Archive For 'July, 2019'

NGOs help protect vital Asian wetland

Tuesday, July 09, 2019 at 11:41 AM

NGOs have worked together to influence national and international actors to protect an important coastal wetland.

The Chinese coast of the Yellow Sea was always a likely candidate for UNESCO World Heritage Status. The mudflats are vital for millions of migratory birds; they are essential feeding places on the difficult journeys–the birds there often are flying to or from places like the Russian Far East, Australia, and the Bay of Bengal.

In a region with high coastal development and shipping needs, parts of the Yellow Sea had become oases for the birds. Flagship species that depend on it include the critically endangered spoon-billed sandpiper.  


Rudong, China. Photo Rich Hearn/WWT.

Then, a few weeks before UNESCO was due to confirm the latest batch of World Heritage sites, conservationists were blindsided: the official recommendation was that the Yellow Sea should not be put forward as a candidate, for another five years.

Wetland scientists immediately approached the interested NGOs, both in China and abroad. As a network, this quickly reached many people and in a few weeks they had prepared a letter with more than 60 signatories for the UNESCO World Heritage Centre asking that rather than waiting until it was too late, they should inscribe the mudlfats on the World Heritage list now.

Once they had distributed the letter to the powers that be, it was an anxious wait.

Then on Friday morning, the news came through: the cooperation had worked. UNESCO officially made the migratory bird stops into World Heritage Sites!

Some conservationists had been fearful of the consequences of missing this opportunity for official protection and tourism investment. With it in place they can be more confident in saving species such as the spoon-billed sandpiper from extinction.

While there is still a lot of work to be done for these wetlands, the story so far is an encouraging case-study of how NGO networks can amplify their voice and get closer to their goals, by engaging in networks.


Chinese media reports the story in more detail; see also the participants including the Paulson Institute;

Posted in WWN Latest | Asia | Add a Comment

Youth Ramsar Japan visit to Slimbridge, UK

Tuesday, July 09, 2019 at 9:29 AM

The current and previous head of Youth Ramsar Japan, Takuma Satoh and Atushi Tanabe respectively, have visited the Slimbridge Wetland Centre in the UK. Maximising their time in Europe at the Ramsar Standing Committee meeting, they then went to the UK to meet WWN Deputy Chair Chris Rostron and colleagues.

Outside Peter Scott's house

Visiting Sir Peter Scott's house at Slimbrige. 

Takuma Satoh writes:

This was the first time I visited an overseas wetland visitor center. First of all, I was surprised at the scale of the Slimbridge Wetland Centre. I felt it was rooted in the locality: WWT centres in the UK have more than 1 million visitors per year and most of them visit from within 20 miles.

It is interesting that the zones of wetland conservation and animal contact are clearly separated, yet each place has different generations and interests for visitors.

By feeding the birds in the collection area, the children learn the original experiences of touching wild animals, while bird-loving adults can secretly observe wild birds. I expressed that it was somewhat like a Japanese zoo, but not exactly. The zoo has a strict permiter, and brings out the wild animals that are not there from the outside, but Slimbridge is the place in the wetland and there is an environment where the wild animals live better. The zoo ends only with contact, and we do not look after environmental conservation and relations with the local community. I felt that there was a fresh place.

I also felt it has a great deal of educational approaches. These had the flexibility to change the contents of the workshop according to the age and the needs of the visiting children. I felt that the connection was created so that not only the children in the area but also the visiting adults could learn.