Archive for the ‘International Crane Foundation’ Category

Saving the cranes: Hope flies in North Korea

Friday, June 7th, 2013

According to the Chicago Tribune:

Hall Healy, chairman of the Wisconsin-based International Crane Foundation, has been engaged for years in the effort to protect the migratory cranes in North Korea and restore their habitats. Since 2008, the group has been raising money and coordinating efforts to help a farming community on the Anbyon Plain, roughly 60 miles north of the DMZ.

Through helping the Anbyon farmers, Healy said they are also helping the cranes. When there’s more food for the farmers, there’s also more rice left over in the fields for the cranes, Healy said. The birds also benefit from a pond that was recently built and stocked with fish.

“You have to work with the people,” Healy said. “And if the people have needs, and they always do, you have to help them first.”

Founded in 1973, the International Crane Foundation works in countries around the world to protect the 15 species of cranes in existence.

The North Korea project — which focuses on the red-crowned and white-naped cranes — has special meaning for Healy, who’s been closely involved since its inception. He’s traveled to the DMZ more than a dozen times, and to the Anbyon Plain twice — most recently in November 2011. He plans to return in the fall.

Anbyon was targeted as a priority area, out of concern that a large wetlands area south of the DMZ, near Seoul, could be developed soon, Healy said. If that development occurs, Anbyon would give cranes a reliable haven.

Over the past five years, the foundation has raised about $200,000, including in-kind services, for machinery, fertilizer, training and building supplies, Healy said. Partnering with other groups — including the State Academy of Sciences in Pyongyang, North Korea, the Anbyon farming cooperative, BirdLife International and the Germany-based Hanns Seidel Foundation — it has turned that relatively small amount of money into significant results, Healy said.

So far, it’s worked out well for the farmers. The primary crop in Anbyon is rice, Healy said, but the farmers are also now planting fruit trees and raising livestock. Organic fertilizer, new machinery and sustainable farming techniques have improved the crop yield and the health of the soil, he said.

On the crane side, it’s still a work in progress. Last winter, cranes circled but did not land in Anbyon. But they landed the two years previous, Healy said, and better results are expected this year.

Wildlife conservation that directly benefits people is becoming a more popular approach, said Jeff Walk, an ornithologist and director of science for the Nature Conservancy in Illinois. And cranes are an excellent focus, he said, because people are naturally drawn to them.

“It’s a good thing. You need that hook with people,” Walk said. “We call them ‘an umbrella species.’ You work to protect them and a whole other community benefits, too.”

Compared with working in other countries, Healy said communication with the North Korean farmers has been limited and indirect. Through the United Nations mission in New York, the International Crane Foundation communicates with the State Academy of Sciences in Pyongyang, instead of directly with the farming cooperative.

Healy worked previously as president of the DMZ Forum, a New York-based group focused on ecological preservation in the DMZ.

Seung-ho Lee, current president of the DMZ Forum, said conservation work in North Korea is inherently “a trust-building process” with people who have been largely cut off from the Western world. The Anbyon project is effective because it yields results without ideology or politics, he said.

“It’s a very useful approach,” Lee said. “To give them a sense of volunteerism and work, but to also give them a real product.”

Previous post on the International Crane Foundation here.

Read the full story here:
Saving the cranes: Hope flies in North Korea
Chicago Tribune
Gregory Trotter
2013-6-7

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International Crane Foundation

Friday, February 27th, 2009

On my last visit to North Korea in 2005, fellow Atlanta native Ted Turner was also in Pyongyang (not at the Yangakdo unfortunatley, but the centrally-located Koryo Hotel) working to secure the DMZ as a crane reserve.  It turns out that this effort is fairly well organizaed and funded.  Below, I have attached some articles, names, and organizations involved in this movement:

The International Crane Foundation

Since 1974, ICF has been involved in conservation efforts for the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the three mile wide strip of land between the divided neighbors that provides a home during migration or winter for half of the world’s White-naped Cranes and a quarter of the world’s Red-crowned Cranes.

Conservation in Korea

“For more than three decades, I have been coming to Korea to see the cranes that spend the winter along the DMZ. About one-third of the world’s 2,500 Red-crowned Cranes depend on the DMZ and the nearby Civilian Controlled Zone (CCZ) as their only remaining sanctuary on the peninsula. The Cheorwon Basin in the central highlands has the greatest numbers of cranes, while smaller flocks live in the Yuen Cheon valley, the lower reaches of the Imjin River, and the tidal flats around Kangwha Island.

The Red-crowned Crane is an auspicious symbol of good luck and long life throughout the Orient and cranes worldwide are a symbol of peace. Now perhaps the Red-crowned Crane can be a flagship for the conservation of the DMZ.

I have always tried to help my Korean colleagues in their efforts to save that priceless strip of land that’s carpeted by a grasslands, wetlands, and forests restored by the creative forces of nature over more that a half-century. Although it has been exciting to see modernization sweep it’s magic wand over Korea, it is alarming that humans now have such power to transform landscapes so quickly.

If the remaining natural landscapes of the DMZ and the CCZ are to be saved for nature, Korean conservationists from all walks of life must join together in a united front to negotiate with those more interested in development. This is now possible through a movement started in 1996 by two Korean Americans, Dr. Ke Chung Kim (a scholar) and Mr. Seung-ho Lee (a businessman).

To promote the conservation of the DMZ, they created a non-governmental organization called the DMZ Forum. I am honored to serve on the Board of Directors.

Under the leadership of Mr. Hall Healy (an environmental planner), the DMZ has created a Coalition for the Conservation of the DMZ. Although this Coalition had its birth in the USA, its operation will be “Koreanized” with leadership from an effective and prestigious Korean citizen and supported by a coalition of individuals and organizations primarily from Korea, but also from other nations. Only through the power of partnership, can these treasures of nature from “The Land of the Morning Calm” be saved.”

Recently, ICF held an event.  Here is the email they sent out (h/t Mike):

For years, hundreds of the magnificent Red-crowned Cranes wintered in lowland wetlands and organically-maintained agricultural fields in the DPRK.  With the rise of chemical fertilization after the Korean War through its alliance with the USSR, crops were plentiful in the DPRK, and the field gleanings provided sustenance for the cranes.  With the collapse of the USSR, the cheap source of fertilizer dried up, and after two decades of chemical dependence the organic farming methods had been lost.  Hungry humans foraged for food where the cranes had once wintered.  The cranes moved south, in and around the DMZ and the Civilian Controlled Zone (CCZ).  These two zones, however, have been targeted by developers as potential sites for future cities.  The plan for the re-introduction of wintering cranes in the DPRK addresses teaching the local people organic farming methods anew and relies on using captive cranes to attract wild cranes during their autumn migration.

Through collaboration among colleagues of the Korean University in Tokyo, the State Academy of Sciences in Pyongyan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea), BirdLife International, the International Crane Foundation, and Pisan Cooperative Farm of the DPRK, work is underway to restore the Red-crowned Cranes as winter visitors on the Anbyon Plain located in DPRK.  The project began in the spring and summer of 2008, and it is hoped that it will lead to communication between the DPRK and the Republic of Korea on the conservation of red-crowned Cranes in both nations.

From the event’s web page:

Through collaboration among colleagues of the Korean University in Tokyo, the State Academy of Sciences in Pyongyan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea), BirdLife International, the International Crane Foundation, and Pisan Cooperative Farm of the DPRK, work is underway to restore the Red-crowned Cranes as winter visitors on the Anbyon Plain located in DPRK.  The project began in the spring and summer of 2008, and it is hoped that it will lead to communication between the DPRK and the Republic of Korea on the conservation of red-crowned Cranes in both nations.

For years, hundreds of the magnificent Red-crowned Cranes wintered in lowland wetlands and organically-maintained agricultural fields in the DPRK.  With the rise of chemical fertilization after the Korean War through its alliance with the USSR, crops were plentiful in the DPRK, and the field gleanings provided sustenance for the cranes.  With the collapse of the USSR, the cheap source of fertilizer dried up, and after two decades of chemical dependence the organic farming methods had been lost.  Hungry humans foraged for food where the cranes had once wintered.  The cranes moved south, in and around the DMZ and the Civilian Controlled Zone (CCZ).  These two zones, however, have been targeted by developers as potential sites for future cities.  The plan for the re-introduction of wintering cranes in the DPRK addresses teaching the local people organic faming methods anew and relies on using captive cranes to attract wild cranes during their autumn migration.

More links:
The DMZ Forum web page

DMZ Coalition

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