Sunny Yun, November 19, 2013
Sunny International Home School
“If each student picks one species of bird that occurs here in Korea, studies it and shares what they find with others, wouldn’t they start to care about and love these birds?”
This is Mr. Jason Loghry’s approach to his lesson for Sunny International Home School students in Busan. An active Birds Korea volunteer, Mr. Loghry, having already spent a long morning and afternoon of classes at his elementary school in Gimhae he made the trek into town and then to the south of Yongdo to share his experience and understanding with us.
In the same way we use language as a standard tool to express inner thoughts and emotions, make sense of complex and abstract notions, learn to communicate with others, fulfill our wants and needs, and establish rules and maintain our culture, researchers and conservationists also need a standard tool to navigate, evaluate and determine the conservation status of species in each region of the world. And one of these tools is the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Unfortunately, not many data exists about the majority of endangered bird species in Korea in terms of populations, or the conservation status of the Korean peninsula as an environment for such wildlife as birds. Even though many researchers and scientists globally use the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria to evaluate and determine the risk of extinction of plants and animals, many people in Korea do not know much about the Red Data List; most scientists and NGOs in Korea do not use these categories and criteria at all or as much as they should. Rather, they make and use their own self-set categories and criteria.
Therefore, when conservation issues such as the Four Rivers Project occur, and international support is badly needed to challenge such damaging anti-environmental construction, it has long been an issue that there is very little globally recognized scientific data following the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria to help make clear the nature of our critical conservation status in Korea.
However, Mr. Jason Loghry got to the point and introduced the IUCN Red List to my students. He started explaining about the IUCN, and what the IUCN Red List is for, and he talked about each category of the Red List along with species of birds in Korea under each category. Then, he invited students to choose a Korean bird at random, starting with the “Near Threatened” category, as according to the IUCN Red List. Each student chose their own bird and first found its English, Korean and scientific name. Using Birds Korea’s gallery site, they got to “meet” their birds, seeing a range of pictures of them. It was the correct methodology for taking the very first, small step along a path towards the possibility of a healthier future shared by birds and people in Korea alike.
I am very thrilled and honored that Mr. Loghry initiated this project with my students. They will some day soon realize and appreciate what a significant project they were introduced to and have taken on, if not already. Moreover, I hope and believe that their future will be very different from today, for the better and in a positive way, for the natural environment, and therefore the birds, and us too.
Finding out more about Near Threatened species found in Korea, Connor Harrison and Cho Gyae-Baek research Yellow-billed Loon and Falcated DuckUsing social media and online tools to research, connect, and share information about threatened species