"War would have devastating consequences," George Archibald, ornithologist and co-founder of the International Crane Foundation, told Discovery News, "Peace would also be challenging for the wildlife of the region."
As strange as it sounds, neither war nor peace, but continued tensions between the North and South Korea may well be best for the birds and other wildlife of the DMZ, Archibald said.
The lowlands of the DMZ, particularly the wetlands, are worth their weight in gold, said Archibald. If the Korean Peninsula were to re-unify, the wetlands would be prime real estate for factories making use of the cheap labor from the north and technological advances of the south.
These DMZ wetlands are also valuable for wildlife. Archibald pointed out two birds, the red-crowned crane and black-faced spoonbill, as species that are particularly dependent the DMZ's wetlands.
The wetlands of the DMZ are the winter home of one-third of the world's population of red-crowned cranes.
"If hostilities break out between November and March, it would be devastating to the cranes," said Archibald. "They would try to find other winter habitat, but other wetlands in Korea are patchy and isolated."