“Flyway: connecting people and migratory waterbirds” story series #13 – Ms. Miyoung Choi

 “I think the best conservation action is not to destruct anything in the first place.” -- Ms. Miyoung Choi.

Photo of Ms. Miyoung Choi © Miyoung Choi


Ms. Miyoung Choi, a former Finance Officer of EAAFP Secretariat, and a person who loves birds. Serving public services at Environment category of Incheon Metropolitan City, she is eager to enhance the habitats of migratory waterbirds and raise awareness among citizens about their protection.

 # Journey of Ms. Miyoung Choi

EAAFP : Nice to meet you, Ms. Miyoung Choi. Could you please introduce yourself?

I am now a government officer at Incheon Metropolitan City working on waste management.

EAAFP : You worked as a Finance Officer at EAAFP Secretariat for about 3 years, and you are now a donor to EAAFP Foundation. We truly appreciate your support. What does the EAAFP mean to you?

I worked in the EAAFP Secretariat as a finance officer from November 2013 to June 2017 under the staff secondment agreement with the Incheon City (Host City of EAAFP Secretariat). City-based work as a public officer and partnership-based work within the Flyway Partnership were very different. I had to work in a different perspective, which led me to understand the hard-working of lots of people across the world. I also realized that conservation has no boundaries, and became humble as getting to understand the mother nature, and foremost it gave me a good chance to watch birds.

Photo of Ms. Miyoung Choi © Miyoung Choi


# Beautiful Memories with Birds

EAAFP : You seem to have a lot of interest in conservation of various kinds of birds. What led you to get interested in birds?

Since working at EAAFP, I realized that a lot of people are working on various things related to birds. I had no involvement in this type of work that directly related to birds, but I soon noticed that there are people who strive to protect birds in Incheon area. EAAFP is an organization which works with them. Since I was able to work in a cooperative relationship, I found what I could help as a public officer and also I had to speak for the them. We were able to complement each other. Through this mechanism, I think I learned a lot about birds and conservation. Our then Chief Executive tried efforts to help me learn, and provided many opportunities to engage in various activities.

EAAFP : What is your favorite birds and why?

I like new birds. Their colors, appearance, size, sound, and habitats are all different and various kinds of birds are living by their own lifestyle. When I look at the new bird, it is enjoyable to see how they live, and interesting to learn about it. Birds that travel far without boundaries might seem too free with great dangers around, but I envy their ability to find their own way without being afraid of adventure. I still do not know much about birds and I am still learning about them.

EAAFP : We heard that since you left EAAFP you have worked in conservation of migratory waterbirds as a public officer at Incheon Metropolitan City. Could you tell us more about your assignment in that regard?

Since I am on public service of Environment category, I worked on development and management of bird habitats utilizing my work experience in EAAFP. Songdo in Incheon City is a reclaimed area of large-scaled tidal flats. A great deal of habitats of migratory birds were damaged due to the loss of the tidal flats. Alternative habitats were built to compensate the loss. I thought hard how to restore the damaged habitat in consultation with experts in conservation, not to make the process a typical justification for the development of Songdo. Through a systematic monitoring and a lot of meetings with local as well as international experts, I got to realize that the initial plan (of alternative habitat) might be inappropriate. Rather than building breeding sites that go through many process which may result in damaging tidal flats, we decided to compensate the loss of resting areas through the formation of wetland in part of the reclaimed land. But I think the best conservation action is not to destruct anything in the first place.

Photo of Ms. Miyoung Choi © Miyoung Choi


# Message Toward the World

EAAFP : What would be the biggest barrier to conserving migratory waterbirds?

Since the habitat of migratory waterbirds are not valuated as a natural state such as tidal flats or other wetlands, they are vulnerable to development action at low cost. Raising awareness among local community and government to protect their habitats is important, and the Flyway and key sites of migratory waterbirds have to be monitored and further designated as a protected area in order to protect them from indiscriminate development.

EAAFP : What are the things the public can do to protect migratory waterbirds?

If many people are interested in migratory waterbirds and habitat and at least notice the existence of birds in their neighborhood, the government's policy will change a lot. In addition, individual behavior has to be changed to protect them. I have seen some people’s irresponsible actions during their leisure activities. You can participate in conservation activities prepared for the public and show it to the government. A few years ago, I visited a habitat of Taizang in Taiwan, and I was deeply inspired to see many people with diverse jobs actively participate in monitoring and conservation activities and contribute to make conservation programs and policies together with the government.

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