On 8 May, the EAAFP Foundation participated in the Loach Releasing Event at Maehwamareum Paddy Fields in Ganghwa Island. The event was organized by the National Trust of Korea and Ganghwa Citizen Network which is one of the grantees of the EAAFP Foundation’s 2020 Small Grant Fund Programme, sponsored by Yeongheung Power Division of Korea South-East Power Co., Ltd. About 50 people participated in the event including students and staff of related organizations.
The objective of this event was to promote the ecological value of eco-friendly paddy fields which Maehwamareum (Ranunculus kazusensis Makino) – IUCN Red List (VU) – has been grown. It also aimed to conserve summer migratory birds including Black-faced Spoonbills which feed in the paddy fields. Students and citizens were encouraged to participate in the conservation activities by releasing loaches directly into the field.
Prior to the loach releasing event, Mr. Min-jong Jeon, Deputy Chief Executive of the EAAFP Secretariat, welcomed the event and briefly introduced the East Asian-Australasian Flyway and the EAAFP’s work for the conservation of migratory waterbirds and their habitats.
Then a representative from Ganghwa Citizen Network, Mr. Gyochang Oh expressed pleasure to organize the event to conserve Black-faced Spoonbills and to protect endangered species.
On behalf of the National Trust of Korea, Mr. Soon Rae Kim delivered an appreciation plaque to Mr. Soo-geun Lee, manager of the Ganghwa-Ongjin branch of Korea Rural Community Corporation to appreciate the contribution to nature conservation.
After the opening ceremony, Mr. Soon Rae Kim shared loaches to each participant following the COVID-19 prevention guidelines from the Government of the Republic of Korea. The participants then moved on to the Maehwamareum Paddy Fields and released the loaches. The main purpose of releasing loaches is to maintain the main food supplies of Black-faced Spoonbills living nearby.
According to the organizer, the loaches were from Korea domestically and are not considered as invasive fish species. They serve as food for waterbirds while contributing to enhancing biodiversity in the rice paddy fields by removing harmful insects.
Mr. Do Hun Park, the team leader of Korea National Trust, explained the history of Maehwamareum Paddy Fields in Ganghwa Island and the reason why it is important to Black-faced Spoonbills. He mentioned that Maehwamareum was at risk of extinction, but found it in Paddy Fields of Ganghwa Island in 1998. Through the efforts of citizens, the Paddy Fields could be designated as a Ramsar site in 2008. After Korea Rural Community Corporation constructed a reservoir nearby, enough water can be provided to conserve the fields sustainably.
In Maehwamareum Paddy Fields, flowers of Maehwamareum started blooming. The field will be filled with white flowers in June, but the temperature of the water should not exceed over 20 degrees Celsius.
At the end of the activity, all the participants gathered at Hwamunseok Activity Center and created Hwamunseok, traditional sedge mats, following an instructional video.
- This event was proceeded under the observation of the COVID-19 prevention guideline from the Government of the Republic of Korea.