Jason Loghry, March 1, 2013
As part of Birds Korea’s continued effort to improve public awareness of conservation issues in the ROK, a special lecture was presented at three different community centres in Busan on four occasions this month, with audiences of up to 40 members. These lectures were organised by Ms. Cheon Hyeonae, and presented by our National Coordinator, Ms. Park Meena, with our Director, Dr. Nial Moores. The presentations were shared in both Korean and English languages.
The lecture, “Of Birds, People, and Our Future”, focuses on sustainability and how the work of Birds Korea is not only dedicated to birds, but more importantly promoting and delivering best practice of sustainable development, based on the UN Millennium Development Goals.
With this presentation, the audience was encouraged to think deeply about how habitat is changing, how these changes are affecting the world locally and globally, and what these changes could mean for future generations. Looking to the past, the differences of living just 50 years ago in Korea are significant, and as images of a rural landscape were shared, many members of the audience, including myself, began to reflect. My experience of being on the tidal-flat looking at Spoon-billed Sandpipers and knowing there are so few of them in the world now, I couldn’t help but get emotional. I thought about how I felt then, standing there alone with them in the mud, just hoping somehow those actual birds I was looking at would survive. I hope they have. It’s a tragedy what is happening to tidal flats, especially since there is so much that is still salvageable, yet so few of us are aware.
Historically, birds play a deep role within Korean culture. As we examined paintings of of a well-known and popular species in Korea, the Red-crowned Crane, audience members were asked why these Cranes are so often painted with pine trees. What could be the meaning behind this relationship, and how could it be related to humanity and prosperity? We listened to the classic folk song, “Ddumbugi”, which in Korean means Watercock. This is a species which was possibly once abundant and well-known by local villagers (including many of those in our audiences), yet now also in decline and seldom seen. The story of the Watercock is just one of many declining species in the region due to habitat fragmentation. These alarming declines are challenges that beckon a desperate call for us, as citizens of the world, to think deeply and honestly about our choices and how we can be positive change, easily. I have made my home here in Korea, but this winter I spent a month travelling around my home state of Texas, went up to New York and I even visited Louisiana. It was heavy, in a mind-numbing kind of way. I recognized that everywhere I go, here and in the USA, habitat is being lost or degraded.
This is motivation to do something.
The lecture ended with a discussion of work on Spoon-billed Sandpiper and asking what kind of world do we want for future generations and our children to live in? This included a more positive message on what we are doing and what we also need more support for. Birds Korea is working together with Hong Kong Birdwatching Society and the help of volunteers, teachers, and most importantly children from seven other countries to produce an animation of Spoon-billed Sandpiper, with the hope of bringing global awareness and support to this critically endangered species.
The connections between all species, birds and humanity, are inseparable. To better understand and achieve sustainability, we must first recognise these connections. With these lectures, what we want is to encourage dialogue about these connections, empower each other to seek out honest and best practice, and be the change that we all want to see. There are many things we can do to help, and fortunately framework is in place. With numerous education programs, awareness campaigns, and research projects, there are many ways you can join us. Unfortunately, costs to do this work can be high. Therefore, if we have more funds we can do much more. Please join us a member and contribute to conservation.
Visit our website and find out how you too can be a Birds Korean:
If you would like to attend a future presentation, host a Birds Korea lecture, or even become a Bird Korea volunteer, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!