Birds and Schools is an interactive and international programme for exchange between schools from different parts of the world, and to share what the students have done or learned about the migratory birds and wetlands they visited. WLI initiated the programme in the East Atlantic Flyway. In 2022, for the first time, the programme was brought to East Asian-Australasian Flyway. To educate and raise awareness of the conservation of migratory waterbirds and their habitats, the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) invited school students to visit a wetland, learn about bird migration, and wetlands and conduct activities related to what they have learned.
On 20th December, 2022, the flyway's first Birds and Schools was organised by the EAAFP Secretariat, WWF-Hong Kong and Incheon Metropolitan City Education Office. The event is also under the Incheon-Hong Kong Sister Site Programme. In this hybrid event, three middle/high schools and students from Incheon, Ro Korea (Incheon Haneul Academy, Incheon Namdong Middle School and Incheon High School) and two secondary schools from Hong Kong (Pui Shing Catholic Secondary School and Yuen Long Merchants Association Secondary School) joined.
The event was kicked off by a warm-up activity lead by Vivian Fu, Senior Communication Officer of EAAFP Secretariat. The students from both places taught each other the name of Black-faced Spoonbill, the bird that links up Incheon and Hong Kong, in their own languages. After that, an opening speech was given by Mr. Connor Walsh, International Engagement Officer from Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), who shared what has been done at the Birds and Schools event in previous years in the other flyways. This was followed by a speech by Ms. Han So Young, Senior Supervisor of Incheon Metropolitan City Office of Education, Climate Change, Ecology and Science Education Team. She talked about the city’s work to expand school activities related to biodiversity and climate change. Mr. Yamme Leung, Education Director of WWF-Hong Kong, introduced the “Wetland Incubators” project at Mai Po Nature Reserve and the Water Caltrops Fostering Project is one of the key events to engage local communities including schools.
The 2nd session was presentations by students. The first presenter was Ms. Taeyeong Kim from Incheon Namdong Middle School, who shared her bird surveys in Sorae Wetland and highlighted the importance of this site as waterbirds’ habitats. The second presenters were Ho Ying Yin and Yuen Rachel Lok Lam from Pui Shing Catholic Secondary School. They illustrated the aim to raise water caltrops in Mai Po to restore specialist species, such as Pheasant-tailed Jacana to Mai Po. Their team has tried to grow water caltrops at school which then transplant to Mai Po. After that, Gi-tae Park from Incheon High School presented his club’s project “Mudflat Monitoring ‘Gaenoon’” in Yongzhong Island and help to raise awareness of the biodiversity on mudflats to local people.
Five students (Chan Ho Yan, Fung Ka Lok, Mak Hoi Kei, Ng Sze Long and Tin Nok Pan) from Yuen Long Merchants Association Secondary School shared with us about their study of habitat conditions for growing water caltrops and finding solutions to improve the germination rate. The last presenter was Soo-yeon Yoo from Incheon Haneul Academy Botany Team. She presented her study on halophytes in Sorae Wetland and further propose to study blue carbon at the wetland.
At the end of the presentations, students from Incheon and Hong Kong were encouraged to ask each other questions. They shared their own interesting experience and discovery during their projects, and expressed that other than the scientific aspect, plants, birds and other creatures in the wetlands also have traditional and social values. The participants hoped there will be a chance that they can meet face-to-face one day!
Original text and photos credit: EAAFP Secretariat. Many thanks to EAAFP interns Sinwoo Won and Yoomi Sim for their flawless technical implementation.