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Nature with No Barriers
© Lew Young

An infrastructure upgrade and improvement programme is currently underway at Mai Po Nature Reserve, creating universal access and providing opportunities to empower people from different backgrounds and all sectors of society with important knowledge about wetland and environmental protection as well as sustainable development.

The most extensive of these works is funded by a HK$347.86 million grant from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust. The project has been in the planning stages since 2016. Construction kicked off on 10 September 2018, with the start of internal renovations at the Mai Po Education Centre.

The project will create an enhanced exhibition area with interactive learning for young people, wet/dry laboratories that offer students and researchers the opportunity to interact with flora and fauna, conduct research and collect citizen science data, augmented reality, and tactile and auditory experiences. The first phase will be ready in late-2020.

Part of the upgrade includes the construction of a new Peter Scott Field Studies Centre and the building of two tower hides, one in the northwest and another, south of the reserve. Supporting the visitor experience, a one-kilometre natural boardwalk linking the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department post and the Education Centre will replace the existing path and provide universal access facilities.

Our Nature with No Barriers project, sponsored by HSBC in 2015, has enabled us to expand universal accessibility at Mai Po Nature Reserve. The facilities upgrade focused on bird hides and visitor paths.

Nature with No Barriers has helped to make the reserve more accessible to people with physical disabilities and to underprivileged communities. Over the years, hundreds of tours were organised with specially trained educators using enhanced site infrastructure, including universal access at two bird hides and along the main visitor path.

New facilities include 3D bird models, education panels and a mobile app. The six 3D bird models (black-faced spoonbill, black kite, common kingfisher, Eurasian wigeon, Eurasian curlew, spotted dove) include braille information panels and sound clips of the bird calls.

A portable digital telescope system was developed to enable visitors, especially those in wheelchairs, to observe birds close-up using tablets. Under the programme, we also installed a wireless live camera at a floating bird hide on the mudflat to provide views of birds and mudskippers.