To ensure a stable water supply, especially during spring droughts, Koreans have developed agricultural ponds called dumbeongs. Dumbeong systems are farmer-engineered and managed ponds used to optimize groundwater and rainwater capture and storage.
Koreans have depended on dumbeongs for over a thousand years due to their ecological, climatic, and cultural experience. Dumbeongs have become ubiquitous in South Korea and has become part of their landscape and culture. In 2019, the country designated it as their National Agricultural Heritage.
Two-thirds of the county’s terrain is mountainous. They usually grow their rice crops in slightly sloped areas around the coasts.
Goseong county is the site selected for the study, which experiences drought regularly. Two hundred dumbeongs functions as their secondary water source.
Researchers learned that dumbeongs offers many advantages. It is an effective climate adaptation solution to droughts and low precipitation, hence considered a climate-resilient infrastructure. It supports healthy coastal and land ecosystems and the hydrological processes of the area utilizing it.
Researchers have observed that dumbeongs are plentiful near forested areas and coastal areas. They wanted to examine the relationship between the abundance of dumbeongs to land cover patterns (forests) and drought events, its relevance to future climate projections, and conservation challenges.
Farmers have relied on dumbeongs as an adaptive response to local changes in precipitation – especially during drought and hydrological process.
The study demonstrates that ancient traditional knowledge and practices are as useful today as they were in the last millennium. Dumbeongs can be a valuable model for water harvesting system and supplemental irrigation, as well as a climate-adaptive infrastructure that supports local social-ecological resilience.
Researchers predict that Goseong county will experience higher drought events due to climate change and recommends the preservation and expansion of these agricultural ponds.
To read the entire study, click the link below:
GoWoon Kim, Wanmo Kang, Dowon Lee, Rahul Teku Vaswani, & Jinhyung Chon. (2019, May 3). A spatial approach to climate-resilient infrastructure in coastal social-ecological systems: The case of dumbeong in Goseong County, South Korea. Environment International, Volume 131, 105032, ISSN 0160-4120. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2019.105032