Threats to the island biodiversity by military base constructions in Okinawa, Japan and Jeju, Korea
Ramsar Network Japan
Date and Time
9 October 2014 18:15 - 19:45
The theme of the International Day for Biological Diversity 2014 was "Island Biodiversity". Islands and their surrounding sea has often unique ecosystem connected to rivers and forests. They are rich in biodiversity, endemic and endangered species/subspecies. However, in islands and their coastal area, many kinds of development projects such as ports, sea dikes, and others are carried out and natural environments are largely changed and biodiversity also reduced. In Okinawa Island of Japan, the Japanese government promotes a plan to landfill the shallow water of coral reefs and sea-grass beds in Henoko and Oura Bay, to build a new military airbase for the United States Marine Corps. This area is rich in biodiversity and an important feeding habitat of dugong, which is one of the most endangered mammals in Japan. In Takae of Higashi Village not far from Henoko, trees in a subtropical evergreen broad-leaved forest is partially cut down for the construction of six military helipads and connecting roads for the USMC. The forest called Yambaru is a very important habitat for many endemic species such as Okinawa Woodpecker and Okinawa Rail that survive only in Yambaru on earth. Helipad construction and military training by vertical takeoff and landing aircrafts called Osprey make serious negative influence to the biodiversity including endemic and endangered species in Yambaru Forest. In Jeju Island of Korea, Korean government is promoting the construction of the large naval base on the coast of Gangjeong Village. A famous huge monolith called Grombi-rock has already been destroyed, which was unique lava terrain and is geologically valuable. The sea of Gangjeong supports many kinds of soft corals, marine wildlife including an endangered crab, and is very rich in biodiversity. This area is an important fishery ground for seafood. In both country, local people, nature conservation groups, and some scientists are expressing their strong opposition to the military base construction for the protection of nature, biodiversity, and life of local people. The local people are continuing sit-in protest for a long time at the each construction sites. However, both governments of Japan and Korea disregard and exclude the opposite opinions and protest activities of residents and nature conservation groups. In this side-event, we have aimed to discuss impacts to the environment and biodiversity of islands, coasts, surrounding sea, and the life of local people by the military base constructions and training. The presentations include points of view of conservation biology, environmental movements, and life of local people.