Only 50 hectares or so in area, the Mokpo Namhang Urban Wetland is full of conservation potential. Located in the far southwest of the country within Mokpo City, and close to the Mokpo Natural History Museum, the wetland contains a very small, open estuary (labeled P1); impounded tidal areas (P2 and P3); and even a small reed-bed (P4). Already, the wetland is used for recreation and for environmental education, and near-daily bird survey has found a wide range of species. These include several leg-flagged shorebirds, breeding Little Ringed Charadrius dubius and Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus, and several species of special conservation concern (e.g. the globally Vulnerable Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes and Saunders's Gull Larus saundersi). Through visits by international experts (including the Head of BirdLife International in Asia), through symposia, through a shorebird photograph exhibition, through birdwatching events for children, through discussions with the Ramsar Secretariat and with BirdLife and Wetlands International (in July 2008), and through media interviews, the Mokpo Namhang Urban Wetland is receiving increased and well-deserved interest, both domestically and overseas. This interest is likely to increase even further in the coming months.
The hosting in Korea of the triennial Ramsar Convention conference (in Changwon City, between October 28th and November 4th) will help strengthen the national debate on wetland conservation; and the Ramsar Conference will for the first time propose a Resolution on the conservation of Urban Wetlands.
To this positive background, Birds Korea has initiated a project to establish “preliminary guidelines, processes and basic designs for the enhancement, restoration and ‘Wise Use’” of the Mokpo Namhang Urban Wetland, funded in the main by a small grant from the UNDP/GEF Yellow Sea Large Marine Ecosystem project. We are presently collaborating with a wide range of experts and stakeholders on this project, and a workshop (in Mokpo City Hall) and symposium (in Mokpo Natural History Museum) are both planned for September 10th. If you can, please join us!