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Concept Note on Integrated Conservation for Mai Po & Deep Bay Wetlands

© WWF-Hong Kong
Extend the Mai Po & Inner Deep Bay Ramsar Site

To echo the Northern Metropolis Development Strategy of “Implementing a Proactive Conservation Policy to Create Environmental Capacity” announced by the Hong Kong SAR Government in October 2021, WWF recommends that the current Ramsar Site be extended to include the three proposed Wetland Conservation Parks (WCPs), Hong Kong Wetland Park and its extension, the Tsim Bei Tsui/Lau Fau Shan/Pak Nai Coastal Protection Park and Waterfront Promenade, and Long Valley Nature Park to create a wetland landscape along the Deep Bay coast.
 
This extended Ramsar Site will reflect the Hong Kong SAR Government's commitment to wetland conservation at international, national and local levels, and will establish a wetland management policy and approach for holistic planning, implementation, and coordination among stakeholders. With appropriate management, it will contribute to climate mitigation and resilience of the coastal area and inland infrastructure and communities.
 
By taking over WWF’s 40 years of experience in co-managing Mai Po Nature Reserve with the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, and the current and future conservation imperatives, WWF preliminarily identifies wetlands that can be designated as new Biodiversity Management Zones (BMZs) within the extended Ramsar Site. These BMZs will contribute to a climate adaptation strategy for the Mai Po Nature Reserve, and maintain its position as an important wetland along the EAAF for migratory birds.  

“Gei wai for the South, Fishponds for the North”

Bird diversity in gei wai is greater than that in fishponds. Therefore, we recommend restoring the fishponds in Lut Chau, Nam Sang Wai, Fung Lok Wai, and Tsim Bei Tsui in the Nam Sang Wai WCP into gei wai, to adopt an integrated management strategy. All four areas remain inter-tidally connected with the Inner Deep Bay through sluice gates. The fishponds in the north-east can be managed for pond-fish farming. Thus, both systems can complement each other in providing diverse habitats for waterbirds. Local communities would become prominent stakeholders in pond and gei wai management.

Creation of an “Otter Freeway”

To facilitate movement of Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra) within the Inner Deep Bay, we suggest creating a passageway-without-barriers. With major decline in numbers and shrinking distributions in China, this species is “Endangered” in China. In Hong Kong, it is a species of conservation concern, being restricted to the Inner Deep Bay area, which is also one of the few remaining sites with recent otter records in South China. Otters can travel over long distances; thus, they can potentially utilize the whole Inner Deep Bay if suitable habitats and connectivity is provided. This would entail setting up otter-friendly channels to facilitate movement between and within the three WCPs and Mai Po Nature Reserve.

Role Model for Wetland Conservation

Conservation, education, and stakeholder engagement of Mai Po & Inner Deep Bay Ramsar Site is a model for other wetlands in EAAF, especially within Mainland China. The holistic conservation strategy and approach of “Proactive Conservation Policy to Create Environmental Capacity” can be documented and shared with other wetlands to inspire their conservation. Planning and implementation of the Policy could be communicated and discussed with Shenzhen and beyond in the Greater Bay Area to better coordinate and synergize the conservation efforts.