15 Mar 2019

Obituary: Dr Lew Young, CEO of East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership

The late Dr Young was a passionate conservationist whose work has greatly contributed to strengthening the conservation and management of wetlands across Asia.

© Ramsar
© Ramsar
By Shannon Anstee

BirdLife was saddened to hear about the recent passing of the Chief Executive of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP), Dr. Lew Young. Lew passed away on the 5th of March, 2019 while on a working trip to develop conservation actions for the Yellow Sea in Beijing on behalf of EAAFP. He was 60 years old.

Lew was a passionate conservationist who has committed his whole career to the conservation of Asia’s wetlands and waterbirds. For nearly 20 years, he was responsible for managing the Mai Po Nature Reserve in Hong Kong SAR under WWF Hong Kong, one of the best known wetland reserves in the region. In this capacity, he helped to institute best practices for wetlands management, and created education programs for students and visitors. He also helped with the establishment of the Wetland Link International-Asia, which facilitates cooperation between wetland education centers around the continent.

In 2008, Lew was appointed as the Senior Regional Advisor for Asia and Oceania for the Ramsar Secretariat. In this capacity he provided support for the effective implementation of the convention across 33 countries in Asia. Subsequently as CEO of EAAFP he was instrumental in bringing forward the agenda on Southeast Asian migratory species, the Dalmatian Pelican and ‘Indo-Burma wetlands’.

For members of the BirdLife team, Lew was a beloved colleague, described by those close to him as patient, compassionate, and possessing a wry sense of humour. Jonathan Eames OBE, Representative and Chief Technical Advisor Asia, recalls hosting Lew at Xuan Thuy National Park many years ago, where Lew became very excited by the small one-man canoes the Vietnamese fishermen used. On Eames’ next visit to Dr. Lew, Eames surprised Lew by carrying a canoe on a Vietnamese Airline as hand luggage.

Dr. Lew Young was an influential conservationist in the world of migratory bird conservation in Asia, and a dear friend of the BirdLife family.  The thoughts of the BirdLife partnership are with his family and friends at this time. If you would like to express your condolences to Lew’s family you may write condolences.eaafp@gmail.com. An online memorial wall has been set up at lewyoung.forevermissed.com/.