Welcoming Gochang Getbol from the Republic of Korea as Flyway Network Site, EAAF 153

Gochang Getbol FNS © Gochang City

On 28th August 2022, the East Asian-Australasian Partnership welcomed a new addition to the Flyway Site Network – Gochang Getbol in Ro Korea — as Flyway Network Site (FNS) EAAF153, marking the 19th FNS in the country. It is now adding one more brand to its list of names: Gochang Tidal flat Wetland Protected Area (2008), Gochang and Buan Tidal Flats Ramsar Site (2010); Gochang UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve (2013) and Gochang Tidal Flat Wetland Protected Area (2018);  and recently UNESCO World Heritage Site – inscribed in 2021 with three other tidal flats in Ro Korea in recognition of their high ecological value (link).

Gochang Getbol is located on the Southwestern coast of Ro Korea. The area which looks like a large-headed dinosaur lying on its side is a unique ecosystem composed of salt marshes, mudflats, mixed flats, sand flats and rocky substrates. The site regularly supports an average of over 26, 000 migratory waterbirds annually, and it is home to 101 species of migratory waterbirds, in which 10 species are globally threatened. The site supports significant migratory populations of Far Eastern Curlew (EN), Great Knot (EN), Common Pochard (VU), and an increasing number of  Black-faced Spoonbill (EN); as well as Oriental Stork (EN), Horned Grebe (VU), Chinese Egret (VU), White-naped Crane (VU), Hooded Crane (VU) and Saunders’s Gull (VU) have also been recorded.

The dominant species at Gochang Getbol are Kentish Plover, Terek Sandpiper, Dunlin, Great Knot, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Mallard, Black-tailed Gull and so on. Apart from migratory waterbirds, the site is rich and productive for the benthic community, with a total of 255 species of macrobenthos found on the site.

Eurasian Oystercatcher © Gochang City

Black Stork © Gochang City

Gochang Getbol has strong CEPA programmes and facilities — The Ramsar Gochang Getbol Visitor Center, which showcases excellent educational programmes and materials, exhibition contents, facilities specialized for school visits and customized ecotourism experiences for visitors.

To celebrate the designation of Gochang Getbol to the EAAFP Flyway Site Network, Gochang County organized an official ceremony on 28th August, opening the event to key stakeholders, avid birdwatchers, and Gochang citizens. Mr. Deok-Seob Shim, the Mayor of Gochang City, received the FNS certificate from Mr. Doug Watkins, Chief Executive of EAAFP.

© EAAFP Secretariat

In his speech, Mayor Deok-Seob Shim highlighted, “Tidal flats are a treasure trove of biodiversity. They connect people and nature, and are invaluable schools from which we can learn how to live in harmony with our planet. The fishermen of Gochang County have protected migratory birds regardless of the losses they may have in their clam farms. It is thanks to their efforts that, in July last year, Gochang Getbol was recognized as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site for its excellent ecological value and importance as a habitat that supports more than 20,000 migratory waterbirds each year, thus leading the site in becoming a part the EAAFP Flyway Site Network today. As such, Gochang county will continue to actively support the international community’s efforts to conserve the environment and protect migratory birds.”

Mr. Doug Watkins, congratulated Gochang County for its many accomplishments for wetlands, stating, “I would like to congratulate the designation of Gochang Getbol as our 153rd East Asian-Australasian Flyway Network Site. As a World Heritage Site and Flyway Network Site, Gochang Getbol is now recognized as a key stopover habitat providing feeding and roosting for numerous migratory waterbirds as they migrate across the EAA Flyway. The EAAFP Secretariat will continue to strive to promote effective cooperation mechanisms which link with the public and private sectors. We believe that this collaboration with Gochang County and all relevant stakeholders is an important mechanism that will deliver new opportunities for environmental conservation and sustainable development of the community.”

© EAAFP Secretariat

© EAAFP Secretariat

The designation of Gochang Getbol to the Flyway Site Network brings the EAAF Partnership one step closer to its goals of creating a safety net for migratory waterbirds. The “jewels” of the partnership, the sites in the Flyway Site Network, not only act as safe havens for migratory birds, but also as bridges between countries, linking them through borderless migratory birds. As the Flyway Site Network expands, EAAFP looks forward to working with all its partners for the conservation of migratory birds.

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