The EAAFP Secretariat participated in the first Korean Bird Fair (KBF) on 2-3 November 2019 in Namhae County, Republic of Korea. Besides having bird Fair, there were also a bird race as well as an international symposium entitled “Promoting Birdwatching Tourism in Namhae”.
The 1st Korean Bird Fair aims to promote domestic birdwatching tourism and the conservation of migratory waterbirds habitats. With the theme “Save Bird from Plastic Pollution”, the event consisted of various activity booths, Bird Races, and the International Symposium on Promoting Birdwatching Tourism in Namhae.
“I was surprised that about 230 different bird species are visiting Namhae. I look forward to the further development of the Korean Bird Fair which can spread the beauty of this treasure island.”
Mr. Chung-Nam Jang, the mayor of Namhae County delivered a congratulatory remark at the opening ceremony on Saturday, 2ndNovember.
Mr. Victor Yu from the Asian Bird Fair stated “Bird fair is not just about birds, but for people and for conservation of the environment.”Randy Durband, Chief Executive Officer of GSTC also made a congratulatory remark, “I look forward to seeing a holistic approach for making a sustainable tourism in Namhae.”
On the same day, a Bird Race took place along the GangJin Bay in Namhae County. Participants could find a flock of Eurasian Oystercatcher that is categorized “Near Threatened” species by the IUCN Red List. Other species also welcomed the birdwatchers of which Great cormorant, Gadwall, Northern shoveler, Dunlin, Vega Gull, Black-headed gull, Mallard, Common snipe, Vinous-throated parrotbill, Eurasian teal, and Northern lapwing. One of the Namhae participants met during the race told us that “In winter season, lots of Tundra swan, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Chinese egret and Common pochard are found in the area”. Greater Scaup, Long-billed Plover, Far Eastern Curlew, Saunders’s Gull and other migratory waterbirds are also recorded. With this ecological importance, the GangJin Bay is considered as a potential EAAFP Flyway Network Site.
On 3rdNovember,, an international symposium was organized with a topic of “Promoting Birdwatching Tourism in Namhae” in the Auditorium of Namhae Exile Literature Museum. The symposium was hosted and supervised by the Gyeongnam Ramsar Environmental Foundation, Korean Bird Fair Executive Committee, and Asian Bird Fair Executive Committee.
During the opening ceremony, Dr. Lee Geun-sun, the C.E.O of GREF made an opening remark. Mr. Randy Durband, the C.E.O of GSTC delivered the keynote speech: Sustainable Tourism, Protector of Wildlife. He emphasized the importance of stakeholder engagement across sectors for collaborative governance focused on long-term sustainability to promote sustainable birdwatching tourism in Namhae.
Following presentation session was about cases of birdwatching tourism in Taiwan, the Philippines, Cambodia, and the Republic of Korea. Mr. Victor Yu, the President of Ecotourism Taiwan and a member of Executive Committee of the Asian Bird Fair introduced the history and present of birdwatching tourism in Taiwan. He emphasized that the conservation of sites and species has to go first for ecotourism. Mr. Michael Lu from the Philippines kicked off his presentation by sharing beautiful photos of endemic species in the Philippines, the Biodiversity hotspot. He also concerned about the problem of inconsistent environmental governance. Orn Sambovannakrom the Cambodia Bird Guide Association introduced Cambodia’s community engagement practices in ecotourism and highlighted that sustainable ecotourism supports both the conservation and the community. Dr. Kisup Lee from the Waterbird Network Korea presented current status and challenges facing the birdwatching tourism in Korea. Every year, the demand for ecotourism is increasing in RO Korea and he sees that birdwatching is the most approachable wildlife ecotourism. Dr. Lee emphasized that a key to successful ecotourism is building healthy relationship with the local community.
This Korean Bird Fair was organized by the Korean Bird Fair Committee and Namhae Environmental Center. The Namhae County hosted the event, and the Ministry of Environment, Gyeongnam Ramsar Environmental Foundation (GREF), Korea Ecotourism Network, Korea Ecotourism Society, Asian Bird Fair, EAAFP, and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) joined as supporting organizations.