[Press release on EAAFP Side Event at CBD COP 12 in Pyeongchang]
The East Asian – Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) held a side-event at the Twelfth Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity at Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea on 8th October to draw attention to the ongoing ecological crisis threatening the migration of 50 million migratory waterbirds that use the Flyway every year.
Migratory waterbirds – shorebirds, ducks, swans, egrets, geese and cranes – share this Flyway with 45 percent of the world’s human population. Unbridled recent exploitation of coastal and wetland areas in the Flyway for infrastructure and other development has resulted in a loss of habitat for migrating waterbirds, precipitating rapid and accelerating declines in many species. The Yellow Sea region of China and Korea is a critical bottleneck for many species and rapid loss of intertidal wetlands here threatens many species, particularly shorebirds. The remaining populations of some of the most-at-risk bird species live in this Flyway, including for example the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, a ‘Critically Endangered’ shorebird facing imminent extinction. This bird breeds in Chukotka, Russia and passes through coastal wetlands in China and Korea while migrating to wintering grounds in South-east Asia. The tidal flats of the Geum Estuary, particularly Yubu-do is the most critical site in Korea, with at least ten birds being seen there in recent weeks. According to the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment, the number of Spoon-billed Sandpipers has decreased dramatically from about 6,000 breeding pairs to just a few hundred pairs over the past 30 years. Presentations by Spike Millington, Chief Executive and Judit Szabo, Science Officer of EAAFP highlighted the crisis and the Partnership’s work to address it. Dr. Nial Moores of Birds Korea reported on bird population trends and conservation status in the Republic of Korea, noting that migratory waterbirds are the highest declining group in the country, mainly as a result of habitat loss and degradation. Declarations from Australia and China from recent meetings in those counties, calling on governments to act on habitat loss, were read out during the side-event.
EAAFP also hosted a Partner Meeting and Dinner on 10th October. Eleven of EAAFP’s 16 country partners attended and Mr Kim Jong Ryool, Director of Biological Diversity Division of the Korean Ministry of Environment presented Korea’s National Biodiversity Strategy 2014-2018, Biodiversity of Korea 2014 and A Guide to Migratory Bird Areas of Korea.
The EAAFP brings together 16 national government agencies, 6 intergovernmental bodies, 10 international NGOs, and 1 International Private Enterprise to protect migratory waterbirds and their habitats throughout the Flyway for the benefit of biodiversity and people. Its Secretariat is based in Incheon and is generously supported by Incheon City Government and the Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Korea.
Spike Millington, Chief Executive, EAAFP
Download full text of press release: here