Hong Kong's nature treasure trove goes on display

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 June, 2012, 12:00am


Hong Kong's first biodiversity centre opened yesterday to show off the city's rich natural legacy.

'We chose this site to show how beautiful and diversified our nature is,' said Wendy Chan Li Po-shan, the senior supervisor of Wetland Park, during the opening ceremony.

'We wanted to show what we've done in the past 50 years in terms of wildlife protection.'

The Biodiversity Education Centre is located at the entrance to the Quarry Bay extension of Tai Tam Country Park. It is housed in Woodside, a red-brick Grade II historic property built in 1922, and has three galleries on the ground floor that feature the city's flora and fauna.

Some endangered species, such as the three-banded box turtle and the Hong Kong newt, are showcased in aquariums. A separate room shows a history of Hong Kong's ecological surveys.

The city has about 2,500 kilometres of natural streams, hundreds of kilometres of rugged coastline and extensive country parks. It is home to more than 300 native tree species and more than 230 butterfly species.

Schools will be the main visitors to the education centre, which will organise daily tours and public workshops at weekends. Secretary for the Environment Edward Yau Tang-wah said Hong Kong had much to offer the nature lover. 'It is such a small place and it still has more than 500 species of birds and over 50 species of mammals,' he said.

The centre is open every day except Tuesdays and admission is free. Its location - on Mount Parker Road at the start of the hiking trail to Tai Tam - is expected to draw in many curious visitors.

'We hope not only that schoolchildren will come here, but also that hikers will stop by,' said Yau.

Chan acknowledged there was still work to do to protect local endangered species such as the three-banded box turtle or the Romer's tree frog, whose habitats are shrinking through pollution, coastal development and other construction work.

'We hope the centre will help change the mindset of the younger generation,' she said.