The Convention’s CEPA Programme


News from the Republic of Korea

Training course for local stakeholders at KFEM's
Ganghwa Tidal Flat Centre, Gangwha Island

25-27 May, 2007

En route to the International Symposium on Improved Coastal Wetland Management in the southern coastal city of Suncheon, I attended a wetland training course from 25-27th May in Ganghwa Island, just off the north west coast of the Republic of Korea. I was invited by Mr Kim Kyung-won, Director of the Wetlands and Marine Campaign of the Korean Federation of Environmental Movement (KFEM) , and the country's NGO CEPA Focal Point for Ramsar. This was the second of three training sessions to be held this year at KFEM's Ganghwa Tidal Flat Centre with the overall objective of building the capacity of a broad range of stakeholders in coastal wetland management. The twenty participants included local government officials, schoolteachers, local KFEM office personnel, representatives from local NGOs, and volunteer wetland interpreters working in various parts of the country. Some of the participants are volunteers involved in regular bird counts along Korea's vast coastline, contributing to the solid body of information on migratory birds collected by birdwatchers along Asian flyways, while others are more concerned with introducing others - children and adults - to the wonder of coastal wetlands.

The previous training course focussed on the management of intertidal wetlands, their shorebirds, their value for residential and migratory birds, and the current threats facing these wetland, as well as management options. This second course focussed on one of Korea's flagship species, the Black-faced Spoonbill, its current status and threats to its survival, and the international cooperation that KFEM is involved in to safeguard the key sites along the bird's migratory range. The third training session will be on fish and fisheries in coastal wetlands, another issue of great significance to Korea's people.

The training weekend was an intensive mix of lectures and field visits to tidal mudflats, and spoonbill feeding and nesting areas on and around Ganghwa Island. I was able to take the opportunity to make a presentation to the participants on the Ramsar Convention, the importance of site designation and, of course, the role of the CEPA Programme in coastal wetland conservation.

KFEM is a national NGO with 52 offices distributed throughout the country.

Report and photos by Sandra Hails, CEPA Programme Officer, Ramsar Secretariat

Some photos of the training course . . .

The course involved field trips to Spoonbill nesting sites.


Mr Kim Kyung-won (left) with one of the course instructors, Dr Lee Kisup, a researcher on Spoonbill habitat, talking to participants in the restricted zone in the north of Ganghwa Island. Behind them is Udo Island, nesting place for Spoonbills, Cormorants and other species.


Looking from the north of Ganghwa Island to Udo Island in the foreground with North Korea behind.


Participamts spent 50% of the weekend course in lectures at the Ganghwa Tidal Flat Centre


KFEM's Gangwha Tidal Flat Centre


The centre is open to the public and runs courses for schoolchildren as well as conducting training courses


Mr Jang Dongyong, Director of the Gangwha centre, trying to get participants organised for a field trip!


View of Gangwha's tidal mudflats from the centre

Padi fields have been constructed from reclaimed tidal areas in the past and provide good feeding habitat for many wetland bird species - as well as providing livelihoods for many people.


Most rice is planted by machine . . .


. . . but some hand planting is still carried out in small areas f fields as necessary.


A Spoonbill photographed feeding in the padi fields very close to the Gangwha Centre during the course.

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