Government must do more to protect Mai Po's rare visitors

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 November, 2010, 12:00am

Hong Kong is small and densely populated. It has been called many things, including a concrete jungle.

With its massive transport network, congestion problems and high levels of pollution, it is difficult to believe that we are visited by so many flocks of migrating birds. Many of them can be found at Mai Po Nature Reserve and it should be close to the top of the government's agenda to protect this valuable ecosystem.

Sadly, with so many other issues to deal with, such as an ageing population, skyrocketing property prices and plummeting popularity of the chief executive, officials have done little to help Mai Po.

Every year, these birds attract not only locals, but many tourists from all over the world. They help to boost Hong Kong's gross national product.

Even if the reserve was not a tourist attraction, it would be crucially important for it to continue to exist and to flourish.

Ensuring a healthy environment in Hong Kong is inextricably linked to the biodiversity of all species including these rare birds.

The government should appreciate there is a problem at Mai Po and not show indifference.

The Conservancy Association has undertaken regular investigations and research on the ecosystem of the nearby mudflat areas and Ramsar site.

These are the critical habitats and food source of migratory birds like the rare spoonbills.

There has been a significant shrinking of the mudflat area. Green groups have highlighted deteriorating conditions, but the government has denied there is a serious problem.

It simply describes the drop in the number of species visiting Mai Po is an annual fluctuation.

I can understand it if officials say they have more urgent matters to attend to, but they should not deny that there are problems that have to be addressed.

Dora Cheong Hin-yue, Tsuen Wan