From May 10-16, 2016, the State Forestry Administration, the Paulson Institute, the Lao Niu Foundation, and World Wide Fund Hong Kong hosted a wetland management training course for Chinese wetland management officials in Hong Kong’s Mai Po Nature Reserve. The Mai Po reserve is well known for its successful approach to wetlands protection. The 14 wetland management trainees, selected by the State Forestry Administration, came from all across China, including two from the State Forestry Administration, two from Chongming Dongtan Nature Reserve in Shanghai, three from the Jiangsu Province Forestry Department, two from the Zhejiang Province Forestry Department, two from the Hubei Province Forestry Department, and two from the Qinghai Forestry Department.
The Paulson Institute’s wetland program is introducing best practices to China’s wetlands managers, who are working to implement more efficient protection measures and stop further destruction of the coastal wetlands, which provide important ecosystems services to millions of people living along China’s coast.
The training course involved indoor lectures and discussion, and field studies carried out in several protected areas, including Mai Po, the Hong Kong Wetland Park, Sai Kung Country Park, and Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park.
The course content, which included both theory and practice, introduced comprehensive wetland management in general and coastal wetland management in particular. Indoor discussion included the importance of wetland and waterbirds, coastal wetland management principles, specific techniques employed in the Mai Po Nature Reserve, wetland monitoring and research, nature conservation in Hong Kong, as well as general environmental education and nature appreciation. In the participatory wetland management workshop, the participants were guided by the trainers to complete a course on wetland management, and strategies around environmental education and ecotourism.
The participants also presented their own wetland-related work experience.
The Paulson Institute invited Roy Lowe, a retired wildlife refuge manager from the U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Services, to deliver lectures on coastal wetland restoration and ecotourism. The talks and cases studies about the U.S. offered new perspectives and insights to the participants. “This was a very engaged group,” said Roy. “They asked lots of questions and expressed their appreciation for me being there.”
With financial support from the Lao Niu Foundation, this course was the first of a series this year. Two more courses will be held in Mai Po in September and October. Dr. Xianji Wen, Grace Lau, and other experts from WWF Hong Kong helped prepare and conduct the training course.