An International Symposium on the Conservation and Management of the Intertidal Wetlands of the Yellow and Bohai Seas was held in the city of Yancheng, Jiangsu Province, China, from 13 to 14 December 2017, organized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Eco-Forum Global (EFG), with support from EAAFP. The southern Jiangsu coast has one of the largest intertidal wetlands on the East China coast and supports globally important concentrations of migratory waterbirds in the East Asian – Australasian Flyway, including the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper.
This important international symposium aimed to raise awareness of the important role that intertidal wetlands, including Yancheng wetlands, play at the local, regional and global levels, and to support the implementation of a conservation strategy for the Yellow Sea region. This follows the IUCN World Conservation Congress Resolution 26, which focused on the critical importance of conserving intertidal wetlands for migratory water-birds and for the ecosystem services they provide. A specific objective of the workshop was to report back on national progress in implementing IUCN WCC Resolution 26, with an emphasis on the designation and/or management of natural World Heritage for Yellow Sea intertidal areas.
The first day focused on the Yellow Sea, the World Heritage nomination and threats and opportunities related to conservation of Yellow Sea intertidal ecosystems. This included presentations and discussion from China, Republic of Korea and DPRK government delegations on conservation of West/Yellow Sea tidal flats. Spike Millington talked about EAAFP and the international perspective of Flyway conservation and Professor Lei Guangchun, the EAAFP Technical Focal point for China, focused on the critical importance of the southern Jiangsu mudflats, including Yancheng, Tiaozini and the Dongsha radial flats, a very dynamic ecosystem. Martha Rojas, Secretary General of Ramsar, gave a presentation on wetlands of international importance, emphasizing the values and services of coastal wetlands.
Four breakout groups (RoK, DPRK, China, International) discussed World Heritage nomination and its governance, and how to manage threats and identify opportunities to maintain the ecological and environmental assets of the proposed WH area.
On 14th December, the Mayor of Yancheng and the President of EFG (and IUCN) emphasized their strong support for World Heritage nomination for Yancheng and the Mayor announced the creation of the Yancheng Coastal Wetland Research Institute, strengthening commitment to coastal wetland research in the area.
An afternoon panel discussion on wetland protection and management included Spike Millington, Doug Watkins, Taej Mundkur and Seung Oh Suh representing EAAFP and its Partners. Spike read out a declaration of support from EAAFP Partners through its Chair expressing support for the Yancheng initiative. Raphael Glemet, IUCN hosted the final session, including the draft Yancheng Resolution.
On the 15th, the three Yellow/West Sea countries held a half-day meeting to discuss future cooperation for conservation of coastal wetlands, including World Heritage nomination.