Third Wetland Link International (WLI) – Asia Conference
This 3rd conference of the WLI-Asia regional group brought together 47 participants from 9 Asian countries along with Chris Rostron, Head of WLI, Sandra Hails, Ramsar’s CEPA Programme Officer, and Max Finlayson, a member of Ramsar’s STRP.
|Group photo at Kampung Kuantan|
The overall aim of the conference was to share best practice at wetland centres, establish contacts between centres across the Asia region and to further develop WLI-Asia as an effective centre network. The meeting was opened by Mr Daniel Lee Abdullah from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. The keynote presentation was delivered by Sandra Hails on the value of wetland centres for wetland management and wise use, the formal relationship between WLI and Ramsar since 2005, and the important role for wetland centres identified in the Convention’s CEPA Programme. Chris Rostron reviewed the current state and activities of the global network, noting increasing membership and some interesting network projects being developed among various centres. A more detailed look at WLI-Asia was presented by Eric Wong from the Hong Kong Wetland Park looking at some of the inter-centre activities that have taken place. The three main sessions which followed included presentations and animated discussions on: Updating on wetland centre activities across the region; People and wetlands (looking at, for example engaging local communities); and Wetland science (for example, translating science, and evaluating centres and their activities).
|Display of awareness materials was an opportunity for sharing of ideas and experiences|
Two workshops allowed more time for group discussions and feedback to the plenary. The first, facilitated by Max Finlayson, explored evaluation criteria for wetland centres, a topic that all participants could relate to. This followed an earlier presentation from Max outlining a project at Charles Sturt University, Australia, which has brought together centre managers, wetland experts and education experts to enhance the role of wetland centres in developing messages and materials about wetlands. A second, facilitated by Chris Rostron, helped to chart the way forward for WLI-Asia, identifying key roles for the network including acting as a platform for the sharing of information between centres, liaising with research centres in the network to clarify key environmental messages and targets; facilitating the twinning of centres and perhaps linking centres along flyways . . . and much more. A report on the meeting will be posted on the WLI-Asia web site as will PDF versions of all the presentations made (see here www.wwt.org.uk/wli/regional-partners/asia/news/wli-asia-news).
|Group work to discuss criteria for evaluating wetland centres|
Aside from the formal presentations and discussions and the two workshop sessions, a great deal of valuable informal exchange of materials, information and experiences took place during the conference. This informal exchange was also encouraged through the CEPA materials displayed by participants around the meeting room.
The Conference was also an opportunity for the hosts, the Malaysian Nature Society, to present the best wetland centre award to the Salim Ali Centre at the Keoladeo Natianol Park in India.
|Ms Aditi Raina and Dr. Abishek Bhatnager, Salim Ali Centre, Keoladeo National Park, India, receiving their best centre award from Chris Roston (first from left) and Prof. Maketab Mohamed, President of the Malaysian Nature Society (second from left)|
During the conference participants were treated to an evening boat trip to Kampung Kuantan to see the synchronised flashing of fireflies in mangrove trees along the Selangor river, and an afternoon trip to Kuala Selangor Nature Park (a mangrove area) where the visitor centre, watchtower and extensive boardwalk were much enjoyed by participants – and gave more opportunity for informal exchanges.
This 3rd WLI-Asia meeting was largely funded by the Malaysian Ministry for Natural Resources and Environment with some support from the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in the UK (WLI is a programme of WWT). The Malaysian Nature Society jointly organized and ran the meeting with WLI Global.
Background information on WLI-Asia
WLI-Asia was launched at a first meeting of Asian wetland centre staff in 2005 and since then the regional group has maintained a web site at www.wli-asia.org (the site is managed by a network member, the Hong Kong Wetland Park - www.wetlandpark.com). The global network now stand at over 350 centres – more information on WLI aims, how to join, and its current membership is available here www.wli.org or from Chris Rostron (email@example.com)
Ramsar’s CEPA resolution X.8 specifically identifies wetland centres as key places of learning and training about wetlands and wetland-related CEPA and encourages Parties to support their participation to the WLI network. The Secretariat signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with WLI in 2005.
Photos by Sandra Hails and Laila. Report by Sandra Hails