think artificial, they tend to think 100% like an ornamental pond or something. Actually, a lot of wetlands are artificial or have some managed aspect to them. By artificial, I mean a place that wouldn't exist without human intervention.

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Since the balance of water is key, this is usually what we mean when we say a wetland is artificial. The level of water is completely controlled. Usually, there is a dam and dykes to keep the water levels consistent. It doesn't take long for a wetland to be created after the water levels are established.

Fortunately, humans are really good at doing this. damns, canals and dikes have been built by humans for over one thousand years for agricultural use.

Mostly artificial wetlands are powered entirely by gravity. There may be the odd sluice gate to change water levels, or the odd syphon to move water over small barriers, but generally, there is little to no energy required for management.

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This is the start of Sihwa Lake. Below here it is starting to get salty.

The Ansan Reed Wetland Park is artificial in the sense that without the dike and outlet stream, this place would probably be dried up for most of the year, only flooding during the rainy season.

Lake Siwha

At 56.5km2 lake siwha is quite large. It is on the west coast of Korea on the Yellow Sea. In the early 1990s, a 12km causeway was built along the tidal flats connecting the land at both ends and a few islands. The goal was to make a giant freshwater reservoir for agricultural use and recreation.

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Humans being humans, not to mention the reservoir being built next to a megacity of over 25 million people lead to disaster. The lake became so polluted with agricultural, industrial and human waste that nothing could live in it besides toxic bacteria and algae. Clean up was necessary. A lot of the coast of the lake that was farmland was turned into wetlands, this is how the Ansan Reed Wetland Park was made.

Also, it was decided that it would be impossible to create a healthy freshwater lake, so they decided to make it a saltwater lake.

They keep the gates closed when the tide is changing, but open during high tide. At low tide, they dump out the water and use it to generate 254MW of renewable electricity. It's called the Sihwa Lake Tidal Power Station.

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Boardwalks look nice and allow us a unique view, but it also brings tourists and doesn't belong here.

There are also windmills along the dike and some areas are covered in solar panels. It's now a green energy haven. But when you think about it, they did completely mess up a few hundred square kilometres of nature to make this 'green energy' ecosystem.

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Tidal Flats Potential.

All these places are built along what are naturally tidal flats and costal marshlands. There are at least 5 other 50km2+ lakes like Siwha along the west coast of Korea. Asan, Bunam, Saemangeum, Yeongsan, Yeongam and Geumho. Some of them are very large. There are also a few estuaries like the Geum River that are used for this purpose as well. Further, there are several more large rivers and channels that can be damned up and more coastal islands that can easily be connected.

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Most are still saltwater, a lot of them are being filled in and turned into cities, or land, still others are still trying to become freshwater lakes. It's not easy.

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This is where the water leaves the wetlands. Airation happens and algae and bacteria grow om the rocks.

Tidal flats can easily be walled up to make vast reservoirs and provide 'green energy'. Personally, I think just building a few clean coal power stations and leaving the places natural, rather than draining and damning them and covering them with soal panels to generate a few hundred MW would be better for the environment. But hey, misleading green energy propaganda works.

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Saemangeum

At nearly 400km2, saemangeum is the largest coastal project in Korea. Don't worry, larger are planned. I want to bring this up because it is in the news a lot and in my opinion a complete environmental disaster.

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As you can see they are starting to surround the wetlands with nice new apartments. These don't belong here. No one asks nature before sharing with them. The wetlands are better off on their own.

Originally the government wanted to build a freshwater lake, golf courses, industry and houses and cities on top. Now they have turned it into a saltwater lake and are building tidal power generation. They want to build farmland and the largest floating solar farm in the country on top. Wow, 1000MW total on a sunny day at low tide when the station is running. That's like 1 decent sized coal powerplant. I'm not sure if a 400km2 forest could make up for the carbon difference, but I assume when you factor in all the construction required to make a 400km2 green energy project and the giant 'green' scar on the plant, you are probably better off with coal (gas and nuclear would be even better).

My Thoughts on Green Energy

I am starting to get disillusioned with 'eco-parks' and 'green energy', it's easy to support if you just consider the carbon footprint of the actual energy production. Yeah, sure solar energy and reservoirs just magically appear.

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The ducks were in a pen. These look like farm animals.

When you consider all factors at all stages, and not just carbon output while energy is being produced things change quickly. Initial production, maintenance and lifespan of solar panels isn't that good. The amount of land required for a lot of this green energy stuff is crazy too. It's can't just be built in the arctic because there is no sunlight and it can't be built in the middle of the ocean because it would get destroy and is difficult to maintain.

However, we can't keep covering up 'marginal' land either.

A balance needs to happen. People need to conserve energy in general.

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This weird looking chicken was in a pen by the visitors center. I didn't go in the visitors center.

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I prefer the reeds and wetlands. As mentioned if you want to protect the environment, do nothing stay away, it will fix itself. Just stop. Even places that suffered nuclear contamination and toxic waste dumping managed that.

Nature can do its thing and doesn't really need our help. Humanity needs to leave nature alone.

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Natural water systems have been badly damaged around the world through a variety of reasons. To re-establish back is going to take a long time, if ever, to get them to former glory.

Human 'progress' has most definitely never taken nature into consideration, this is why we are in the predicament we currently find ourselves. We may not have caused the whole problem but we have most definitely contributed in a very large way.

I completely agree. Nature changes sometimes for better or worse if left on its own, but humans rarely help improve nature. The best we seem to do is plant trees in areas we destroyed.

A great example to consider is the wildfires in British Columbia and California. Sometimes these are actually natural and caused by lightning. Occasionally they are necessary to maintain healthy forests.

Flooding is another one too. We think we are helping the river when we stop if from flooding, but it happens during the rainy seasons for a reason.

This is such an important subject! Us humans have done so much damage to this beautiful planet! Here in South Africa the rivers and dams are awfully polluted by big industries as well as people living in informal settlements along the waterways. It's going to be a long hard haul to clean up the mess and bring back the fish and other water life.

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I can imagine where you live it is a mixture of colonial exploitation, mining and poverty causing a lot of the destruction. Sadly, without government help, there isn't much that can be done about the informal settlements because they are too poor to make responsible decisions.

You've hit the nail on the head! We are putting a lot of hope in our new president who has a steep hill to climb after stepping into the shoes of his predecessor. Hopefully basic needs like unemployment and housing will be addressed correctly. It's so sad to hear how the RDP housing is being exploited, in many instances going to officials who use family/friends names to get the free housing and then rent it out instead of it going to the poorest of the poor! One can't blame those communities when they protest!

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I wasn't familiar with public housing being exploited. It happens a bit here in Korea. The politicians and other elites are thrown into prison and booted out of office when they get caught. It's not a very good way to get popular. There are some weird ways to qualify for government assistance like if you have an ancestor that was involved in the Independence movement, so sometimes they technically do qualify for assistance, but obviously it's frowned upon if you don't need it. Dodging out of military service or picking up foreign citizenships for your kids to avoid it is another political career killer here.

Hopefully, your country fixes its problems, but there are just so many it's difficult. I'm always stunned with the xenophobic things on the news and the power shortages. You'd think with all the good farmland and minerals, they would be able to sort these things out. It's definitely not a lack of resources, it's gross mismanagement and colonialisation hasn't been an excuse for over 25 years.

Very sad that this is happening in Korea as well, all for greed! The xenophobia really is bad, those refugees often get exploited by being given poorly paid jobs; they often work harder than the locals as they're desperate and afraid so they say nothing when their employers abuse them. The locals in turn get angry as they feel their jobs are being taken away but I would put a lot of blame on the greedy employers! It's a viscious circle! Much of our power and water problems are due to gross mismanagement, lack of maintenance just one of the issues!

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It seems like a nightmarish situation for the migrants. The more I learn the more I realize how fortunate I am to be born where I was. I'm not reallybin favor of the term first world problems, but I feel it explains a lot of my problems well.

People just don't understand the importance of wetlands my friend. I love roaming in them and they are full of life. Fools are also crowding them out here in South Africa.
That is certainly some weird looking chicken!
Blessings!

We need to stop thinking of development in the traditional sense which is the destruction of nature. I am glad people are starting to understand the importance. Humans are already using up enough of the planet, we should protect the areas we haven't already destroyed from further encroachment.
In Korea, it is due to a lack of space and land values being very expensive. Urban areas are already very dense.

So true, I read that they are clearing huge areas of forests to farm in many countries that are cramped for space and man has also ever had his eyes on the Amazon. The mining companies are also encroaching on protected areas here in our country. All for money of course.
Until the last bird sings, then only will man know that he is doomed!
Blessings!

Sadly, you are right. It will not stop until we are long past doomed. According to quite a few people who study the environment, it's already to late to turn things back. I guess they realized that despite 50 years of warning, we've barely applied the brakes on development.

I also read a study on this and it is so scary.
But we are dealing here with hard-hearted people that are driven by profits my friend. Normally the only way that they wake up is when they and everything that they touched are in complete ruins.
It is then they adopt the victim persona.
But the day will come!
Blessings!

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Thanks for the shout out to save the natural wetlands and let nature do it's thing!
I was bought up being concerned about the wetlands as a child for my father worked on water conservation for forty years with Ducks Unlimited. I love to see the nature reserves that he was instrumental in creating - one right beside my niece's property making a lovely wetland area by the city full of waterfowl - truly gorgeous landscape!
Thanks for sharing!

I really like Ducks Unlimited. They are doing a lot of great work to not only restore damaged wetlands, but also to keep development from encroaching on wetlands. I read somewhere windmills near wetlands kill a lot of birds. Also windows and cats kill more than hunters ever could. I was surprised when I learned the majority of Ducks Unlimited supporters are hunters. But I guess that makes sense, they want to keep things completely sustainable so they can hunt with their grandchildren. A well-managed wetland will produce a lot of healthy ducks. Conservation is really important and allows moderate use of land by people as long as it is well managed.

Do they have Ducks Unlimited in Korea? I live in Canada and my Dad worked all across Canada. I didn't know it was overseas.

I don't think it's in Korea. But I lived in Ontario for over 20 years and learned about it while there.


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Nice upvotes hypocrit

I'm not sure why these people upvoted or downvoted me. I can assume because they wanted to simce they didn't mention it.

I don't use bidbots and haven't for months.
You have obvious links in your wallet and lots of outgoing Steem on active posts.

Also the quality of our posts and engagement are miles appart.

Go troll somewhere else. It won't get your flag removed.

Those votes are as organic as it gets. Go ahead check the wallet and look for transfers to such bots. Don’t go around accusing users of using bid bots when you haven’t done your research. It just makes you look foolish. You know it is a blockchain and all that can be seen... don’t you???

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Howdy sir abitcoinskeptic! Well said, nature doesn't need our help to mess it up, we mess up wherever we go. Wonderful photos and information here sir, well done!

Thanks a lot. I'm all for sharing the planet. But I think we have taken up our fair share and should stay further away from the bits we haven't already messed up.

Exactly, especially when they are such an important part of the ecosystem!

@abitcoinskeptic

Oh yes, wetland protection - so essential. We are fortunate to have many estuaries along the South African coast and most are part of coastal reserves. It's the wetlands further inland that get ignored. Especially the ones that, naturally dry up, and are not recognised as wetlands. Let me stop. We're on the same page.

You got me (again) on this:

I am starting to get disillusioned with 'eco-parks' and 'green energy',

Likewise: I often wonder how much energy is used, and environmental damage results, from this crusade. I wonder how much real research has gone into the long term effects. Many will (and do) argue that the long term benefits outweigh the short. I had this thought when we installed our solar water heating system. To save energy, yes. And money. But also the environment. Then I discover the tubes are imported from Ireland. Carbon footprint. HUGE

I gather similar debates are beginning to emerge around the real advantages of a plant-based diet. That's another debate for another time.

Some beautiful places and photos and, as always, thought-provoking.

Fiona

Glad you liked it.

My issue with the eco-parks is they bring people to nature and people keep trying to find more and more pristine nature. But there is a dangerous trend, the more it is advertised, the more facilities, the more people who show up, the more damaged it is. I keep thinking of 'the beach' in Thailand or Boracay in the Philippines. Both had to shut down. Apparently, they were beautiful 30 to 40 years ago. Now they are cesspools.

We have to be really careful with those loaded words like 'eco-friendly', what does it mean? For example, an eco-friendly dryer is called a hanger.

I do want to write about food and farming, but perhaps another time. Efficiency is really difficult to get right. Too many things to consider.

Oh, you are so right. Pristine places destroyed because they become popular for being pristine. Sometimes I loathe the knock-on effects of tourism. So destructive.

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Often when I find the best places, I don't brag. I get really angry when people destroy nature for a photograph. Scuba divers on coral reefs with their pocky sticks and fins are the worst.

Urgh! I agree with you. I hate how many people have found our village....and moved here, and, and...

I think all of the world's problems always comes down to the fact that we continue to allow the greediest of people to take the lead and destroy everything good, bit by bit.

That new apartment complex there in the wetlands - some greedy construction mogul in the business of building for profit sees nothing but dollar signs in the location, and they couldn't care less about any "environmental" damage they will also create by building that complex there.

So we all end up with a new apartment complex we didn't really need, that will destroy wildlife and the environment, (and eventually us), and the only beneficiary is that greedy builder, who now is off finding another area to destroy.

But by all means, let's just carry on as usual.

I think all of the world's problems always comes down to the fact that we continue to allow the greediest of people to take the lead and destroy everything good, bit by bit.

Spot on, we celebrate wealth and power.

The most annoying thing about the apartment complex is they market it based on being environmentally sustainable and eco-friendly. We reclaimed this land in a 'sustainable' way. It was a swamp, not a toxic waste dump. They destroyed a natural environment and are literally bragging they didn't destroy as much as they could.

Cities should build verticle. People already take up enough space. We don't deserve a nice view if we keep encroaching on it.

So true as this is also happening in the Philippines. Wet lands turn into commercial and housing subdivisions. There wetlands near our area that is a location of migratory birds. They covered it up with dirt and now the birds are gone.

Oh, that's really sad about the birds. There are so many migratory birds that depend on wetlands to help them travel their long distances and there are a lot of year-round feathered residents, too.

Looks of important information in the writeup @abitcoinskeptic. So true that we need to leave nature alone and quit our infringing on the wetlands.

It's so tempting to drain them and built on or farm that nice rich soil. I hope people stop.

That is definitely a bizarre looking chicken.

Energy use and consumption absolutely needs to change, but it's difficult when people like their creature comforts and like to pay as little as possible for it. I personally think that solar energy is the future, once we get there; right now solar cells aren't robust enough to do what we need, and the batteries they power aren't as strong or long lasting as we need. It will happen at some point but, yah, right now it sucks.

More solar energy is definitely in our future. I also think recycling and reducing energy consumption and land use will happen, too.

You are right, people won't draatically change and they will keep voting politiciams who share the same visions. We need miracles in technology to help us.

People are stupid, we'd kill our environment for a buck 🌎 @abitcoinskeptic 😠

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Yes. I really like the idea of making more natural parks and conservation. People want to make a buck, but they also don't want fines for damaging protected things.

We so need to take care of Mother Nature before she comes back to haunt us BIG TIME !!

I think we are either already past that point, or it's impossible tonstop is from going past that point. It doesn't mean we should give up. We should keep doing more because it keeps getting worse.

I guess we will be inspired by destruction or cost savings.

Funny this looks like the rural part of Rotterdam where I live, including the 11 ducks we own. Nice to see and isnt nature pretty. This would be great for the contest by adalger you should look it up

Wow you own 11 ducks. Very lucky.

I'll have to check out that contest by adalger. All I do is visit wetlands and natural places.

Here is the latest edition

Very informative post indeed! 😉👍

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Thanks. Very insightful comment indeed! 😉👍

You are so correct @abitcoinskeptic, if each one of us did our part to protect these areas perhaps we could make a small difference. The balance between growth and preservation is so out of balance and our wetlands/wildlife is the first to suffer. Thanks for sharing with us!

Glad youblike it. I figured you would be another person who understands well especially given your nickname. You are right the key is balance.