On 19th of January 2021, Suncheon City hosted a virtual New Year greeting call. EAAFP Secretariat, Ramsar Regional Centre – East Asia (RRC-EA), Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF) Korea who participated at “the Suncheon Roundtable Meeting on Building Inter-Korea Cooperation” two months ago, as well as International Crane Foundation (ICF) joined to initiate a conservation network for Hooded Crane in the Flyway.
Mr. Heo Seok, the Suncheon City Mayor began with a welcome speech. In his speech, he recalled the symbolic meaning of Hooded Crane for Suncheon City, denoting longevity, fidelity, and peace. As Suncheon City successfully increased the cranes population, providing a sustainable wintering site for 3,100 Hooded Cranes around Suncheon Bay (EAAF 79), he highlighted the significance of the new conservation project. He expected meaningful collaboration through the launch of “2021 – the crane’s sky highway connection (Rumi) project”, which includes Hooded Crane global photo contest, Hooded Crane photobook production and Hooded Crane video production exhibition.
Following was an opening speech from each international organization. Mr. Suh Seung Oh, the Executive Director of RRC-EA, congratulated the launching of the project and reconfirmed the importance of coordination despite the unprecedented challenges from COVID-19. Dr. Bernhard Seliger, the Resident Representative of HSF Korea, associated the necessity of coexistence and cooperation for conservation of migratory birds between the North and South through this type of the partnership. Mr. Doug Watkins, the Chief Executive of the EAAFP Secretariat, acknowledged the invaluable engagement of different stakeholders developed despite COVID-19, strengthening support and resilience within the local community as well. He credited the successful conservation achievements of Suncheon City, endorsed as a leading world class example and a EAAFP Sister Site with Izumi Flyway Network Site (FNS) in Japan. Mr. Spike Millington, the Vice President of the ICF, addressed the commonality of national borders as a FNS for Hooded Cranes despite the different nationality and ideologies upheld. Restoring the responsibility to associate a safe flyway for Hooded Cranes, he highlighted the vital connection of people around flyway sites.
An open discussion session followed by the remarks from HSF Korea, RRC-EA, EAAFP Secretariat, and ICF. Dr. Bernhard Seliger started with strong support in the proposed activities and confirmed its role to assist the liaison between Ro Korea and DPR Korea. Mr. Suh Seung Oh invited fellow partners for extended supports for the progressive IUCN Yellow Sea Working Group with relevant organizations, and their virtual crane workshop assisting Suncheon City along their annual Hooded Crane Festival in late February 2021. Mr. Doug Watkins commented on the achievement made to attract cranes from the concentrated population of Hooded Cranes from Izumi to Suncheon Bay. He welcomed ICF’s involvement, recognized as a leading Partner in worldwide crane conservation, and shared EAAFP’s keenness to initiate extended links across the Flyway. Lastly, Mr. Spike Millington articulated the virtue of retaining strong partnership even after the proposed initiatives are fulfilled. He expressed his appreciation and enthusiasm to Suncheon City and its proposed initiatives, and invited Suncheon City to join the ICF’s newly launched education initiative of crane schools with other crane sites in the Flyway.
Mr. Heo Seok concluded the New Year greeting call appreciating each participant’s involvement and support to execute the new conservation project, “2021 – the crane’s sky highway connection (Rumi) project.”
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