Print logo

Baengnyeongdo Island
Potential for Inner-Korean Engagement

Baengnyeongdo Island, outpost of South Korea in the Yellow Sea (West Sea), is an important stopover for migratory birds on the Asia-Pacific flyway. This habitat is threatened by various influences, but there is potential for sustainable development.

The survey team working - Dr. Choi, Mr. Ha, Dr. Moores (from left).

A Divided County

Baengnyeongdo (Island) is the Westernmost island of South Korea in the Northern Yellow Sea, very close to North Korea’s South Hwanghae province mainland. It is together with its neighboring islands part of Ongjin county, which is divided into East and West. Because of its position as an outpost of South Korea close to the North, it is heavily militarized with numerous bases. At the same time, tourism to Baegnyongdo developed over time.

Far Eastern Oystercatchers and a Black-tailed gull.

Important Stopover for Migratory Birds

This poses challenges for sustainable development and the preservation of valuable habitats. In particular, Baengnyeongdo – with its exposed position between the Korean mainland and China – is a very important stopover for many migratory birds on the Asia-Pacific flyway. The existence of mixed habitats on a small space makes Baegnyongdo so valuable. But the development of roads, military facilities, the reclamation of almost all tidal flats and the filling of ditches with concrete frames or pipes is a great challenge for preserving bird habitats on the island.

Yellow-throated bunting - one of the many passerines on Baengnyeongdo.

“Green Détente”

At the same time, being so close to North Korea, the island and its counterpart Ongjin county in the North would be an ideal starting point for “green détente”, engagement in the field of environment. Together with its partner Birds Korea, Hanns Seidel Foundation Korea works to establish a dialogue with relevant stakeholders in the area to preserve the unique nature of the island, while opening up new development chances, for examples through new chances for high value-added forms of soft tourism.

You can find a video of our most recent field survey in Baengnyeongdo on our Facebook-Page at this link.