WLI World September 2021
Issue 24 of WLI World: you can both download as PDF to print, or view story-by-story here. Open each story by tapping on its title.
Welcome to the WLI World Bulletin for September 2021. Once again we appear as a 1991 retro-style newsletter, to celebrate 30 years of WLI.
For some of you, the past season has been a busy one, with family and school visits enjoying your wetlands with gusto; for some, it has been the opposite. However this year is treating you, we hope are safe and healthy.
We know that for some, participating in a network like WLI is hard in these circumstances. Be assured that we will still be here for you when you need best practice resources for your wetland communication, education, participation, and awareness.
On that note, the WLI team is growing! WWT has assigned some time for WLI members with interpretation design expert Anna Wilson. Learn more about Anna and how she can help you in this edition.
We are also creating a new way of communicating with you: WLI webinars. WLI Asia and Americas have both held webinars in the past. Now we will aim to hold webinars in the time between these WLI World newsletters. This year, our webinars in English, French, and Spanish will celebrate our 30th year: we will unveil an artwork you can use, that we have commissioned from artist Seppo. Tune in for that and a sneak-peak about the WLI Asia Wetland Centre Festival and progress we've made on planning the wetland centre accreditation scheme.
Also for our 30th anniversary, we are still collecting your 30 Ideas, the simple techniques and approaches that can help make wetland education work. We would love you to browse the collection on the website and send in your own neat ideas.
As always, keep in touch! Send us your news and resources that you would like other WLI members to see. Most of all, stay safe and healthy!
WLI Americas produced webinars from 2013 to 2017. Now we are reinstating WLI webinars, as an integrated part of how we communicate within WLI. With this newsletter appearing every six months, we aim to present webinars in the time between editions of WLI World.
Informed by the last WLI member survey, from 2020, we will run webinars with two-way communication so that we can hear your news and inputs.
To be as accessible and fair as possible, we will present approximately the same information but on three separate occasions. Once in English, at 07.00 UTC to suit from the western Pacific to the East Atlantic; in French at a time to suit Africa and Europe; and in Spanish to suit the Americas and Europe.
We invite your input, especially with case studies and images that you can share during the webinars.
English October 26 October, 07.00 UTC
French Tuesday 23 November, 14.00 UTC
Spanish Tuesday 16 November, 16.00 UTC
Register in advance on the WLI website WLI.org.uk
This year's webinar will celebrate 30 years of WLI.
To celebrate, we have commissioned an artwork about wetland educators and visitor centres. The artist, Seppo, will unveil the image and we will look at how you can use it digitally and physically to help your visitors smile and learn. We will also reveal the progress we have made towards a wetland visitor centre accreditation scheme, as mentioned in the last edition.
We celebrate World Wetlands Day on 2nd February every year. From next year on, the date and name will stay the same but the day will be officially observed as the UN World Wetlands Day.
Up until now, World Wetlands Day was an event promoted by the Ramsar Convention, which is outside the UN system.
In August this year, Costa Rica proposed to the United Nations General Assembly that the UN should also celebrate World Wetlands Day, and on 2 February. Costa Rica is also an active Party to the Ramsar convention.
Why do we celebrate World Wetlands Day on 2 February? Because that is the date when conservationists gathered in the Iranian city of Ramsar to sign the Convention in 1971. In this, its fiftieth year, the Convention has received this honour and recognition. Congratulations Ramsar, and congratulations all who celebrate World Wetlands Day!
In view of the current health protocols due to the COVID19 pandemic, the 8th WLI-Asia Conference will be held in two parts: Part 1 is the virtual Wetland Centre Festival to be held in November, as an activity to drum up interest and support for the subsequent face-to-face session; Part 2 is the actual face-to-face Conference which will be held in February or March 2022.
The theme of the Conference is “Healing with Nature – Wetlands and Wetland Centres In Focus” and aims to highlight the benefits of wetland ecosystems to human health and the role of wetland centres in promoting health and well-being of people.
The Wetland Centre Festival
The virtual or online conference dubbed as “Wetland Centre Festival” will be a half-day session for three consecutive days and will feature the following:
- A panel discussion with a main speaker and two panelists (Days 1 and 2)
- Creative presentations from WLI members; Presentation formats could be in powerpoint, video, dance, product presentation or any creative format within the prescribed time allocation.(Days 1 and 2)
- Group workshop on ideas on moving forward and areas for collaboration and business meeting of WLI-Asia (Day 3)
To promote the Conference as well as WLI-Asia, both topics were featured in the SCPW online talk show ‘Wetland News, Wetland Views’ on 23 September 2021 and will be livestreamed through the SCPW Facebook page https://facebook.com/scpwinc and on its Youtube channel.
Find out more and register for the 8th WLI Asia Conference at rrcea.org.
Migration is probably the most awe-inspiring natural phenomenon. What it lacks in terms of enormous power, it makes up for in romance; birds being put against the elements and accomplishing a superhuman journey. Over the centuries, people have struggled to understand birds’ migrations and how they manage them year after year. Without becoming lost and continuing to face ever changing challenges along their routes, birds continue to amaze and inspire us upon their arrival each spring. Many parts of this mystery have been unravelled, yet there is still intrigue and so much more to discover.
September 1st each year marks the start of the Spring Alive Project season in Africa. This is an international project which, through activities, events, and resources, gets children and their families involved in the wondrous movement of birds between the northern and southern hemisphere. The Spring Alive project is originally from Germany. In 1987 in Bavaria, the first programme campaign was led by the German BirdLife Partner. Since then, Spring Alive unfolded both in terms of number of countries involved and observations made. At the moment the project is conducted by BirdLife Partners in over 40 countries across Europe and Africa. Through simple mechanisms children can track the movements of migrant birds. They are able to take action for these birds through conservation initiatives and events with local BirdLife International partners. These actions can take the form of making bird boxes and bird feeders or include participating in wetland cleanups. This year, the theme of the project is ‘How should we protect bird nests’ to help refuel tired birds on their magnificent migration. The project focuses on seven species: European Bee-eater, Common Cuckoo, White Stork, Barn Swallow, Sand Martin, Common Swift and the Common Ringed Plover.
BirdLife South Africa plans to host a range of activities during the season. Wetland clean-ups are planned for October and November in two local communities. We also plan to involve our local junior bird clubs in the monitoring of the seven migrant species between September and mid-December, with special attention to World Migratory Bird Day (9 October) and our national Birding Big Day (26 November). The project runs competitions for children throughout the season and for the first time in the history of Spring Alive, the first educator’s lesson competition will be held. Of course all activities relate back to our year’s theme – ‘How should we protect bird nests’. BirdLife South Africa develops various resources to assist educators and EE practitioners in implementing the project in the classroom and are available free of charge to schools and groups. We look forward to an amazing season and hope that the initiatives we implement, make a difference for the better in the lives of our intercontinental ‘flying machines’.
Should you wish to find out more about Spring Alive in your country, please contact Kristi Garland or visit the Spring Alive website – www.springalive.net. A big shout out to HeidelbergCement for funding the project at an international level.
A coastal swamp and marsh is a delicately balanced system dependant on the free flow of tide and the rivers that feed it fresh water. Wetlands are great mixing bowls of nutrients and food, and are feeding, spawning and nursery areas for sixty to seventy percent (60-70%) of our commercially and recreationally important COASTAL fish and shrimp. Several species of TURTLES also use estuarine zones of wetlands for part of their life cycle. The FISHING and SHRIMPING INDUSTRIES WILL NOT SURVIVE WITHOUT HEALTHY WETLANDS, and by extension, the LIVELIHOOD and SURVIVAL of MANY PEOPLE.
The PaP Wildfowl Trust has been involved in the breeding and release of locally endangered wetland waterfowl.
The Nariva Swamp was the home of the Wild Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata). They became locally extirpated in Trinidad in the 1950s (Ffrench). The PaP Wildfowl Trust has released 9042 Wild Muscovy Ducks there.
The Blue and Gold Macaw (Ara ararauna) were also locally extirpated, with only 15 left in Trinidad (Ffrench). The Nariva Wetlands were their natural habitat. The PaP Wildfowl trust has bred and released 63 Blue and Gold Macaws.
Also, in the 1950s, Ffrench records that the White-Faced Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna viduata) which were formally resident in Trinidad no longer resided here. The last one was recorded as being seen in 1958. To date the Trust has been able to breed & release 201 birds.
The Trust will continue its work of Environmental Education & Public Awareness with students and visitors after the pandemic.
Molly R. Gaskin, President, PaPWildfowl Trust: (868)218 4036 www.papwildfowltrust
Swapan is the lead manager of wetlands at Sydney Olympic Park. He is also the lead person driving the Sydney Wetland Institute, which is an incarnation of the Wetland Education and Training (WET) Program that he initiated some two decades ago. Swapan is a trained wetland practitioner with more than 40 years’ experience in research, management and knowledge sharing. He is a registered Professional Wetland Scientist (PWS) and an Adjunct Researcher at Charles Sturt University, Australia.
The Sydney Olympic Park Authority has recently launched the Sydney Wetland Institute (SWI) - a knowledge hub for best practice in urban wetlands. It aims to provide a focal point for managers, researchers, students, public and the sector as a trusted centre for knowledge and networks relating to urban wetlands, with an emphasis on the wetlands in Australia and other parts of Asia-Pacific. It will strive to formalise linkages across capacity building activities offered on a global scale in order to create a recognisable and reliable body for urban wetland education, industry research, community engagement and partnerships.
SWI is the culmination and extension of Sydney Olympic Park’s field-based school excursion programs (offered for over 30 years) and Wetland Education and Training (WET) programs delivered for wetland professionals over the last 20 years.
The Institute seeks to harness and share the knowledge and wisdom of the many wetland practitioners and researchers within the network. SWI will bridge an identified gap in the sector to translate wetland science in to practice in a collaborative and cooperative fashion.
The ongoing vision for SWI is to:
- Coordinate and deliver professional development programs (training), technical tours and advisory services;
- Continue running the monthly webinars and other virtual services;
- Facilitate industry networking, Third Party programs and wetland research;
- Engage local business, residential and student communities as custodians of Sydney Olympic Park wetlands and beyond; and
- Develop partnerships and course accreditation.
Considering the current uncertainties created by COVID-19 and for enabling time to consolidate key partnerships and evaluate progress, on the 29th of October 2020, SWI had its launch through an inaugural webinar. There it has announced a pilot program for 12-months including the delivery of regular webinars, online networking events and customised wetland courses – both virtual and face-to-face. The video of the webinar session where SWI was launched, may be accessed from https://vimeo.com/473753034.
Dr Swapan Paul, Sydney Wetland Institute, Sydney Olympic Park Authority
Human lifestyle has been changed a lot since the outbreak of COVID-19. Hong Kong Wetland Park had no exception with Park closure and suspension of education programmes since early 2020. The Park reopened in May 2021 and we were happy to see our visitors again.
Although social distancing measures still in force mean we have to suspend the guided tours and edutainment workshops, our mission to provide opportunities for education and public awareness about wetland knowledge and conservation goes on. We specially designed the reality puzzle games series ‘Treasure in Wetland’ and launched the programme as substitutes of those suspended education activities. These free flow participatory puzzle games require the participants to finish the tasks individually by figuring out the clues from our indoor and outdoor exhibits, incentivising participants to pay attention to wetland knowledge, and allows our visitors to enjoy their learning process without groups gathering. Three themed games were launched in this summer, namely ‘Wetland Master Cook’, ‘Small Black Ball’s Adventure’ and ‘Wise of the Path’. We are glad to learn that the participants ‘worked hard and played hard’ to finish the games and told us they had a meaningful learning experience through the activities. Their feedback was so encouraging for us to move on and design more interesting education programmes during this special time.
We wish all of the WLI members and wetland visitor centres well under COVID-19 and that everybody’s life can resume normality soon.
Ukumari has 44.7 hectares, of which 20 hectares is protected. These are largely natural protective forest and bamboo guaduales. Within these 20 hectares we find two wetlands with a total area of 4 ha. As cradles of biological diversity and sources of water and food for countless plant and animal species wetlands are ecosystems for conservation.
Together we are strong.
Bioparque Ukumari joined forces with Parque Naturales Nacionales and the Corporación Autónoma Regional de Risaralda (CARDER), to carry out a project to characterise the wetlands present in the Bioparque, identify the different species of fauna and flora that inhabit this place and generate a management plan to protect it.
Thanks to this union with the National Natural Park, it was possible to identify species typical of the area that have been lost due to the loss of these ecosystems: more than 150 species of wetland bird, small river otters, ocelots, paca, agouti, snapping turtles, hunting snakes, martejas or night monkeys, jaguarondis and others.
These wetlands are also home to migratory birds including ospreys that on their long journeys come to these wetlands to rest, feed and be protected, and then continue on their way.
Ukumari and the community
In order for the community to take ownership of their territory, a seedbed called CROAC, Guardians of the Wetlands, was formed to generate ownership of the knowledge of the ecosystem where they live. The children of the community neighbouring the Biopark, learn about and protect the wetlands.
Who are the members of the seedbed?
The group is made up of vulnerable boys and girls (12) between the ages of 7 and 12, belonging to a social stratum 1. Some are displaced, including mestizos, indigenous people, and Afro-Colombians. Social stratum is indicated by factors including the type of home they live in. Their fathers, mothers and/or caregivers work in construction, agriculture, harvesting crops, or as domestic servants. Their houses are built with timer and plastic sheeting. The floors are earth, wood, or sometimes cement. They have access to all public services, except sewage. The parents have all gone to primary school, at least in part. A few were able to finish high school.
Low awareness of the care and protection of the Environment is characteristic of the community. So, children do things that are environmentally less than ideal, especially for a community surrounded by flora and fauna.
What are the expectations of the seedbed?
The generation of awareness in a specific group of children in the community of Las Colonias so that they in turn can continue to promote caring practices that have a positive impact on the community.
To continue replicating the experience if it proves positive so that other children understand the importance of nature for human well-being.
Objectives of the seedbed:
To form a group of children who access the appropriate educational tools for the care and protection of the environment, via continuous training on the care of the different species of their natural environment and with the accompaniment of educators and qualified staff of the Ukumari Biopark, thus contributing to sustainable environmental development.
Margarita María Zapata Ramírez
The IUCN World Congress was a hybrid event this year, with many people unable to attend in person. Chris from the WLI team attended virtually, working with our WWT colleague Tomos Avent who was there in person at Marseille.
We supported an event with our MBP Africa colleagues (the WLI East Atlantic initiative), highlighting our work with wetland centres along the flyway. In particular the Optics for Africa scheme, in which we send used but still working binoculars and telescopes to our colleagues in West Africa, and the MBP giant flyway map project.
Here is Tomos handing over some optics in person!
On World Migratory Bird Day WLI members in three continents will form a birdwatching team. They will submit their bird sightings for 9 October to the eBird website, as part of Team WLI.
Back in May, WLI members counted 217 species in the UK, Japan, Benin, and South Africa.
The birding-race is organised by Global Birding, the people who usually host the UK's biggest Bird Fair.
It coincides with World Migratory Bird Day, the slogan for which is 'Sing, Fly, Soar – Like a Bird!'
If you are planning an activity, add it to the official events guide on WorldMigratoryBirdDay.org.
As always the official website provides artwork, including posters, social media toolkit, and licence-free photos that you are free to use.
Even if you cannot host an event, you are still welcome to join Team WLI on eBird! Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your eBird username and he will add you as a contact.
The INTECOL International Wetlands Conference will happen virtually in October with lots of interest to wetland educators. WLI’s Chris Rostron will chair some sessions. Now a virtual conference, INTECOL is based in Aotearoa New Zealand, so the time zone is particularly suitable for wetlands professionals in the Asia-Pacific region. See www.intecol2021.com to explore the programme and register.
WLI now has access to wetland centre expertise right in the team. WWT already hosts two staff for WLI, and now they are joined by interpretation specialist Anna Wilson. Anna has long provided consultancy for commercial clients of WWT and we are delighted that some of her expertise will now be for available for WLI members.
Anna has over 15 years’ experience delivering visitor experiences, exhibitions, events and learning programmes internationally and in the UK, both as a consultant and whilst working for museum and heritage organisations, including the British Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the Creswell Heritage Trust.
As a Principal Consultant for WWT she undertakes a range of wetland, natural and cultural heritage and science related interpretation projects. Anna has expertise in masterplanning; interpretation planning; exhibition research and development; copywriting; project and budget management; managing and working with a wide range of subcontractors and stakeholders; and, community engagement and learning. Projects include leading the wetland park planning and interpretation signage strategy for the newly constructed Yancheng Wetland Park, China; leading the design and build of a visitor centre extension at Severn Valley Country Park, UK; and, delivery of an advisory report for a potential reconstructed wetland park on coastal ex-brownfield land, Republic of Korea.
She continues to provide bespoke support to projects through consultancy, but has also joined the WLI team to offer advice and guidance to its members.
Some of you will recognise Anna from her presentation on the future of wetland visitor centres to the UK World Heritage group earlier this year.
NATURA2000 is the largest ecological network in the world, created by EU across Europe to assure conservation of diverse species and habitats: from butterflies to bears and from lagoons to alpine meadows. 21st of May is the official date when that unique effort is celebrated across Europe. Pomorie Lake is part of the NATURA2000 ecological network, being a representative wetland in Bulgaria for a priority habitat type like Coastal lagoons and hosting numerous protected species of birds like Sandwich tern, Avocet, Black-winged stilt, Kentish plover, Little and Common tern.
May is traditionally not a very warm month on the Black Sea coast due to prevailing cold north winds. 21 May 2021 was not an exception but that did not stop schoolchildren from four schools visiting the shore of Pomorie Lagoon. They joined the celebration of NATURA2000 Day by watching the typical inhabitants of the wetland – Avocets, Black-winged stilts and last but not least the symbol of Pomorie Lagoon – the vociferous Sandwich terns! The kids and their teachers bravely faced the wind and enjoyed the sight of those rare birds and the lectures provided by LIFE FOR POMORIE LAGOON team of Green Balkans NGO and Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation. Those that were the most attentive in the lectures performed best during the follow up quiz and of course got rewards – bird photo-guides, calendars, posters. The event was a rare chance for schools from inland villages of Gaberovo, Goritsa and Poroy to visit the coastal lagoon!
In beginning of September more than 30 volunteers from 3 countries of different backgrounds and ages gathered on the lagoon’s shore lead by their enthusiasm to help the rare birds nesting there. They have dedicated time and efforts to restore the islet habitat where the Sandwich tern colony nests – symbol of Pomorie Lake and being the largest on the Balkans. Hammers, shovels and buckets were their tools in the live chain that was bringing sediment from the lake’s bottom to enlarge significantly the available nesting area, which had been heavily diminished by winter storms. The program of the conservation camp was complemented with lectures, films and birdwatching as part of the African – Eurasian Shorebird Survey.
Project LIFE19 NAT/BG/000804 LIFE for Pomorie Lagoon (https://lifeforpomorielagoon.eu/) is implemented in partnership by Green Balkans NGO, Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation, M-Pomorie Salinas Ltd and Tour du Valat of France.