WWF calls for a science-based approach linking city wetlands to restore balance in biodiversity – think flyways and act locally to protect wetland areas. | WWF Hong Kong

WWF calls for a science-based approach linking city wetlands to restore balance in biodiversity – think flyways and act locally to protect wetland areas.

27 November 2018

Invited by the Society of Wetland Scientists - Asia Chapter, Peter Cornthwaite, WWF-Hong Kong CEO and Dr Xianji Wen, Assistant Director of WWF-Hong Kong's Mai Po Nature Reserve and Regional Wetlands, attended a study visit and science conference “Satoyama and Beyond - Wetlands from Uplands to Lowlands”, held in Taipei from 17-22 November 2018.

The conference shared best practices amongst wetland experts and built peer support networks between cities to train a new generation of young scientists and researchers. In addition, it developed new thinking around wetlands as vertical systems from uplands to lowlands. The meeting also looked at how wetlands and their local communities utilize them for recreation and education, and the threats to wetlands from climate change, land reclamation and development.

Speaking to the delegates at the conference, WWF-Hong Kong CEO Peter Cornthwaite highlighted the importance of wetland managers building cooperation and links between the various wetlands sites and cities along the EAAF. “WWF-Hong Kong assists in training wetland managers and helps hubs in cities along the flyway with wetland management planning. We would like to see the active management model as implemented at the Mai Po Nature Reserve, a true wetland in a city, expanded to other sites,” Cornthwaite said. The conference’s findings reinforced WWF-Hong Kong’s belief that the protection of our coastal wetland areas of Deep Bay and Mai Po Nature Reserve must extend from managing the mudflats, mangroves to the gei wai and fish ponds in the Wetland Conservation Area (WCA). Attention must be paid to the Wetland Buffer Area (WBA) and the water passing from uplands through the wetland all need research and to being actively managed. WWF does not support high density development in the Wetland Buffer Area. We would like to see degraded wetland and abandoned agricultural land in the WCA and WBA surrounding Mai Po brought within the Ramsar Site. They should all be managed under an integrated and connected wetland area. With over 2,050 species, Mai Po plays a crucial role in regional biodiversity.

The organisations represented at the conference pledged to have greater cooperation in the year ahead. The conference concluded with the findings that city wetlands, coastal wetlands, vertical wetlands, from uplands to lowlands, are all connected. They are connected along a flyway, connected to their uplands, connected by the experts and city communities that care for wetlands and biodiversity.

Dr Xianji Wen noted, “The upcoming meeting at the EAAFP MOP10 hosted in Hainan from 10 December will bring together Flyway partners to look for closer cooperation on management, training and scientific research across the flyway.”

Mai Po and the surrounding Deep Bay wetlands are an important refueling stop in the Pearl River Estuary a refuge for tens of thousands of waterbirds who migrate along the EAAF from the Far East of Russia to Australia and New Zealand. It supports 51 globally threatened or near threatened species, like the black-faced spoonbill that links Hong Kong to wetlands in Korea and elsewhere.

Established in Hong Kong since 1981, WWF-Hong Kong looks forward to expanding our flyway work and wetland science programme, assisting others through WWF’s Asian Waterbird Conservation Fund. We thank the conference organisers for the opportunity to meet various international scientists who all have a common purpose to improve management of our precious wetlands and deliver experiential education to schools, youth and communities at their local wetland. We look to the day when WWF has offices and trained experts across various EAAF city wetlands, as well as Hong Kong across cities in the region, including the Greater Bay Area and Taipei. Let’s get a new deal for nature and restore our planet’s biodiversity.