World Wetlands Day in China

02/02/2007

Hong Kong Wetland Park


World Wetlands Day at the Hong Kong Wetland Park

Hong Kong Wetland Park opened its doors in May 2006 and in less than one year has welcomed almost 1,000,000 visitors; a success story indeed. World Wetlands Day at the Park on Saturday 27th was another success story. To a mixed audience of adults and children, the ceremony began with brief speeches on wetlands and the WWD theme on fisheries, followed by an awards ceremony for WWD competition winners - in photography, website design, drawing and painting, inter-school bird race, and story telling, all with a wetlands theme of course. Souvenirs were presented to a number of organizations to acknowledge their support in organising the day's events. In addition, to acknowledge the importance of their contribution to the running of the Park, gold, silver and bronze certificates were awarded to the Park's 43 outstanding volunteers who have given from 50-200 hours of their time to help at the Park during the year in their education, conservation and research programmes. In total, the Park's more than 2,000 volunteers have contributed 1,800 man-days this year!

The three guest speakers who opened the ceremony and awarded some of the prizes, included Dr Peter Bridgewater, Ramsar's Secretary General; Professor Wong Yuik-shan, Chairman of the Nature Conservation sub-committee and Vice President and Professor of Biology at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; and Mr Lau Sin-pang, Acting Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation in the Hong Kong Government. The speakers emphasized the relevance of this theme to Hong Kong from each of their perspectives, noting the importance of managing aquaculture in Deep Bay, which includes a Ramsar Site, and that Hong Kong's mudflats, mangroves, and coral areas must continue to be managed for wildlife - and for people. The Park, and special activities such as WWD celebrations, have a key role in raising the awareness of Hong Kong's 8 million people about the role of wetlands in human health and well-being, and the need for their support in the conservation of local wetlands.

The 'show-stealers' of the opening ceremony were undoubtedly three of the winning story-telling teams who performed their stories on stage to enthusiastic applause from an appreciative audience. Related in Cantonese, I was able to follow the stories partly because of the quality of the acting and partly through the rapid translation to English by Mr Lau seated next to me! The three stories were all related to wetlands and fisheries, and each delivered some simple wetland lessons to the audience.

Following the awards ceremony, participants, joined by many other visitors, were able to enjoy a Wetland Fun Fair in the Park with fun and games for all provided by a number of NGOs and community groups from Hong Kong. Through a number of engaging games that attracted young and old alike, participants won small prizes and at the same time learned something about wetlands in Hong Kong.

In the afternoon all visitors were invited to a public seminar on Community, Education and Public Awareness (CEPA) at wetland education centres.

-- Sandra Hails, Ramsar CEPA Programme Officer

Ramsar's Secretary General, Peter Bridgewater, delivering one of the three opening speeches

The three guests, Mr Lau Sin-pang, Dr Peter Bridgewater, Professor Wong Yuik-shan

The three principal guests each had to remove a 'fish' and place it on the backdrop . . .

. . . to reveal the theme of the day - Conservation of wetlands starts with me.

One of the 5 winning teams in the Website design competition

One of the 6 winning teams in the 7th Inter-school Bird Race. The 'top' team spotted 66 species in 4 hours on the race day.

'Drawing and painting our wetlands' winners

'Drawing and painting our wetlands' winner

'Wetlands and fisheries' Storytelling winners

'Wetlands and fisheries' Storytelling winners

'Wetlands and fisheries' Storytelling winner

'Wetlands and fisheries' Storytelling winners

Certificates for volunteers who have contributed 50-200 hours to the park over the past year.


Performances from three of the winning teams

I.

The wetland (all brown with some flowers), in discussion with a shrimp and a dragonfly, each telling the audience about looking after their wetland to keep it healthy - and not to throw rubbish into it (you can see the rubbish on the back of the wetland as she exits the stage)!

The dragonfly

II.

The story of the traditional shrimp ponds (gei wai) which are still in operation in the Mai Po nature reserve managed by WWF Hong Kong. Enter the shrimp farmer, and two very cute shrimps. The shrimps tell us what a wonderful place the mangroves around the ponds are, providing them with food and shelter. Then the farmer makes ready to open the sluice gates (using the rectangle of wood on the chair) to let the water drain from the pond. He sets his nets to catch the poor shrimps who try to swim away from the nets but cannot and are caught (but don't seem too unhappy about this!).

III.

A mudskipper, a girl and her father. The girl picks a flower from the wetland and is given a short, sharp lesson on how unkind that is for the wetland from the mudskipper (a fish that lives in the mangrove/mudflat environment). The mudskipper goes on to tell father and daughter more about human behaviour that harms the wetlands.

The Wetland Fair, with fun, games, prizes - and a chance to learn about wetland in Hong Kong and their conservation - for visitors of all ages.


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