Over the past decades, some 45km2 of tidal-flat habitat around Incheon Metropolitan City have been reclaimed for the expansion of the city. In order to compensate for the loss of the tidal-flat associated with building the new Songdo district, the Incheon Free Economic Zone Authority (IFEZ) has initiated a waterbird habitat restoration project including the construction of a wetland centre adjacent to the Songdo Tidal Flat Wetland of International Importance (‘Ramsar Site’). After a design phase from 2019 ~2022, the construction of the Centre is planned to begin from 2023.
In order to learn good practices for the design and future management of the proposed Songdo wetland centre, IFEZ held a workshop on this topic between 18th and 20th October with representatives from the local governments, academics, NGOs, relevant corporations and other stakeholders as well as overseas experts, with the support from EAAFP Secretariat. The Songdo Tidal Flat Ramsar Site supports thousands of migratory waterbirds by providing a stopover for roosting and feeding during their annual migration along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.
On the first day of the workshop, case studies on good practices for wetland centre design and management were presented by oversees participants from the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust (UK), Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (Singapore) the and Hong Kong Wetland Park (China). There were also presentations on the topic from local representatives from Suncheon and other exemplary wetland centres. The workshop was a good opportunity to understand how wetland centres and wetland conservation can be interconnected by the design and the programmes. Wetland centres should be designed with careful consideration of the unique wetland ecosystem so that they can successfully promote conservation of the wetland and wetland-dependent wildlife, and ensure the wise use of the wetland.
On the second day, a visit was made to the Songdo Tidal Flat Ramsar Site before the participants came back to hold discussions in two groups on a), the design and management of the proposed Songdo wetland centre, and b), the management and restoration of the wetland habitats around the centre.
For the Centre, it was recommended that the location and scale of the wetland centre should be properly considered for better conservation of wetland and waterbirds, and for promoting education andr public awareness. It was also emphasized that the proposed Songdo Wetland Centre should act as a bridge to connect nature and people.
For the wetland habitat, it was recommended that suitable feeding and roosting areas be created for waterbirds and that the ecological connection with nearby wetland habitats be considered. The latter includes the need to link wetlands across administrative boundaries when designing the restoration area, rather than confining consideration to the Songdo district.