2021 Suncheon Bay Hooded Cranes International Symposium

Every year, Suncheon City holds the festival of the Hooded Cranes in Suncheon Bay in Ro Korea (Flyway Network Site EAAF 079), as they designated 28th February as Suncheon Hooded Cranes Day. This year the celebration was held from 26 February to 1 March, with the theme, “The future of Northeast Asia Cranes and Children.” The 4-days started with the Suncheon Bay Hooded Crane International Symposium on the first day, followed by a live music concert about ecology and peace, and finished off with a birdwatching relay in Suncheon Bay.

The first event, Suncheon Bay Hooded Cranes International Symposium was arranged by a diversity of stakeholders, initiating stronger cooperation for information sharing on domestic and foreign Crane habitats, while seeking ecological education plans for children.

Mr. Huh Yoo-In (chairman of Suncheon City Council) and Mr. Doug Watkins (chief executive of EAAFP) exchange greetings © Yoojung Kwon/EAAFP

Mr. Heo Seok, the Suncheon City mayor, and Mr. Huh Yoo-In, the chairman of Suncheon City council, welcomed all participants who joined on-site or virtually to embrace the articulated values shared in Suncheon, home to over 40% of the global population of Hooded Cranes in winter. Followed by Mr. Huh Sung-Sil, the Director of Suncheon Bay Conservation, shared the key efforts to achieve the status as a reputable wetland Ramsar Site. Suncheon’s integrated management system among local residents, the city government and experts attained many significant achievements for Hooded Cranes conservation. Moreover, he further highlighted the “2021- the crane’s sky highway connection (Rumi) project” which aim to strengthen the solidarity internationally for the Hooded Crane’s flyway. Mr. Spike Millington, the Vice President of the International Crane Foundation (EAAFP Partner), also drew attention in his congratulatory speech to encourage preserving the future of Hooded Cranes by connecting and consolidating shared understanding among people, especially children.

Mr. Doug Watkins, the Chief Executive of EAAFP Secretariat, moderated session 1, ‘Northeast Asia Hooded Cranes habitat status.’ Speaker Dr. Lee Kisup from Korea Crane Network shared the population trend and relevant concerns on Hooded Cranes in its breeding, stopover and wintering sites. He stressed on the importance of international connection across important areas along the Flyway for Hooded Cranes.

Mr. Doug Watkins from EAAFP as Moderator of session 1 © Yoojung Kwon/EAAFP

Speaker Dr. Lee Kisup for session 1 © Yoojung Kwon/EAAFP

In Session 2, ‘Korea’s Wetland Environment Education’ shared the challenges, achievements, and potential outlook on the future education curriculum for linking children and the Hooded Cranes. The representative of WLI-Asia Wetland Centre expressed a strong need to produce common materials and programs, educating all countries in the region. Furthermore, the launching of local community education programs was shared, such as the 2020 Dongcheon Village Education Curriculum, 2016 Black-faced Spoonbill Nature School sponsored by the Ministry of Environment Ro Korea, and the establishment of the monitoring school for Hooded Cranes in 2013. A presentation on “Education for Children” focused on on-site work such as site monitoring and population counting. To strengthen the education platform on Hooded Cranes conservation for children, the session further highlighted the importance of students to understand biodiversity across other sites beyond national borders.

The final session further discussed the new paradigm for environmental education. The discussion focused on the current limitations and different approaches challenging the barriers of environmental education in Ro Korea. As well as the necessity to diversify the resources for different target groups, mainstream the issue of wetland and migratory waterbird conservation through a climate crisis perspective and make a nationwide mechanism, was discussed.

On the second and third day of the festival, a live concert and birdwatching relay tour were held. Suncheon Bay held a Life-Peace Music Festival. The main singer, Professor Park Seong-Hoon and other guests sang and celebrated the values of Ro Korea’s ecology in Suncheon Bay, and communicated hope to overcome the hardships from the global pandemic and climate crisis. The last day of the festival ended with a two-day Hooded Crane birdwatching relay tour in Suncheon Bay wetland. Enjoy the Music Festival as below:

Prior to the Crane Festival, EAAFP Secretariat and RRC-EA (Ramsar Regional Initiative), Hanns Seidel Foundation (EAAFP Partner) held a meeting to identify some common issues to work together and to identify relevant CEPA (Communication, Education, Participation and Awareness) activities that would build stronger capacity building, and mutually support each 2021 initiatives in the region, in particular, in the Yellow Sea. Furthermore, the meeting captured the limitations to initiate more effective and efficient Ramsar and Flyway Network Sites management plans.

EAAFP Secretariat, RRC-EA, and HSF prior meeting © Yoojung Kwon/EAAFP

Local media report on the even (Korean): http://www.nbnnews.co.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=472024

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