(20 March 1997)

Note: The meeting reported below was extraordinarily successful and was attended by Rebecca D'Cruz from the Ramsar Bureau; this summary report was contributed by Taej Mundkur of Wetlands International - Asia Pacific.

A major international workshop on the conservation of wetlands and waterbirds in North East Asia was attended by 130 government and NGO experts in Qinhuangdao, People's Republic of China, on the coast of the Bohai Sea, 4-7 March 1997. It was hosted by the Ministry of Forestry, China, and organized in collaboration with the Environment Agency of Japan and Wetlands International.

Outputs of the deliberations and recommendations of the meeting are contained in the "Beidaihe Declaration". During the course of four days, the workshop discussed three main themes:

1. Cooperation for wetland and waterbird conservation in North East Asia. The meeting reviewed several international conservation and management initiatives in order to identify mechanisms to implement these in the region.

  • A draft document "Priorities for wetland conservation in North East Asia" was developed outlining the main conservation issues and a framework for cooperation for the region.
  • A call was made for the priorities identified within the Ramsar Strategic Plan 1997-2002 and the Asia Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Strategy: 1996-2000 to be fully implemented in all countries of the region.
  • Development of a regional agreement for the conservation of migratory waterbirds was supported.
  • The importance of establishing mechanisms for cooperation in the management of transboundary wetlands and wetlands along major rivers was stressed.
  • A priority was placed on developing or updating national inventories of wetlands as a mechanism to monitor their status.

2. Crane and wetland conservation in North East Asia. The session dealt with identifying conservation issues for cranes in each country, opportunities of using satellite technology for studying migration of cranes and identifying their habitat use, management approaches to sites of importance to cranes, importance of public awareness, research and the value of setting up a network of sites to promote their conservation.

One highlight of the workshop was the formal launch of the North East Asian Crane Site Network on 7 March under the auspices of the "Asia-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Strategy: 1996-2000". Sixteen sites, including several Ramsar sites and two transboundary reserves were nominated that effectively provide a link between important breeding, staging and wintering areas for cranes in the region.

The sites nominated are:

  • Kytalyk Nature Reserve, Khingansky Nature Reserve and Ganukan Game Reserve, Lake Khanka Nature Reserve and Daursky Nature Reserve in Russia;
  • Mongol Daguur Strictly Protected Area in Mongolia;
  • Xingkai Hu Nature Reserve, Yellow River Delta Nature Reserve, Yancheng Nature Reserve and Poyang Hu Nature Reserve in China;
  • Han River Estuary and Cheolwon Basin in the Republic of Korea; and
  • Kiritappu Marsh, Akkeshi Lake and Bekanbeushi Marsh, Kushiro Marsh, Yashiro and Arasaki (Izumi) in Japan

Significantly, some of these sites support more than half of the global population of some crane species. For example, 95% of Siberian Cranes Grus leucogeranus winter in Poyang Lake, more than 60% of Red-crowned Cranes Grus japonensis winter in Yancheng and more than 60% White-naped Cranes Grus vipio winter in Arasaki.

Additional sites from these countries are expected to be added to the network in the future. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea has also expressed interested in participating in the Network and in the nomination of two important sites.

3. Integrating wetland and waterbird conservation in China. A wide range of wetland habitats, issues and species conservation challenges were discussed. Greater efforts for conservation of wetlands through designation of additional reserves and international cooperation were identified among national priorities.

The workshop was made possible with generous funding received from the Environment Agency of Japan, the Ministry of Forestry of China, the Charitable Trust Taisei Corporation Natural and Historical Environment Fund, AEON Group Environment Foundation, Environment Australia, China Wildlife Conservation Association, Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, Regional Office of Asia and Pacific of the United Nations Environment Program, World Wide Fund for Nature/Overseas Development Administration, Qinhuangdao City Government and Wetlands International.

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