• Welcoming Paleik Lake (EAAF154) and Pyu Lake (EAAF155) as new Flyway Network Sites of Myanmar

      Paleik Lake © Thiri Dae We Aung/BANCA Pyu Lake © Thiri Sandar Zaw On the 16th of November 2023, the East Asian-Australasian Partnership (EAAFP) welcomed the addition of two new Flyway Network Sites (FNS) of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar namely, Paleik Lake (EAAF154) and Pyu Lake (EAAF155), marking the seventh and eighth FNS in the country.   Flock of Greylag Goose recorded in December 2016 at Paleik Lake FNS © Thiri Dae We Aung/BANCA  Recognised as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) and a Key Biodiversity Area (KBA), Paleik Lake (EAAF154) provides food and shelter to globally threatened migratory waterbirds such as Critically Endangered Baer’s Pochard (Aythya baeri), Vulnerable Common Pochard (Aythya ferina), and other more abundant species including Greylag Goose (Anser anser), Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), and Black-headed Ibis (Threskiornis melanocephalus), as well as a breeding ground for other waterbird species. Paleik Lake is also known to provide a variety of livelihood benefits to local communities primarily through agriculture and aquaculture by supplying water for the cultivation of rice and vegetables and as a habitat for economically important fishes and aquatic plants. Additionally, Paleik Lake plays a vital role in mitigating and adapting to climate change, specifically in preventing droughts and floods during extreme weather events.  Diving duck species observed at the northeast part of Pyu Lake FNS in January 2019 © Thiri Dae We Aung Home to a diverse population of aquatic flora and fauna, Pyu Lake (EAAF155) annually supports up to 40 waterbird species including the Critically Endangered Baer’s Pochard (Aythya baeri) and the Vulnerable Common Pochard (Aythya ferina). Pyu Lake is characterised by its surrounding agricultural land with abundant crops that support the livelihoods of local communities. In addition, the presence of economically significant aquatic plants and fish in the lake greatly contributes to the preservation of traditional fishing practices among the local villagers. With no prior conservation frameworks in place or national/local legal recognition as a critical habitat for migratory waterbirds and other species, Pyu Lake’s designation as an FNS is a crucial step in ensuring that further biodiversity loss is minimised, and appropriate conservation measures are implemented.   Myanmar’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation established the Mandalay Region Wetlands Conservation Committee which enables the conduct of annual wintering survey and Asian Waterbird Census in both Paleik Lake and Pyu Lake, the implementation of education awareness activities focusing on migratory waterbird species, among others. Since 2016, the Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA) performs the annual waterbird monitoring in both sites. Moreover, the Paleik Bird Lover Association and Shwe Kan Tharyar Nature Conservation Association are local conservation groups established to conserve the biodiversity of Paleik Lake and Pyu Lake, respectively.   With the valuable support of national and local conservation groups, the designation of Paleik Lake and Pyu Lake offers a ray of hope for enhanced governance and management of wetland ecosystems in Myanmar. As part of their conservation measures, management plans for Paleik Lake and Pyu Lake are intended to be developed. Both FNS are also recommended for designation as Ramsar sites by the Ramsar Administrative Authority of the Forest Department of Myanmar.  The expansion of the Flyway Site Network exemplifies the unwavering commitment of the EAAFP and its Partners in conserving and restoring important habitats for migratory waterbirds both for nature and people. It is a truly remarkable partnership driven by our shared goals and appreciation to safeguard the connectivity of wetland habitats along the flyway, thereby providing safe havens for migratory waterbirds.


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  • EAAFP welcomes new Communication Officer: Wen Qing Ng

    © Wen Qing Ng The East-Asian Australasian Flyway Partnership welcomes a dynamic addition as Wen Qing Ng joins the Secretariat as the Communication Officer, infusing a new dimension into the arena. With a profound interest in wildlife conservation and biosecurity projects, her unique perspective and diverse background spanning over a decade promise to breathe fresh energy into the field. Originating from Malaysia, Wen Qing brings a unique perspective shaped by the rich cultural diversity of her homeland. Her firsthand understanding of the challenges involved in fostering environmental responsibility within varied populations has ignited her passion for effective communication. This journey led her to pursue a postgraduate degree in Science Communication at the New Zealand's University of Otago. Here, she cultivated skills in multimedia storytelling, skillfully blending the realms of art and science. Her proactive involvement in an international research unit further underscored her ability to communicate complex concepts through a variety of media. © Wen Qing Ng A notable highlight in Wen Qing's career is the creation of the documentary "Kauri K9s." This compelling production sheds light on training sniffer dogs to combat kauri dieback, a critical threat to New Zealand's conifer species. The success of this endeavor showcases her prowess in weaving scientific information with engaging narratives drawn from local communities. However, Wen Qing's communication prowess extend beyond the surface. She recognizes that effective communication involves not only aesthetics but also addressing the fundamental "why" and reaching the right audience. Her experiences collaborating with avian experts and enthusiasts within international organizations during her undergraduate years have honed her strategic communication skills, setting her apart as a versatile communicator. Amid the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic, Wen Qing's adeptness in planning and execution shone brightly. By the close of 2022, she successfully completed her Master of Science Communication, specializing in Science and Natural History Filmmaking, demonstrating her resilience and commitment to her pursuits. In her role as Communications Officer, Wen Qing is poised to champion the causes of biodiversity and community well-being through innovative communication strategies. Her vision extends beyond mere metrics, understanding that true impact is measured by tangible progress. With her on board, the science communication landscape gains a dedicated advocate for wildlife conservation and biosecurity, with a unique blend of creativity and strategic thinking. As we extend our warmest welcome to Wen Qing Ng, we eagerly anticipate the positive influence she will bring to our shared endeavors.


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  • Farewell to Yeji Park, Administration and Finance Assistant

    © EAAFP Secretariat In the words of Yeji Park, "Working at an international organization like EAAFP was one of my desires as a student who studied international trade and international relations. At first, as a person who did not major in the field of environment, all the topics we are dealing with here were too unfamiliar to me. Trying to participate in birdwatching and operating our booth at external events naturally made me feel confident and the interested in this field. Also I believe that I acquired valuable skills and experiences that enriched both my personal and professional development. © EAAFP Secretariat One of the primary tasks I undertook was managing the procedures for overseas transactions including Small Grant Fund 2023. Through this task, I was able to gain a profound understanding of financial compliance, and an experience instilled in me a strong sense of responsibility and attention to detail, ensuring that each transaction was executed accurately and efficiently. Another vital aspect of my role was writing a meeting minutes of the Financial Sub Committee, and creating admin-related documents such as certificates of internship, volunteer etc. Since those tasks needed the capture of essential discussions from the whole conversations from the meeting and providing accurate information, I was able to maintain consistency in formatting and content and emphasize the importance of clarity. Also, I operated the booth during external events, it provided me with a unique opportunity to engage with diverse stakeholders. This experience fostered my ability to represent the organization effectively and build meaningful connections with visitors. © EAAFP Secretariat Overall, my time in the secretariat taught me invaluable lessons in time management, organization, and teamwork. It developed me with problem-solving skills, remaining adaptable in the face of various tasks. Moreover, I learned to appreciate the collective efforts that drive success in an organization. Through my internship, I not only deepened my knowledge of administrative and financial functions but also essential skills such as communication, putting emphasis on detail, and adaptability. These experiences have made a strong foundation for my future endeavors and a sense of confidence and readiness to tackle complex challenges working in an organization."


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  • Saying Goodbye to Ms. Vivian Fu, Senior Communication Officer of EAAFP Secretariat

    With a mix of fond memories and deep appreciation, the EAAFP Secretariat is preparing to say goodbye to Vivian Fu, their esteemed Senior Communication Officer. Over the past five years, Vivian has wholeheartedly dedicated herself to the mission of protecting migratory waterbirds and their habitats in East Asian-Australasian Flyway. As she moves on from her position, it is important to reflect on the incredible achievements she has made during her time with the Secretariat. In this special interview, we explore the meaningful experiences and valuable insights that have shaped Vivian's journey within the Secretariat. From her humble beginnings to her most cherished projects, this article offers a glimpse into the person behind the role and the significant impact she has had on the EAAFP. Join us as we celebrate Vivian's determined spirit, her impressive accomplishments, and the enduring legacy she leaves behind at the Secretariat as she embarks on a new professional chapter. Question: Hi Vivian, you have been with the EAAFP Secretariat for about 5 years, but now you are leaving, how do you feel? Answer: It's a bit of a mixed bag for me because I've been here for nearly five years, gaining loads of valuable experience. I've built up some great connections and friendships in Korea and within and beyond the Flyway, so it's sad to say goodbye to our Partners, collaborators, local friends, and all. The Secretariat also granted me invaluable experiences in different perspectives, meeting and reaching out to many people. I was always impressed by the passion of people, and it was an amazing time working with them. Yet, I am sure that these friendships and experiences will be continued as I will work in the conservation field, and that we will meet again or work together at some point in the future! But, at the same time, the more I worked, the more I realized there are still a lot of things I don’t know and lacked skill and knowledge. So, it's time for me to shake things up, try something different, and embrace new opportunities to learn and grow. Question: Going back to the beginning, what made you have an interest in migratory birds and conservation works? Answer: I think my love for animals started when I was little. As a kid, I used to go hiking with my family and watch documentaries about animals, which really sparked my interest. When I got to university, I chose to study ecology at the University of Hong Kong because it was the only subject that allowed me to focus on terrestrial ecology, which I was fascinated by. When I was young, I had this simple dream of saving the Giant Panda because they are cute. I also need to thank my teacher, Dr. Billy Hou, for organizing activities outside of class, where my classmates and I got to explore various things like bird watching, plants, amphibians, reptiles, butterflies—you name it. The wonders of the natural world truly amazed me. I came to understand that while the Giant Panda had plenty of people looking out for them, other animals like birds, amphibians, reptiles, butterflies, and plants received relatively less awareness and needed conservation attention too. That's why I shifted my focus to working on different animals. I actually started my career studying amphibians and then moved on to birds. It felt like a meaningful way for me to engage and contribute to the world of conservation. Even in urban areas like Hong Kong, I can still find animals, birds, and amphibians surviving in small pockets of natural habitat. I'm always amazed when I step outside my home on rainy days and hear the calls of frogs, knowing they're surviving underneath the concrete-paved roads. It just goes to show that no matter where you are, there's always something you can do to help protect nature. With my background in ecology from university and my expertise as an ecologist, I truly grasp the importance of habitats and the environment for the well-being of the animals I love. These growing interests in conservation work have become an integral part of who I am. It's a common trajectory—getting to know these animals, falling in love with them, and feeling a deep desire to protect and conserve them. Question: Then, what brought you to the EAAFP Secretariat and what was your motivation? Answer: Well, I've actually been tagging along with the conservation of birds for a while now. I spent a good 8 years working on bird conservation before joining EAAFP. Back then, I was involved in a joint programme on bird conservation in China, working alongside the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society and BirdLife International. There were projects to conserve endangered bird species such as Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Chinese Crested Tern, Yellow-breasted Bunting, etc, and all the time working with local communities. Over the years I realized how crucial it is to engage people and convince them to support conservation efforts. That's why I believe in the significance of CEPA (Communication/Capacity Building, Education, Participation, and Awareness) work, that it should be merged at every levels, even though its impact may take some time to show. So, when I heard about the position of Communication Officer at EAAFP and the work will be focusing on CEPA, I felt this might be where I could explore and devote more energy to messaging the importance of the conservation of birds and bringing people to work together. I saw the need for more effort in CEPA in conservation, and I wanted to learn and dive headfirst into that realm of work. That's what keeps me motivated. Question: I think CEPA activities would be possible in other countries, would working in EAAFP make any difference? Answer: Actually, what I'm really excited about is EAAFP itself. It's on a whole other level compared to my previous focus on just one country or region. With EAAFP, we're talking about a Flyway scope, where things operate on a much grander scale as well as the impact is wider. Working here gives me international experience and allows me to see things with a wider vision, and I could work with the government, leading conservationists, scientists, and people with different backgrounds. It allows me to understand more about the systems and mindsets of government, IGOs, and international and local NGOs. I found that many times that people are interested and willing to support conservation actions when they understand the needs, it is then our role to find out ways for them to facilitate, and keep encouraging. Question: I believe the Communication Officer and Communication Team are doing a lot for CEPA activities. What are the most interesting/memorable CEPA activities you have worked on so far? Answer: That’s a difficult question, too many memorable activities, such as organizing MOP10 and MOP11! One thing I am thankful to the Secretariat is the freedom to explore things. I enjoy exploring different avenues and reaching out to new collaborators. One particular project that stands out of my mind at the moment is the Flyway Youth Forum. It all began in 2020, right around the time when COVID started. This experience really showcased how strong the partnership of EAAFP was and how far a collaborative action can bring us. As the work plan adopted in MOP10, we need to organize a youth forum, so I started reaching out to people for ideas. Chris Rostron from WWT introduced me to Youth Engage in Wetlands (YEW) from the Ramsar Convention, and later on the concept of the first-ever Flyway Youth Forum was developed. There were lots of challenges, especially during the Pandemic period and we got to adapt to new technologies. But, oh boy, there were quite a few challenges along the way. The pandemic made everything even more difficult, especially as we had to adapt to the online environment and learn about online technology. But after 6 months to prepare for the two-weekend activities, the outcomes of the Flyway Youth Forum were great and exceeded our expectations. We had over 130 participants and more than 80 young leaders, with many of our Partners and collaborators supporting and participating. We drew inspiration from the energy of the young people and their passion for doing things at a high standard, and we heard their desire to engage more in conservation and need for capacity building. After the Flyway Youth Forum, we learned that East-Atlantic Flyway Youth Forum was established too. Now, we're even dreaming of a joint Flyway Youth Forum encompassing the entire world's flyways. It's still a dream, but it's great that we've initiated this conversation. Following the Flyway Youth Forum, we launched the Youth Think Tank Competition, which led to more conservation actions by youth. And wonderful things were these endeavors continued to foster discussions with our Partners, culminating in the development of a decision paper “Youth Mainstreaming in Flyway”, including establishing a Youth Task Force. All of these experiences have been incredibly valuable for me. It has been an exciting journey for me to witness within EAAFP, that the immense energy and strong bonds we can forge with our Partners while empowering one another along the way. Question: Reversely, throughout your work, what big challenges do you have in the role of Communication Officer and what lessons did these challenges teach you? Answer: One of the challenges I often face is having so many things I want to accomplish with my colleagues and Partners, but also recognizing the limited capacity of myself and the secretariat as well. However, despite the challenges, we have managed to navigate through the past few years, and luckily we have wonderful Partners to support. I've come to realize that even though our capacity may be limited at difficult times, it's crucial to learn to reach out for help. When we make that call, people are responsive and extend their helping hands. This spirit of collaboration and support is an essential aspect of EAAFP, that we are built on partnerships, understanding that no single country or organization can accomplish everything alone. Cooperation is key. And we work collectively towards achieving our common mission and vision: to conserve migratory waterbirds in our Flyway. Question: Let’s move to your life in Korea. Ever since you came to Korea, what were your most impressive experiences in Korea? Answer: I can't pinpoint a single experience that stands out. However, collectively, the friendships I have formed during my time in Korea, either at work or outside the office, are incredibly valuable to me. During my work at the Secretariat, we often have meetings with people. When we meet face to face, I feel a genuine connection, we shared common interests, particularly in bird conservation. It's during these interactions that we discuss challenges, dreams, and aspirations, that we offer support to one another, fostering a sense of camaraderie. As a birdwatcher, of course, an enjoyment was birdwatching in Korea. I love exploring various bird-watching sites in Korea, and seeing birds that would pass through my hometown in Hong Kong gave me a stronger feeling that we are all connected in the flyway. Being at the site allows me to learn the reality at the site level as well. It's amazing how I came across people who share the same passion for birdwatching, and from there, we become friends and embark on bird-watching adventures together. The joy of sharing bird information and going on these excursions is truly priceless. Question: Since you are leaving, what is your hope for the EAAFP and the Secretariat? Answer: In a conceptual sense, what I truly value is fostering strong bonds and connectivity among people. It's a strength that I believe lies within EAAFP. Maintaining this unique connection among Partners and different sectors is incredibly important. During the MOPs, I witness the government officials engaging in friendly conversations and laughter with representatives from other organizations, scientists, and site managers. This kind of atmosphere is something worth preserving and enhancing. Furthermore, I hope to see an active and expanding network of flourishing sites within EAAFP, and there will be more active Flyway Network Sites, and Sister Sites to be established.  Additionally, I aspire to see more young people actively participating in EAAFP in the future. I believe all these are achievable goals. Question: Lastly, do you have any messages to your colleagues? Answer: There are two types of acknowledgment, Firstly, for my colleagues at the Secretariat, I am truly grateful for all my colleagues, not only the staff but also our interns who have made my time in Korea truly wonderful. They meant so much to me for we had gone through ups and downs together. Over the past four years, despite being a foreigner and sometimes the only foreigner in the office, I have never felt discriminated against. They have made me feel at home here, taken good care of me as well as invited and shared information about fun activities, sometimes even family gatherings and events. I couldn’t thank them more. The teamwork I experienced in the office is exceptional and our colleagues are professional. I have learned so much from them. Our lovely interns bring a joyful spirit, they are always helpful and I genuinely enjoy spending time with them. I would encourage my colleagues, despite that we all have our limitations, if you have a passion or a dream to try something, you can pursue it and help will come along with the will. Moving on to colleagues of our Partners, Working Groups & Task Forces, and other collaborators, they are all amazing individuals. My gratitude for all their support and for answering our call for help all the time. Working with them has been an enjoyable experience. They are all remarkable people with big hearts and lofty dreams in conservation. Being alongside them, I feel a sense of empowerment, knowing that we can make a difference together. I believe that we will meet again in the future! I am sure they would extend their support to the new staff at the Secretariat. The Secretariat created a message board for Vivian. If you have any message for her, please leave it here: https://www.kudoboard.com/boards/6aZiqawx        


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  • EAAFP welcomes new Programme Officer: Kyle Esperanza Zuleta

    @ Kyle Esperanza Zuleta The East-Asian Australasian Flyway Partnership is thrilled to welcome Kyle Esperanza Zuleta as its newly appointed Programme Officer. With an impressive background in environmental science and a decade of experience in national and regional cooperation focused on biodiversity and nature conservation, Kyle brings a wealth of expertise to the organization. Her extensive involvement in projects related to wetlands, migratory waterbirds, and coastal and marine environments makes her a valuable addition to the team. During her previous tenure as a Programme Officer at the ACB, Kyle has been instrumental in supporting ASEAN Member States in strengthening regional cooperation for the conservation of wetlands and migratory waterbirds through the ASEAN Flyway Network. She has played a vital role in the development and implementation of various ASEAN cooperation projects. Kyle's exceptional organizational skills and meticulous attention to detail have been key to their successful execution. Kyle's passion for conservation is evident. She has coordinated and facilitated efforts to improve biodiversity conservation within the ASEAN region. Moreover, her collaboration with ASEAN Member States has been vital in coastal and marine-related projects, fostering partnerships, and ensuring the successful implementation of recommended conservation actions. She has also actively participated in international meetings and engagements, including the Thirteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals and our Eleventh Meeting of Partners. These engagements have broadened her perspective and allowed her to bring global best practices and insights to her work. With her extensive project development skills, Kyle contributes valuable expertise to the EAAFP.  She has been involved in the formulation of policy guidelines and frameworks on biodiversity at different levels, including global, regional, national, and subnational. Her ability to consolidate relevant information and develop concept papers and project proposals has been crucial in supporting EAAFP’s mandate including meeting the needs of ASEAN Member States who are our valued Partners. Besides holding a bachelor’s degree in biology with a concentration in Environmental Science, she has also pursued various training programs to enhance her skills and knowledge. These include courses in GIS, results-based monitoring, and evaluation, as well as pollution control. Her appointment as Programme Officer at the EAAFP is an opportunity to continue to grow and she will undoubtedly contribute to the continued success of the EAAFP's initiatives. Her experiences have made her well-equipped to communicate and work effectively with a variety of stakeholders. The EAAFP eagerly looks forward to the positive impact Kyle will make as she takes on her new role and continues to champion the cause of the protection of migratory waterbirds and their habitats.


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  • Farewell to Nlicia Lara, Programme Assistant

    In the words of Nlicia Lara, "Coming in as an intern to the EAAFP, I thought what I would learn would be more of administrative practices or be in a rigid, stiff environment. What I found instead was a group of warm, smiling people, invested in the preservation of migratory waterbirds and their habitats. Truly passionate about the work they do, it was an inspiring experience for me to have people working with such unity toward one worthy cause. As a person, I have always yearned for mentorship from people who did what I consider to be meaningful work. I have a great passion for causing positive change and for making a positive impact in the world. The environment of the EAAFP Secretariat is one of inspiring and spurring change and for making steps towards continued and sustainable change regarding the protection of these precious birds, their habitat, and the livelihood of those who depend on them. Participating in the BFS Banding Activity at BFS Islands in Namdong Reservoir ©EAAFP Secretariat As a Programme Assistant, I was able to see the importance of dialogue and engagement. When I was able to attend various events and activities with a variety of stakeholders, it showed me how important it is to have multilevel engagement. If we are as a society to sustainably develop, to continue to progress it cannot come at the cost of the environment and that includes biodiversity. As an intern, I was given opportunities to attend meetings and to listen to high-level dialogue which gave me insight and shaped my perspective on the role biodiversity plays in areas such as climate change mitigation. One of the most memorable events I attended was IUCN Leaders Forum 2022 held in Jeju. Preparing for that trip was quite a challenge as I had never led a trip logistically before but with the support of our Programme Officer, we were able to have a successful trip, hosting and attending side events and being able to hear about the initiatives of so many who have dedicated their lives to conservation and to the Green Revolution. I must make a special mention at this point of our Programme Officer Hyeseon Do. She was pivotal in the personal development that I experienced here as an intern. She has taught me what standards are expected from the staff at an international organization and how to maintain excellence in the way I complete tasks. She has shaped my thinking and helped me to develop a systematic and thorough work style. More than anything she allowed me to explore and to try many tasks I had never had a chance to do before and as such I left the EAAFP with the confidence to be able to tackle anything I may face in my future. Hyeseon and I (picture 1), The EAAFP Team, and Marco Lambertini WWF International Director, ©EAAFP Secretariat One of the most important things I learned while doing my internship is the importance of local community engagement. During my time I was able to coordinate and participate in events geared towards raising awareness of the importance of migratory birds and how critical it is to protect their habitats. It was so encouraging to see how members of local communities are incorporating events centered around conservation as part of a kind of ESG policy or practice. I was especially encouraged when I attended the Gochang Big Bird Race and realized that the entire community had organized this event and it had support from stakeholders at multiple levels that participated and showed their support. In fact, I have found it so inspiring that I intend to pursue (possibly) a Master's in ESG Management and Sustainable Development in the future. As an intern at the EAAFP, it has helped me to conclude that if biodiversity conservation and even climate change mitigation initiatives are to be successful then many tiered approaches and grassroots community-based support are extremely crucial. This coupled with the engagement of corporate entities will be essential in the future. The EAAFP team at our booth at the Gochang Getbol Big Bird Race ©EAAFP Secretariat Another thing that really stood out to me during my internship was the increasing focus on youth. Communication, Education, and Public Awareness (CEPA) activities, one of the EAAFP Secretariat’s main objectives, serves to encourage young people to see the importance of the nature around them and for them to see themselves as part of nature, not a spectator to it. I remember attending the Black-faced Spoonbill Birthday Party, where the EAAFP had a booth, and being amazed at how many children and young people attended. They were so enthusiastic and interested in all the activities. It is very encouraging, especially when you know the administrative side of the work done at the Secretariat, to be able to see what all the dialogue and agreements serve. To be amongst the local people and to see one of our key species thriving on BFS islands was one of the greatest forms of motivation I have ever experienced in my life. The EAAFP team with the BFS mascot after the BFS Birthday party at Namdong Reservoir ©EAAFP Secretariat At the Gochang seaside ©EAAFP Secretariat As I look to my future, I am filled with so much gratitude. I want to extend my thanks to my colleagues, both the Programme Team and the Secretariat staff that not only aided my professional development but showed me such kindness and care as my team members. The atmosphere at the office made it easy to get up every day and work for such a worthy cause. I believe with the skill set I have gained and polished during my time at the EAAFP I will be a capable asset to any other organization. At this moment I am not quite sure where my path will take me, but I do know that my experiences here at the EAAFP Secretariat will shape and color the rest of my life."


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  • Farewell Interview with Hyeseon Do, Senior Programme Officer of EAAFP Secretariat

    “I have truly fallen in love”: Hyeseon Reflects on Her Years of Experience at the EAAFP @EAAFP Secretariat Introduction Hyeseon Do recently departed from her role as Senior Programme Officer at EAAFP Secretariat. Hyeseon has been an integral part of the organization for the past six years, dedicating her time and expertise to furthering the mission of the EAAFP. As part of her farewell, this interview gave her an opportunity to share her unique perspective and insights gained during her extensive tenure with the EAAFP. As she bids farewell to her colleagues and moves on to new endeavors, we recognize the invaluable contributions she has made to the EAAFP's work in promoting the conservation of migratory waterbirds and their habitats along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF). It also serves as a moment to celebrate her achievements and acknowledge the impact she has had on the organization's initiatives. Her dedication, professionalism, and passion for environmental conservation have been evident throughout her time with the EAAFP. We extend our best wishes to Hyeseon as she embarks on new endeavors, confident that her knowledge and experience will continue to drive positive change in the field of conservation. We are grateful that she has reflected on her journey, and shared her valuable insights to hopefully inspire others to take up the cause of protecting our precious waterbirds, their homes, and the livelihoods of those who depend on them. @EAAFP Secretariat Question: What was the motivation that brought you to the EAAFP Secretariat? Hyeseon: I started working at the EAAFP Secretariat as a Programme and Communication intern almost 10 years ago. I think that's how I started my life together with the EAAFP. My motivation came certainly from the people I had met, their inspiration, and migratory waterbirds (It was the first in my life to see through a scope! Like other most interns here.) during that internship period. That was amazing, to meet many conserving needs, our Partners and then the staff members who have been really motivated by Nature and a joint goal. I've never met such passionate people about their work and then for something most people probably don't focus on. So that was certainly a trigger for me to learn and then a rechanneling of my career and life path. Before I re-joined the Secretariat, I majored in international law in China and then I worked for the NGOs, a UN agency, an embassy, and then a law firm. My background is very diverse, and I was still very ambitious and hesitant to pick the best one I could pursue for the rest of my life based on my knowledge and experience and full of curiosities  But as soon as I really met the devoted people here, I found that probably this is the kind of destiny that would make me work a lot meaningfully (or workaholic!) with a strong justification. Question: You mentioned that you were an intern at the EAAFP Secretariat 10 years ago. Do you see any parallels between your experience as an intern and your experience that came afterward as a Programme Officer? Do you think your experience helped you? Hyeseon: Yes indeed. The experience I had before being a Programme Officer having already had almost 15 years of experience in diverse environments including the school life in China had a great impact. The unique thing or character I probably would’ve brought to the Secretariat and to the Partnership was a little bit of a different sense of having work experience in a different way from the conservation field. So, I tried to bring the knowledge e.g. formulating a capacity building program and training internally and with the externals (including youth, and governments), diplomatic skills, strategic coordination skills, and administration management skills. All these experiences certainly helped a lot to shape my work stream, and workstyle and to make the Secretariat system settle in more effectively and efficiently. @EAAFP Secretariat Question: What big challenges did you face in your role as Programme Officer and what lessons did these challenges teach you? Hyeseon: Yes, the biggest challenge was I was not a keen birdwatcher, I didn’t know the names, and still the most difficult part! I've been thinking about this question a lot and of course, there are so many things beyond the specific challenges at work I have faced. But if I had to not consider only my challenges here but what the EAAFP is facing collectively it still would be the challenge of how to convince a wider group of people, how to strategically tell our story and mission to the people so that they are emotionally invested and being a supporter. We deal with a variety of stakeholders so effective storytelling taking that into account, to prompt their thoughts about the importance of biodiversity conservation or the importance of the migratory waterbird habitat was the biggest challenge. To address this, with the collaboration with my team and colleagues, I've been very focused on how our EAAFP can be branded globally and domestically and then how we can tell a compelling appealing story to anyone not only for our Partners, but for diplomats, mayors, private sectors, media, site managers, civil societies, and general public. So, I made a storyboard myself that targets different groups of people and considers what I need to tell this group or the other group in their languages. I trusted the person motivated will whisper our stories to their family, friends, and colleagues. @EAAFP Secretariat Question: Thank you for your answers. What is your message to your colleagues? Hyeseon: A message your work is contributing even though you can’t see the result right away and makes your work and time meaningful! One day the scattered dots will all be connected. Our work is invisible sometimes and then people also don't know. So, we personally need to be truly motivated, and we must be goal-oriented otherwise we can’t tell the real message we wanted. If we are not convinced by nature or by our mission our story that we cannot convince others.  I highly recommend that everyone really tries to have that mindset and for everyone to really chase opportunities and hope for all of us. It’s been almost 10 years journeying with EAAFP Secretariat and still many former interns and colleagues said EAAFP Secretariat has a unique and amazing atmosphere which can’t be found in other organizations and miss about. We were special and will be! Please continue and then remember the precious moments you have in love and how we formed synergy together. That is all that’s needed. That’s my feeling and it's continued even now. @EAAFP Secretariat Question: I think working here it seems that you really have hopes for us and hopes for us to continue and for the entire organization as an entity not necessarily just as staff. What do you hope for? What is your hope for the EAAFP and the Secretariat? Hyeseon: There's a big hope! As everyone knows, the Partnership is growing and expanding, and it means that now there is greater awareness of how crucial nature is for all people. These days the biodiversity agenda is really on top of everything globally, especially when we talk about climate change. We shouldn’t miss this timing, we need to collaborate and cooperate more to synergize it and then make our agenda up front at site, regional and national levels (wherever you are and whatever you can) more than any agenda. Just emphasize that the nature and migratory waterbirds that surround you are there and that we really need to protect together (and that's the aim of our Flyway Partnership) as an indicator of the climate crisis and that we have been not just only working with the government Partner, but we work with other diverse Partners and collaborators, including the ground site level as well. The Partnership story is real, and we are not selfishly fighting for ourselves, for all of us including your family. That is my hope. Question: All right so now we're going to ask some personal questions only for you. Working at the EAAFP you might already have a lot of memorable moments, but can you share with us one of your most memorable moments you had while working at the EAAFP? Hyeseon: That's difficult to pick one of the memorable moments. Of course, I was really pleased to meet all of the Partners and supporters at the 11th Meeting of Partners in Brisbane early this year, we’ve collectively made many important decisions, danced, sang, laughed, and hugged - and were happy about being gathered again after the COVID pandemic. Another memorable moment I can think of - like for example EAAFP was part of the World Natural Heritage Site nomination for the Yellow Sea tidal flats (important habitats for migratory waterbirds) and because of that, I visited the different sites in Yellow Sea, and I met lots of the stakeholders including from countries, local government, experts and local communities, to understand the issues, conflicts, impacts, and concerns. I was just very honored to be a part of the journey of making the inscription happen eventually. The momentum that the Partnership really made is to see the support from the UNESCO member countries to agree to announce to the world that they encourage to protect these identified habitats for the Heritage in the Flyway as a top priority at the UNESCO committee meeting.  At the moment, I also couldn’t stop crying and smiling as I knew how our Partners desperately wanted to protect these areas. My dream came true partially. I was really honored to be the presenter on behalf of the EAAFP to say that we are really pleased about the commitment and hope that following this example, other countries can step up together to really protect these habitats in every way they can for our Flyway and their Flyway. Subsequent follow-up measures and conversations are continuing until now. People talk more about Flyway everywhere. @EAAFP Secretariat Question So the job that you had, you got to the rank of Senior Programme Officer because you've been here a long time. When you're in a position for a long time sometimes your motivation can ebb and flow. Sometimes you're really motivated and sometimes the work seems difficult. How did you personally maintain your motivation to keep going with the job? Hyeseon: To be honest I think of course there were moments that I was discouraged, for example, if somebody isn’t committed after we put a lot of effort change their mind. In those moments I tried to meet the local people or visit the site because in any case, our ultimate goal is to give a benefit to their livelihood at the local level.  As I was very new to the conservation field and flyway work when I joined the Secretariat, I had to put triple the effort than others to understand the dynamic and identify real impact at the local level and on Partnership. I didn’t want to ruin what people had built on, so didn’t mind approaching any people who will help me to have up-close lessons and experiences. Our Partners and supporters were always approachable and answered very patiently and kindly whenever I inquired (even though those are very easy ones). Looking back, my energy and motivation were from the people the most including our team members, colleagues, and flyway friends.  Of course, sometimes I go bird watching or do local activities as well to really feel what we are doing the work for. Namdong Reservoir (located in Incheon, surrounded by industrial zones and an urban reclaimed city), Black-faced Spoonbill breeding habitat, was one of my favorite places I can breathe and seek a solution when I felt stuck.   Question: I see. So, you're leaving very soon. What is your plan after leaving the Secretariat? Anything you're particularly excited about? Hyeseon: Sorry - I'm so excited about all! I definitely have mixed feelings as I leave you and all. Even though I won’t be a part of the Secretariat, the memory I really have had here with all of you is so memorable that I think whatever I do, I think that I will be trying to find a way to re-contribute the work of the Flyway.  In the long term, my plan is to continue working in the conservation field and find ways to contribute in different ways. I want to join volunteering activities as a tour guide/site manager/educator/interpreter/birdwatcher at sites to understand the challenges and needs of local people and travel the natural sites around the world.  Additionally, I'm interested in corporate engagement and how to incorporate the biodiversity agenda into their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) actions and strategies. So, I am taking a self-sabbatical with my new binoculars – I will be around, so don‘t be surprised if I show up in your country and event. Question: We now have a great idea as to what your experience has been here. But if you could sum up your feelings as you're leaving into one word or one phrase, what would it be? Hyeseon: Currently, I find it difficult to express my emotions precisely. However, I must admit that I no longer feel sadness because I have come to realize that no matter where I go, I will always be a part of the conservation work. This realization brings me a sense of gratitude and blessing, especially considering the remarkable individuals I have had the privilege of meeting and working with across the globe. Witnessing the shared passion and dedication of hundreds of people is a sight I had never before encountered. EAAFP was a truly special atmosphere and one that we should strive to preserve. Through these encounters, I have forged connections and friendships that span the entire world. This realization not only fills me with a deep sense of gratitude but also ignites an ever-growing love for the work we do and the mission we pursue. In all honesty, I believe I have truly fallen in love with the field of conservation. @EAAFP Secretariat The Secretariat created a message board for Hyeseon. If you have any message to her, please leave it here: https://www.kudoboard.com/boards/GbD0L90E


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  • The First Mangrove CEPA International Symposium in Shenzhen, China committed stronger cooperation and support to CEPA for wetland.

    © Young Pai On the morning of July 6, the First Mangrove CEPA International Symposium in China, also the CEPA Sub-forum on Wetland Education for 2023 China Nature Education Conference was held in Futian, Shenzhen, where new cooperation on wetland education and commitment to promoting CEPA on wetland conservation were confirmed. The symposium was supervised by the Wetland Management Department of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration, the Chinese Society of Forestry, the Forestry Administration of Guangdong Province, and the Shenzhen Municipal Planning and Natural Resources Bureau, hosted by Futian District Government and organized by Water Authority of Futian District, the Education Bureau of Futian District, Futian Mangrove Center and Mangrove Foundation (MCF). Ms. Jennifer George, Chief Executive of the  EAAFP Secretariat, was invited to give a recorded remark at the opening ceremony. The Chinese Society of Forestry and the Government of Futian District jointly signed a Memorandum of Cooperation on Wetland Education at the meeting. The symposium was also determined that the CEPA International Symposium will be held annually in Futian District as a regular sub-forum of the China Nature Education Conference. Jennifer George, Chief Executive of  EAAFP delivered opening remarks © Mangrove Foundation The first 16 "Mangrove Wetland Education Promotion Ambassadors" and 8 "Mangrove Wetland Education Partners" (Vanke Foundation, Ming Foundation, Aleshan Foundation, Zero Waste Society, Shenzhen Birding Society, Blue Ocean Environment Protection Society, Friends of Park Centre, MCF )(please add their organization names?) were announced at the conference. They came from the education, enterprises, media, arts, and culture sectors, and local environmental NGOs. The keynote speeches of the conference focused on the development of wetland education and invited experts, scholars, and practitioners from domestic and international wetland reserves and professional organizations to discuss the outreach and routes of wetland conservation and public awareness. Representatives including Mr. Connor Walsh, International Engagement Officer of Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Ms. Yang Shufen, Director of  Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve of Singapore, Yamme Leung, Director, Education, of WWF (HK) shared cases of international excellent wetland education centers. In the afternoon session, interactive discussions in parallel sub-forums were carried out around four modules: wetland education and formal education, public communication capacity for Spoon-billed Sandpiper conservation, citizen science for wetland conservation, and social participation for wetland conservation.   Read more (in Chinese): 【视频】首届中国红树林湿地教育CEPA国际研讨会在深圳福田举办_腾讯新闻 (qq.com) 专家齐聚福田!直击首届中国红树林湿地教育盛会现场_腾讯新闻 (qq.com) 绿美广东丨支持国际红树林中心建设 中国湿地教育CEPA国际研讨会落户深圳福田|广东省|深圳市|福田区|湿地公约|生态系统|生物多样性_网易订阅 (163.com) 首批红树林湿地教育共建单位在深揭晓_深圳新闻网 (sznews.com)  


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  • The second “Birds and Schools” in EAAF brings primary school students from Incheon and Hong Kong together

    The second “Birds and Schools” event was held on 30th June, 2023, 30 primary school students from Incheon, Republic of Korea and Hong Kong, China, participated. The event was co-organized by Black-faced Spoonbill Eco Centre in Incheon and Hong Kong Wetland Park and the EAAFP Secretariat. The event is part of the CEPA programme under the Incheon-Hong Kong Sister Site Programme. The event was kicked off by a warm-up activity led by Vivian Fu, Senior Communication Officer of EAAFP Secretariat and an introduction about EAAFP. The Korean students taught students in Hong Kong the pronunciation of Black-faced Spoonbill in Korean, and vice versa. After that, Ms. Catherine Lam from Hong Kong Wetland Park introduced the “Hong Kong Wetland Park School Partnership Programme” which the students joined, and Ms. Mi-eun Kim from Black-faced Spoonbill Eco Centre introduced the organization, with moderation by Communication Assistant, Andy Lee. Primary school students from Incheon participated in the event © EAAFP Secretariat The main session of the event was the presentations by students who came from 6 primary schools: Chiu Yang Por Yen Primary School, Christian Pui Yan Primary School and YLPMS Alumni Association Tang Ying Yip Primary School from Hong Kong; Incheon Eunsong Elementary School, Incheon Dongmak Elementary School and Black-faced Spoonbill Eco Center Youth & Family Club from Incheon. The students introduced Black-faced Spoonbill along with other bird species found in the wetlands to each other, and shared the activities they carried out at the wetlands and what they learned and felt after the activities. Presentations by students from Hong Kong © Hong Kong Wetland Park   Presentations by students from Incheon © EAAFP Secretariat After the presentations, Ejin Kim, Communication Assistant of EAAFP Secretariat led an interactive True-or-False game for students to show their understanding of what they learned from the presentations. The students enjoyed the game. The event concluded with certificates presented to the students who participated and made the presentations. An interactive True-or-False game © EAAFP Secretariat Incheon students listening to the presentation from Hong Kong © EAAFP Secretariat Student participants receiving the certificates © Hong Kong Wetland Park Student participants receiving the certificates © EAAFP Secretariat “Birds and Schools” was initiated from the Wetland Link International (WLI), in which both Hong Kong Wetland Park and EAAFP are members of WLI – Asia – Oceania. Learn more: https://wli.wwt.org.uk/resources/priority-theme-resources/migratory-birds/birds-and-schools/  


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  • WWT’s launch of Foundation Course in Wetland Health and Vitality

    EAAFP Partner, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), is pleased to announce the launch of the first Foundation Course in Wetland Health and Vitality, part of our developing Wetland Learning Hub. The online learning platform is aimed at early career professionals or those that want to develop their understanding of wetland conservation. The Team is looking for 50 wetland people to help us test this pilot. See https://wetlandlearninghub.org/ for the website and how to apply, deadline: end of July 2023. The pilot course is free this year and will run over October and November 2023. Thanks to all their partners that have helped in creating this resource. Website: wetlandlearninghub.org E-mail: [email protected]


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