Environmental education and ecotourism in Northeast Asia


Workshop on Environmental Education and Ecotourism at Crane Network Sites in Northeast Asia

Kushiro, Japan, 27 February - 2 March 2002

In Japan, cranes attract many visitors to the sites. The similar trend is growing in other Asian countries, particularly in China and South Korea. Therefore cranes can be used as flagship species to promote wetland and wildlife conservation if there is a good education program at the site, and the tourist industry will also generate income to the local community in a sustainable way. However, if the sites are not well managed, an influx of visitors will cause considerable disturbance and damage to these sites, and sometimes things will get worse as the result from inappropriate measures to promote tourism. In the view of this, the North East Asian Crane Site Network (one of the three waterbird networks under the Asia-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Strategy) organised two workshops and invited important sites for cranes to develop a plan on education and ecotourism at sites important for cranes.

The Network is managed by the Wild Bird Society of Japan (BirdLife in Japan) and financed by the Ministry of the Environment, Japan, under the Asia-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Strategy. It aims to encourage international cooperation on conservation of cranes and wetlands and to ensure the long-term survival of all crane species and their habitat in the region. Eighteen important sites (10 of which are Ramsar Sites) for crane conservation in Russia, Mongolia, China, North Korea, South Korea and Japan have joined the Network since its launch in 1997. Another 10 sites are preparing to join the Network.

The first workshop was held in March 2001, at the Yellow River Delta Nature Reserve, China. About 30 participants from six countries attended the workshop. At the workshop, nature reserve workers from different countries were divided into three groups to develop their own simple projects on education or visitor management.

Most participants then returned to this follow-up workshop at Kushiro, Hokkaido, Japan, 27 February - 2 March 2002, to report the results and discuss future plans on this main topic. Based on the discussion, a handbook with guidelines and examples on this theme will be published by the time of the Ramsar COP8 (November 2002).

Special study tours had been organized for the 40 participants from seven countries, including two wildlife NGO workers from Bhutan, during their stay in Kushiro. The overseas participants are impressed by the education programmes, management, local community involvement at reserves in eastern Hokkaido. This gives them the inspiration of management at their home reserves. The workshop has also provided chances for mutual understanding of reserve workers in different Asian countries and given chances for further cooperation: Gumi in South Korea pledged to join the Network, Cholwon in South Korea proposed to hold an international workshop for the Network, China and Russia agreed to strengthen the cooperation of the Lake Khanka-Xingkai international reserve, and Chinese reserve workers plan to come back to Hokkaido and study the experience of crane site management.

The Network plans to hold a training course for the reserve workers in North East Asia (particularly those who work in Russia, Mongolia and China) on designing and conducting education programmes and ecotourism management. If fund-raising is successful, the training course will be held in Mongolia in August 2003.

The workshops are financially supported by the Ramsar Convention's Evian Project (funded by the Société des Eaux Minérales d'Evian of the Danone Corporate Group (France) and the French Global Environment Facility) and the City Government of Kushiro, Japan.

-- reported by Simba Chan, Wild Bird Society of Japan,
Flyway Officer of the North East Asian Crane Site Network

Workshop at the Yellow River Delta, China,
March 2001


Workshop in Kushiro, Japan, February-March 2002

Workshop in Kushiro, Japan, February-March 2002

"Crane games" for school education

Study trip to wintering ground of Red-crowned Crane, Tsurui-Ito Sanctuary, Hokkaido

Study trip to Tsurui-Ito Sanctuary, Hokkaido

Tsurui-Ito Red-crowned Crane Sanctuary, Hokkaido

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