Bedfordshire welcomes South Korean environment experts to help conserve east coast wetlands

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Government representatives from the Republic of Korea were this week welcomed to Bedfordshire as part of an official visit, as a new agreement was signed to help conserve internationally important wetlands on England's east coast.

The delegation joined a meeting at the RSPB Headquarters in Sandy to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the RSPB, the UK’s largest conservation charity, laying out a commitment to work together to better protect, restore and raise awareness of Republic of Korea and English coastal wetlands.

Attendees for the official visit included five representatives from the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, the Korea Marine Environment Management Corporation and environmental NGO the Eco Horizon Institute. The event was also attended by representatives from the UK’s Marine Management Organisation, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

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The signing was part of a week-long programme of visits to sites along the English east coast wetlands, which were added to the UK's tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage Site status last year due to their international importance for migratory birds. This mirrors the similar Getbol, Korean Tidal Flats which were inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List in 2021, and which also provide vital habitats for rare migratory bird species, like the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper.

RSPB and Republic of Korea Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries sign a Memorandum of UnderstandingRSPB and Republic of Korea Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries sign a Memorandum of Understanding
RSPB and Republic of Korea Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries sign a Memorandum of Understanding

Mr Jae Young Shin, Director Marine Policy Office, Republic of Korea Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, said: “The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the RSPB is important as it will strengthen our collaboration and the sharing of knowledge. We are very pleased to be visiting the east coast of England to see the globally important wetlands and to learn more about their conservation and management for visitors.”

Jeff Kew from the RSPB, said: “It’s thrilling to welcome environmental experts and colleagues all the way from the Republic of Korea. Celebrating and committing to managing these amazing places on an international scale highlights just how important these places are for nature across the globe.”

The group joined staff at RSPB Frampton Marsh in Lincolnshire, RSPB Titchwell and Welney Wetland Centre in Norfolk and RSPB Minsmere in Suffolk throughout the week to learn more about wetland conservation on the east of England and the internationally important role of the habitats for migratory birds.

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England’s east coast wetlands, now on the road to achieving World Heritage status, span from the River Thames in the south to the Humber estuary in the north, forming a network of connected wetland habitats. This stretch of coastline, an area equivalent to two New York cities, is used by 155 different bird species, including huge swirling flocks of Knot which provide a stunning natural spectacle in autumn. This wildlife haven is a key part of the East Atlantic Flyway, one of eight global ‘superhighway’ routes used by migrating birds navigating the globe each year. The East Atlantic Flyway stretches from the Arctic to South Africa, connecting more than 70 countries, including the UK.

James Robinson, Chief Operating Officer at the RSPB, commented: “This signals the strength of bond that allows us to share knowledge and experience, especially as we strive to secure World Heritage Site status for the east coast wetlands. We will work closely to maximise the importance of our flyways and the wetland habitats that are so vital for our future.”

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