Hong Kong Wetland Park celebrates World Wetlands Day 2014

  Hong Kong Wetland Park (HKWP) held a ceremony today (January 25) to celebrate World Wetlands Day 2014. Under the theme "Wetlands and Agriculture", which echoes the United Nations (UN) International Year of Family Farming, the event highlights the importance of wetlands in supporting agriculture as well as the need to use wetlands wisely by finding the right balance of interdependencies between agriculture, water and wetlands.

  World Wetlands Day commemorates the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands in Ramsar, Iran, on February 2, 1971 - an international effort for the conservation and wise use of wetlands around the world. On this day every year, activities are organised worldwide to raise public awareness of wetlands' value and benefits and promote the conservation and wise use of wetlands.

  Wetlands and agriculture are often interrelated in complex settings. Wetlands support agriculture by providing soils and water, hence providing food and agricultural products for humans, nurturing the development of cultures, and improving people's livelihoods. Alternatively, some wetlands are dependent on continued agricultural activities to maintain their ecological character, and some fields are unique habitats that provide feeding grounds for wildlife. Therefore, it is important to wisely manage the wetlands and associated agricultural development.

  In Hong Kong, there are diverse wetland habitats with ecological, functional and amenity values. These include streams, rivers, natural marshes, mangroves, intertidal mudflats, artificial fishponds, reservoirs and gei wai. Among these wetlands, the gei wai in the Mai Po Inner Deep Bay Ramsar Site are a representative example of managing aquaculture in a sustainable way.

  Located next to the Mai Po Inner Deep Bay Ramsar Site, the HKWP is a facility incorporating the functions of education, conservation and ecotourism. The HKWP's "Wetlands at Work" exhibition provides visitors with an opportunity to get familiar with a variety of wetland crops and freshwater fish. The leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds of these crops on display provide food for a variety of birds and insects. Visitors can learn about the ecology of the agricultural land whilst visiting the fields.

  Officiating at the celebration ceremony, the Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation, Mr Alan Wong, said, "To tie in with the UN International Year of Family Farming, the HKWP will organise a rice production activity for families. The activity will allow participants to experience the processes of rice production, from transplantation of seedlings to harvesting. We hope that the families can experience the fun of being a farmer, and learn about the importance of wetlands in the provision of food. More importantly, we hope to convey the messages on wetland conservation to our next generation."

  Also speaking at the ceremony, the Chairman of the Steering Committee for the Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan for Hong Kong, Professor Lam Kin-che, reminded participants of the importance of wetlands. He said, "Wetlands provide humans with myriad benefits known as 'ecosystem services'. These include the natural resources that we consume directly and other services, such as purifying the water, that wetlands silently provide for us."

  From now till March, the Park is holding the Bird Watching Festival 2013/14, which introduces the ecology of migratory birds through a wide range of guided tours, a thematic exhibition and workshops. Members of the public may visit the Park during Lunar New Year holidays and appreciate the beauty of wintering birds.

  For details of World Wetlands Day 2014 and other activities, please visit www.wetlandpark.gov.hk.

Ends/Saturday, January 25, 2014
Issued at HKT 12:31

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