Republic of Korea: Yeongjong Tidal Flat Bird Monitoring Reveals High Conservation Value

The comprehensive bird monitoring conducted at Yeongjong Tidal Flat in Incheon, Ro Korea, in 2022, led by a team of dedicated citizen scientists and local NGOs (Green Korea Incheon and Waterbird Network Korea) has yielded scientific insights into the ecological significance of this habitat. The survey findings provide substantial evidence supporting the potential listing of Yeongjong Tidal Flat as a World Natural Heritage site proved to be a globally significant habitat for endangered bird species.

© Yeongjong Tidal Flat Monitoring Team

Over 16 surveys spanning April to November 2022, the team investigated the population dynamics and migratory patterns of seven endangered bird species. The survey locations included Yaedanpo Port, Midan City, Songsan Reservoir, Hongdae Salt Field, and Incheon Bridge.

© Yeongjong Tidal Flat Monitoring Team

The observations revealed a total count of 14,518 individuals across the seven targeted species. The birds exhibited dynamic site selection, utilizing survey points as strategic feeding and resting sites aligned with tidal patterns. Notably, during high tides, the Songsan Reservoir and dormant Hongdae Salt Field emerged as significant resting sites.

© Yeongjong Tidal Flat Monitoring Team

Of particular importance is the presence of the Far Eastern Curlew, a migratory bird covering vast distances between Siberia and Southeast Australasia. Yeongjong Tidal Flat was found to host approximately 18% of the estimated global population (35,000 individuals) of this species, according to Wetland International.

Far Eastern Curlews (left) and Black-faced Spoonbills (right) © Yeongjong Tidal Flat Monitoring Team

Furthermore, Yeongjong Tidal Flat supports approximately 10% of the maximum breeding population of the Black-faced Spoonbill, which over 80% of its global population breeds in Incheon.

Eurasian Oystercatcher (left) and its eggs (right) © Yeongjong Tidal Flat Monitoring Team

The Eurasian Oystercatchers, predominantly nesting near the First Dredge Dumping Grounds, also exhibited substantial breeding activity, though some nests faced challenges with egg disappearance or damage. The presence of campers utilizing interior spaces of the First Dredge Dumping Grounds during the breeding season poses an additional threat to the successful reproduction of Eurasian Oystercatchers.

© Yeongjong Tidal Flat Monitoring Team

Situated within the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF), Yeongjong Tidal Flat serves as a vital resting and feeding ground for internationally protected bird species. Consequently, urgent conservation efforts are necessary to secure its inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage list during the 48th session of the committee in 2026. The designation of Yeongjong Tidal Flat as a protected wetland area and recognition as a World Natural Heritage site would ensure the preservation of its ecological significance.

© Yeongjong Tidal Flat Monitoring Team

In addition to birds recorded, the team also found the Milky Fiddler Crab at the site which is a Nationally Endangered Species (Category II).

Milky Fiddler Crab © Ju Hyeok Lee/EAAFP Secretariat

The recent inauguration ceremony for the second batch of the Yeongjong Tidal Flat Bird Monitoring Team signifies ongoing efforts in monitoring avian populations within this unique ecosystem. A conference focused on Yeongjong Tidal Flat conservation, based on the survey results, is planned for the end of the year, facilitating collaboration among stakeholders.

© Yeongjong Tidal Flat Monitoring Team

The results of the Yeongjong Tidal Flat bird monitoring project provide scientific evidence of its high conservation value. Listing Yeongjong Tidal Flat as a World Natural Heritage site would ensure appropriate protection and conservation measures for the endangered bird species that rely on this habitat. The dedication of the monitoring team, citizen scientists, and stakeholders involved in preserving Yeongjong Tidal Flat will play a pivotal role in securing a sustainable future for this important ecosystem and its avian inhabitants.

Read the report (in Korean) here.

Article prepared by Yeongjong Tidal Flat Monitoring Team.






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