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Resolving conflicting ecological and economic interests in the Korean DMZ: a valuation based approach

Ecological Economics
Publication Date
  • Korean Dmz
  • War Monument
  • Bio-Resources
  • Value
  • Biology
  • Ecology
  • Economics
  • Law


The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between South and North Korea has served as a sanctuary to diverse biological resources since the Korean War ceased in 1953. During winter season, flocks of cranes (Grus spp.) converge in the rice field along the DMZ. All other refuges for cranes that winter in South Korea were destroyed, due mainly to wilful industrial expansion in the past few decades. The presence of cranes in this region is attributed to the residual rice grains left behind by harvesters. This winter habitat is, however, very fragile, for a number of reasons. First, the local formers regard the cranes as a potential threat in their livelihood rather than as an ecological member sharing the same ecosystem resources. Second, exercising property rights, the landholders have actively advocated an industrial development program. Third, it is difficult to legally impose the notion of wildlife preservation even if there is a perception among the general public that the crane is worth preserving. This study sought to formulate a policy measure to guide the local egalitarian farm economy to ecological economy in which farmers and cranes are the harmonized co-users of the ecosystem resources. Valuation based approach is employed in our study to show that bio-diversity is not in conflict with local economic well-being but, in fact, essential to it.

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