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Danny Rogers reports some positive initiatives

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Dr Danny Rogers reports on the recent Ramsar meeting held in Chang Won City, South Korea. An important focus for Dr Rogers and colleagues was to promote the book Invisible Connections by Jan van de Kam.    
The book, which highlights the importance of the flyway for migratory shorebirds, that stretches from Australasia to the Yellow Sea and on to Siberia and the Arctic, was launched very successfully at a Ramsar side event that was well attended by official delegates. Written in Korean, English and Chinese and lavishly illustrated with Jan van de Kam’s insightful photographs, the book is proving to be a very effective initiative that has received only positive acclaim. 


As a result of sponsorship from Wetlands International (and ultimately from Shell) it was possible to provide free copies were provided to every official Ramsar delegate and others with interest and concern in the tidal flats and their importance for migratory shorebirds.

Jan van de Kam at the official launch of his book Invisible Connections, shown with Nick Davidson, Deputy Secretary-General of the Ramsar Secretariat. Photo from Danny Rogers.

On another positive note, there were signals from the Korean government that they would no longer approve major tidal flat reclamations, a sentiment that was embodied in some of the meeting’s statements. Part of this seemingly tide-turning attitude is the fact that the Ramsar meeting really showed Koreans how much so many people from other countries valued their tidal flats, reinforcing the idea that the Koreans do have something very special and unusual. There were 158 government delegations and the meeting received good press in South Korea, something that was notably absent here in Australia even though Australia has many more Ramsar sites than most other signatories and many of the sites are large and parts of national parks or other protected areas.

Left: Danny Rogers, Jan van de Kam and Alison Russell-French, President of Birds Australia.
Below: Jan van de Kam briefly took time out from his photography for the launch of Invisible Connections. 
Photos from Ken Gosbell.

Danny hopes the convention helped better explain the true nature of a Ramsar listing, particularly for local government officials since it seems there is widespread misunderstanding about the goal of a Ramsar listing. It is not a way of locking away land so that it can never be developed or used for other purposes. Rather, it is to ensure the wise management and use of a wetland so that it can both retain its ecological character and conservation value while still providing other services to the environment and community (for example, protection of catchments, purification of water sources, maintenance of sustainable shell fish and other fish stocks by traditional methods of harvesting) The announcements of three new Ramsar sites in Korea were welcomed (although tempered by the fact that listed sites in Korea are very small), as was the decision to make the Geum Estuary a wildlife protection area. These are all encouraging signs – hopefully it means that the tide is really beginning to turn in the Yellow Sea.

Text: V.B. November 08

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Ramsar meeting in South Korea 2008 Ramsar conference wrap up with Ken Gosbell

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