The Second ‘Information Sharing Workshop and Training on Wetland Management’, Ramsar Regional Centre-East Asia Changwon, South Korea
The Second ‘Information Sharing Workshop and Training on Wetland Management’ organised by the Ramsar Regional Centre – East Asia (RRC-EA) took place from 13-17 September in Changwon City, South Korea. Twenty-nine wetland managers and officials attended the event with responsibility for wetland conservation from 15 Ramsar Contracting Parties across East to South Asia. The workshop and course was hosted by the Ministry of Environment and sponsored by Gyeongnam Province.
Mr. Kim Chan Woo (Chair, Ramsar Standing Committee and Director General, International Cooperation Office – Ministry of Environment) made his welcoming remarks, following Dr. Joo Gea Jae, the Honorary Director of the RRC-EA, who opened the event. Mr. Kim gave an overview of the implementation of the Ramsar Convention, both nationally and internationally, and the aim of the South Korea government to increase the number of Ramsar Sites from the current 14 to 37 by 2012. Then Mr. Kim Ho Ki (Director General – Environment and Greenery, Gyeongnam Provincial Government) expressed the commitment of Gyeongnam Province to continue to support the work of the RRC-EA.
The remainder of the morning session was devoted to presentations on the cultural values of wetlands, as well as the efforts being made to conserving the wetlands in South Korea and their biodiversity.
As participants with a wide range of wetland management experience attended the event, it was not surprising that the country presentations that followed aroused a lot of interest and discussion afterwards. Topics covered a variety of issues important to communities living in and around Ramsar Sites. Participants gave positive examples of the education and awareness activities they were conducting amongst students and the local villagers at their sites. However, they also mentioned the challenges they faced with incompatible development practices in the site’s buffer zones, such as conversion for palm oil plantations and other developments. Within their sites, they also faced problems with illegal poaching and logging, as well as insufficient awareness amongst decision makers about the value of wetlands.
On the third day, participants visited the Suncheon Bay Ramsar Site where they heard about the steps being taken to manage the two and a half million annual visitors. They also visited Junam Reservoir, a potential Ramsar Site based on its importance in South Korea.
The training component of the programme ran for the last two days and covered topics from ‘General Wetland Management’ (Lew Young, Ramsar Convention Secretariat), ‘Wetland Restoration, Creation and Enhancement (Bena Smith, WWF Hong Kong) and ‘Economic Valuation of Wetlands’ (Ritesh Kumar, Wetlands International). For each of these sessions, the presenter first gave an overview of the topic before giving the participants a case study simulation in which they had to work in small groups to solve the issues that were presented to them relating to the topic. These case study simulations included one on how to deal with a range of issues facing an imaginary Ramsar Site; how to restore an important wetland habitat that had been subjected to various disturbances; and how to carry out an economic valuation of wetland.
With the range of experience amongst the participants, the workshop and training course tried to provide opportunities for them to learn from each other through presentations and role play exercises, as much as from the South Korean hosts and specially invited presenters. This proved a success as a number of participants said that they, with the assistance of the Ramsar Regional Centre – East Asia, would now like to organize similar types of events in their own country in the local language, thus allowing a greater number of local site managers to participate.
For further information, contact:
International Communications Officer
Ramsar Regional Centre - East Asia