Hong Kong’s Mai Po Nature Reserve is an iconic wetland, renowned locally, throughout south China and across the world. Under the management of WWF-Hong Kong for over 30 years, this wetland ecosystem located in the Mai Po and Inner Deep Bay Ramsar site is home to an exceptionally rich variety of resident and migratory wildlife. Over 20 species have been discovered here, including Parasesarma maipoensis (米埔近相手蟹) and the Mai Po Bent-winged firefly (Pteroptyx maipo米埔曲翅螢) – a species which was only named in 2011.
On 22 May, the United Nations’ International Day for Biological Diversity, WWF officially launched a two-year project called “Discovering Biodiversity in Hong Kong Wetlands”. Engaging some of Hong Kong’s top wildlife experts and species specialists and guided by the concept of “citizen science”, the project will conduct in-depth biological surveys across the Mai Po and Inner Deep Bay Ramsar site. The project’s experts and volunteers will survey and catalogue current wildlife in the wetlands, and consolidate past data from Hong Kong and the region, aiming to establish trends and discover the causes of observed changes in wildlife populations. This project has been made possible through the generous support of The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC).
Hosted by Mr Adam Koo, Chief Executive Officer of WWF-Hong Kong, the project’s kick off ceremony was officiated by Dr So Ping Man, Assistant Director (Conservation) of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department; Professor Jim Chi-yung, J.P., Steering Committee Member and Convenor of the Terrestrial Biodiversity Working Group; Dr Wong Fook-yee, Steering Committee Member and Convenor of the Awareness, Mainstreaming and Sustainability Working Group of the Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan; and Mr Raymond Cheng, The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited’s Group General Manager and Chief Operating Officer for the Asia Pacific Region. An acknowledgment plaque curtained by Common reedgrass, a plant native to Hong Kong wetlands, was also unveiled. WWF staff then demonstrated some of the surveys and the usage of survey equipment to the group.
Mr Adam Koo, Chief Executive Officer of WWF-Hong Kong expressed his gratitude to HSBC, “For years, WWF has been longing to conduct a large-scale project like this. Compiling a complete portfolio of biodiversity across the Mai Po and Inner Deep Bay Ramsar site – part of Hong Kong’s unique heritage – is an enormously important undertaking. Thanks to the support of HSBC, we will finally be able to conduct this historic project and share our valuable findings with the conservation sector, with teachers and students, and with the general public.”
Mr Raymond Cheng, The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited’s Group General Manager and Chief Operating Officer, Asia Pacific said, “As an international bank, HSBC has the responsibility to invest in the long-term prosperity of the communities we serve. Many of the world's major ecosystems and biodiversity hotspots are under strain from climate change and other local factors. HSBC is pleased to support this project to promote public awareness about these topics and forming partnerships with other organisations to conserve biodiversity which will benefit generations to come.”
Dr Michael Lau, Assistant Director of Conservation for WWF-Hong Kong spoke about the significance of the project at the ceremony, “The Hong Kong SAR Government is formulating the city’s first Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (BSAP). Findings from WWF’s new project will provide valuable information which will fill important knowledge gaps identified by the BSAP focus group. The knowledge gained will also help improve our management work at Mai Po Nature Reserve.”
Mr Alex Wong, Project Manager for Discovering Biodiversity in Hong Kong Wetlands said, “Another highlight of the project is the engagement of “citizen scientists” – secondary school and university students and members of the general public will gain first-hand experience and valuable biodiversity knowledge by participating in scientific research guided by experts. The project team will work with local teachers to publish related education materials and a wetland symposium will be organized to share our findings with both the conservation community and the public.”
The recruitment of citizen scientists for the project has now begun, with WWF aiming to enlist up to 250 passionate volunteers for the project team. Interested parties can click here to find out more:http://wwf.hk/DiscoveringBiodiversitye.
Officiating guests unveiled an acknowledgement plaque curtained by Common reedgrass, a plant native to Hong Kong wetlands, at the kick off ceremony of WWF’s two year project called “Discovering Biodiversity in Hong Kong Wetlands”.
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