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Asia Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Strategy



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Around 150 migratory people representing government officials and technical experts from 15 countries in the Asia Pacific and beyond and the Convention on Wetlands and Migratory Species, recently flocked at the Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan between 16 and 19 October 2000 to participate in a three and a half day landmark international workshop to promote the conservation of migratory waterbirds and their habitats in the Asia Pacific : click here for workshop programme.

The opening ceremony consisted of addresses from Mr. Hikari Kobayashi (Councilor to the Minister's Office, Environment Agency of Japan), Ms. Alison Russell-French, (Assistant Secretary, Coast & Clean Seas Branch, Environment Australia), Mr. Oyadomari Kosei, (Mayor of Naha City) and Dr. Gerard Boere (International Programme Coordinator, Wetlands International).

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Group photo on 19 Nov 2000. Photo: Env. Agency of Japan

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Workshop sessions in progress. Photo: Env. Agency of Japan

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Alison Russell-French giving her speech during the opening ceremony. Photo: Env. Agency of Japan

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Workshop sessions in progress. Photo: Gerard Boere

Presentations of the first day contained a range of interesting presentations that highlight the success of the Asia Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Strategy: 1996-2000 and its Action Plans for Anatidae, shorebirds and cranes : click here for overview. As evidenced by presentations from Japan, China and Russia, the three networks of internationally important sites (currently 68 sites in 10 countries) are providing a platform to promote and increase public awareness for migratory waterbirds in the East Asian Australasian region and to provide site-based training and conservation. The Strategy is funded and implemented co-operatively by governments, the Conventions on Wetlands and Migratory Species, international and national NGOs and local people.

A series of short presentations on a cross-section of related international initiatives for waterbird and wetland conservation (Siberian Crane Grus leucogeranus, Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor, Saunder's Gull Larus saundersii, Asian Red Data Book and Important Bird Area programme, Asian Wetland Inventory, Yellow Sea tidal wetland conservation) revealed the wide variety of ongoing activities. They also served to highlight the need for increased action to conserve threatened waterbirds and their habitats.

A poster display area provided an opportunity for many groups to highlight ongoing local, national and international waterbird conservation issues and activities. OlympusŪ showcased a new technology that permits the development of bird field guides that can play the recordings of birds.

An evening reception hosted by Environment Agency of Japan complete with traditional Ryukyuan dances and drum dances provided by the local people provided a fitting end to the first day.

The second day focussed on identifying priorities for conservation within a second Strategy: 2001-2005 and three species-group Action Plans (Anatidae, cranes and shorebirds). These will provide an international framework to further promote the conservation of migratory waterbirds and their wetland habitats in the Asia-Pacific into the 21st century. Workshop sessions focussed on finalising these documents. Actions in the next five years will include building and strengthening of three existing networks to cover other important sites, expansion of the North East Asian Crane Site Network to include of sites of international importance for the globally threatened Oriental Stork Ciconia boyciana, training and capacity building, public awareness, management planning, reviews of legislation on waterbirds, preparation of an Action Plan and establishment of a site network in the Central Asian-Indian flyway and many other issues. Draft consultation plans are available. Final copies of these four documents will be published and widely distributed in early 2001: click here for final documents.

The sub-tropical Okinawa chain of islands are well known for the spectacular coral reefs and sea grass beds, home to myriad of fishes, turtles and dugongs and other marine life. A field trip on the third morning provided an opportunity for participants to visit a few coastal wetlands around the southern part of Okinawa island that face a challenge of balancing development and tourism with conservation. Sites visited included the Manko Tidal Flat - the 11th Ramsar site in Japan, notable for its mangroves and migratory waterbirds, the Awase Tidal Flats (slated for development) and Toyosaki Land Reclamation Site (a large tidal area called Yone Higata, previously one of the best sites for migratory birds). For many participants the two Blackfaced Spoonbills Platalea minor (globally threatened species) spotted resting at the reclaimed tidal flats of Yone Higata was the highlight of the trip.

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Manko Tidal Flats, Japan's 11th Ramsar site and Shorebird Network site. Photo: Taej Mundkur

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Toyosaki Land Reclamation Site. Photo: Gerard Boere

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Media attendance during the field trip. Photo: Gerard Boere

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Traditional Ryukyuan dances and rum dances performed during the evening reception. Photo: Env. Agency of Japan

On the third afternoon, an open symposium on the conservation of Migratory Waterbirds and their habitats was organised for children and adults. The symposium covered interesting issues related to waterbird conservation in Japan and in other countries. A travelling international art exhibition was on display showcasing the art of North Asian children.

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Children's artwork from Russia. Photo: Taej Mundkur

Meetings of the four coordinating bodies, the Asia-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Committee (MWCC), the Workings Groups on Anatidae, cranes and shorebirds were held to finalise and approve the various documents.

The final morning was devoted to presentations and feedback from the various workshop sessions, revised draft of the Strategy and finalised Action Plans for Anatidae, shorebirds and cranes. The "Okinawa Statement" was fully endorsed by the workshop : click here for final statement .

Ms. Alison Russell-French (Environment Australia and Interim Chair of the MWCC), Mr. Mori Kojiro (Director of Wildlife Protection Division, Environment Agency of Japan) and Mr. Kinjo Toyoaki (Chief of Tomigusuku Village) provided the closing remarks.

Turning the Strategy and Action Plans into real conservation measures for migratory waterbirds and their habitats will require the support and active involvement of people across the region. We look forward to following up on the recommendations of the Okinawa Statement over the next five years with your active collaboration in this venture.

Wetlands International is very grateful to the active contributions made by the participants throughout the workshop. We value the generous support from Environment Agency of Japan, Environment Australia, authorities of the Naha City, Tomigusuku Village and Okinawa Prefecture and the Okinawa Workshop NGO Steering Committee to organise this successful meeting.

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Editorial note: This page and other reports from the 2000 Okinawa Workshop originally appeared on the former website of Wetlands International - Asia Pacific (ngo.asiapac.net/wetlands/) in year 2000. These reports now appear on this website http://www.jawgp.org/anet/. The final Strategy document for 2001-2005 was published and can be downloaded from the website of Australia Government. Last update May 2004.