Seocheon County in South Korea and the National Parks Board of Singapore signed a Memorandum of Understanding between Yubu Island Tidal Flat and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on 20th September 2012 in Singapore with support from the EAAFP Secretariat. Both are Network sites of EAAFP. The authorities agree to collaborate in joint research on migratory shorebirds and sharing knowledge and expertise on the wetland habitat conservation and management. This will promote better understanding of habitat management for the shared species as sister sites under the East Asian – Australasian Flyway.
Both sister sites support a good number of shorebirds and are internationally important spots for shorebirds as stopover sites. The agreement aims to promote conservation and wise use of wetlands for the shared shorebirds and exchange techniques and knowledge of wetland conservation for site managers. In addition, the Seocheon County and Singapore National Parks Board will collaborate for developing environmental sustainable tourism and international events based on the agreement.
The Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is one of leading wetlands in the flyway. It has currently over 130,000 visitors and the number of visitor has been increasing every year as the site becomes better known and its reputation for conservation and awareness-raising is increasingly appreciated. The center has secured 200 volunteers and local sponsors for running conservation and educational programs, and is being constructed to be expanded to accommodate more visitors and participants for the programs.
On the other hand, the Yubu Island Tidal Flat has been well preserved without any development, but there is no guarantee that the habitat will permanently be conserved in the future. It is very important to raise awareness of the site as international important habitat in the flyway and to draw people’s attention to environment and diversity for sustainable development. The Yubu Island Tidal Flat is a significant location for endangered species like Spoon-billed Sandpiper and other shorebirds as a stopover site in the flyway. In line with appropriate conservation and management, the site should be wisely used for both wild birds and people. It should be also a place for environmental education to minimize people’s disturbance to wildlife and wetlands.
On 15 November 2012, the Seocheon international symposium on habitat conservation and management with environmental sustainable tourism will be held to seek best practices and comments on the master plan of the Yubu Island Tidal Flat. If managed sustainably, tourism can bring many benefits, environmental, social and economic, along with maintaining the good health of the wetland.