The first meeting of the Shorebird Working Group (SWG), held on 22, 23, 24 April 1998 at Chongming Do, at the mouth of the Yangtze river, northeast of Shanghai, China, was by any measure a very successful affair..
The SWG has been set up under the Asia-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Committee, a sub-committee of the Wetlands International - Asia Pacific Council. The SWG is primarily a technical expert group formed to assist in development and monitor implementation of the Shorebird Action Plan which has been developed under the "Asia-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Strategy: 1996-2000".
The SWG has 6 government and NGO members, namely from Russia (Dr Nick Gerasimov), Japan (Tobai Sadayoshi, WWF-Japan), China (Yuxaing Li, Shuangtaizihe National Nature Reserve), Australia (Tom Scotney, Environment Australia), Hong Kong, China (Dr Lew Young, WWF-Hong Kong) and the Philippines (Carlo Custodio, DENR). Mark Barter is the interim Chair (Chairman, Australasian Wader Studies Group) and Doug Watkins, the Shorebird Flyway Officer.
Here are some summary highlights from the meeting:
The meeting was attended by all the SWG members, WI-China (Li Zouwei) and observers from Singapore (Lim Haw Chuan, Sungai Buloh Nature Reserve), Hong Kong (So Ping-man, Agriculture & Fisheries) and South Korea (Kim Jin Han, Forestry Administration). In addition, there were some Chinese observers; assistant director from Shuangtaizihe National Nature Reserve), Tang Sixian (ECNU, Shanghai) and several from the Agriculture & Fisheries Bureau, Shanghai who are responsible for setting up the proposed nature reserve on the east end of Chongming. It is also a proposed (foreshadowed) shorebird network site.
In the meeting, the participants deliberated on several issues and were able to provide constructive comments on the action plan, the process of finalization of the action plan, its review, endorsement and distribution of the annual work plan of the Flyway Officer, and actions needed for this year. Mark Barter has been re-elected as the Chair until the end of the term of the Strategy.
As a result, the group has in-principle agreed on the action plan, which will be finalized and be ready for the Tokyo meeting. The minutes from the meeting are being compiled by Doug Watkins and will be circulated later. The next meeting of the group was proposed for the end of this year; the time and venue is to be decided.
The meeting included an informative presentation from representatives of each of the Chinese network sites (with the exception of Mai Po, Hong Kong). The presentations provided a good opportunity for the network site representatives to exchange information and get a better understanding of issues and values of the different sites. For the SWG members it was a great chance to understand the issues of Chinese network sites. This was a valuable part of the meeting and it is hoped that it can become a feature of all working group meetings.
The weather was lovely, warm, cool, windy and rainy on the various days. There were those who managed to do some bird-watching on the field trip to observe the extensive reed-beds and mudflats that formed a core part of the proposed reserve. They had beautiful views of the Chinese Parrotbill, Chinese Bush Warbler, Chinese Egret, Eurasian Whimbrel, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Dunlin, Spotted Redshank, Curlew Sandpiper, Red Knot, Broad-billed Sandpiper and many other shorebirds in breeding plumage although the main migration season there was already over for the waterbirds.
-- reported by Dr. Taej Mundkur, Coordinator, Waterbird Conservation Programme, Wetlands International - Asia Pacific, and reprinted from "Wetlands International - Asia Pacific News," 4 May 1998.