Is it not ironical that the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ), where two rival armies from North and South Korea snarl at each other, endangered migratory
birds stop in for a peaceful rest? The 242 km long strap of land has become Asia's most hospitable homes for rare plants and animals. The endangered Manchurian crane and nearly 140 other kinds of wildlife are found here.
However, there is a growing concern that if peace comes to this area, one of the most pristine green belts in Asia could be lost. Many environmentalists are concerned that the two Koreas might one day unite and the beautiful nature preserve could
become a crowded suburb overnight.
The occasional firing at the borders have kept developers away from the area. A four storey building being constructed in Panmunjom, the main South Korean military check post along the DMZ, has become a major cause of concern for environmentalists.
Yoon Moo Boo, a South Korean biologist and bird specialist, says as the DMZ has been left to nature for nearly 50 years, it has become an important stop on for migratory birds. He feels that South Korea's ambitious developers and lax environmental protection laws might put to jeopardy the existence of these rare species.
Nevertheless, authorities in South Korea have shown
interest in preserving the area.
The Presidential Commission for Promoting Globalisation recently recommended preserving the 'ecological integrity' of the area. Na Jung Kyun, a South Korean environmental official, says that environmentalists are studying the Commission's report and are in constant touch with the government on formulating an action plan for keeping the DM? safe for wildlife.