Conservation inc Mai Po access should not be for elite

Conservation inc Mai Po access should not be for elite

An email I sent WWF HK and some people, in response to discussion on infrastructure work underway at Mai Po. See if any hkbws members find at all valid:

I used to think WWF HK membership pricey, at HK$400 for year - partly for me, but also surely very costly for many Hong Kong people.
Startled at the latest price for this; though I’m told this was from outgoing CEO, who previously had a very comfortable salary by standards of many here.

Not to discuss here; but just to highlight how it seems to me conservation is something for richer people.
- while it actually affects each and every one of us; indeed, less well off people tend to suffer more from weather events, rising prices etc.

And to lead to comment re the Mai Po discussion:

Widths of footpaths etc relatively trivial, when I believe much bigger issue is highly restricted access to Mai Po.

Given this, only tiny numbers of Hong Kong people have the chance to visit, appreciate nature there.

Treated a little like a prized museum collection.
And yes, I know that AFCD at least was keen on keeping it that way; idea that Wetland Park is for many visitors - yet it is also far far far far worse for wildlife.

I remember first arriving in Hong Kong, was used to various reserves in the UK, and found it very surprising to walk around Mai Po and often encounter no one, or just a handful of people. [When not encountering school groups.]

In a naive view - as AFCD I think! - keeping human numbers so small benefits wildlife.
Of course, understandable; and it’s very nice to have a reserve almost to yourself.

Against which, visitors bring benefits too; like can be source of revenue, can help report issues.

But also, more people who know and love a place, boosts support for conservation.
- Tai Long Wan some years ago, for instance.
Along with broader conservation support; for instance, it is also deeply sad that protecting Mai Po hasn’t led to more wetland reserves around Hong Kong.

Also, seeing the Oligarchs’ Hong Kong Foundation [oops, typo: Our Hong Kong Foundation] now advocating housing construction projects around Inner Deep Bay.
- even in these days, public opinion has a bit of impact; and the more wetland “fans”, the better.

Anyway, my two cents for the day.
- and lest anyone hold up hands in horror at notions of Disneyland style crowds, that’s not at all what I believe in, nor what is possible.
I’ve earlier talked with Ken Searle, Lew Young and others; Ken told me of ideas for a circular walk open to many people, allowing people to experience part of Mai Po. Something like this.
May remain just a pipe dream anyway, partly if opposition within AFCD, easier to just say No… [and “Yes” to the Oligarchs]
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Yes. I believe access should be easier, the real problem about wetland park is that visitors are not aware of HKBWS guidelines, causing them to wear flashy clothing, talking loudly, etc. The real solution seems to educate visitors about birding guidelines, not simply by blocking the reserve.


This is Hong Kong (and China now) not European, serious problem will come if many ppl access to MPNR...
Actually you don't need to pay money to get the MP permit,
but I will say the WWF membership is crazy expensive now after the increase this year, so it stop many birder from boardwalk permit


MPNR is situated at the 'border' of Hong Kong. It is quite a sensitive place where people are restricted visiting there unless you obtain a permit from the Hong Kong Police. Yes, the permit to access Mai Po Board Walk, Northern and Southern Floating Hide is issued by the Police. I guess WWF acts like a middleman who collects members' application and pass to the Police. I would not say MPNR serves only the elite (at least I am not) but only because its special location.


Sorry, long time no response; hadn't noticed there had been replies till recently.

"elite" comment includes that HK$1800 per year membership fee for WWF Hong Kong. Price hike coincided with Dan Bradshaw becoming chairman, and not sure if he was key to decision - a chap who perhaps has plenty of money, thanks in large part to iron ore mining, and maybe not really in touch with regular folk?? WWF page says he's an avid birder; hope so, and maybe lots of hkbws members often meet and chat with him.

Yeah, would be issues if more people to visit; but these are not insurmountable. Other wetland reserves in the world have plenty more visitors, still manage to have significant numbers of birds etc.
And if more visitors, should be to certain areas; enough for regular people to enjoy, while more avid birders and others can access additional areas, notably through the fence.

That latter being the closed area; otherwise not such an issue? After all, Fung Lok Wai touted for development, real close to border.
- and it's partly with Fung Lok Wai etc etc being threatened that more people, more fans/supporters of Mai Po would surely be a good thing. I noted Tai Long Wan case.

Remember, too, there is a HK$347.86 million infrastructure project underway [oddly, infrastructure only bricks and concrete, not the ponds so vital for wildlife].
- yet weird situation Mai Po is so strapped for cash for management work that tries price gouging with outrageous fees [like HK$3600 for one local to enter for a tour...], still got begging bowl out and getting birders to give up time and effort for bird race, while potential solution in more visitors is rejected, and even some decent folk have permit applications rejected [in turn rejecting easy money - HK$500 from Canadian couple who wanted to visit recently]

I've done an article with some looking at reserves elsewhere in the world, attempting comparisons to Mai Po: Mai Po: Mai Po Marshes Upgrade Project: Big Money, Few Visitors

Mai Po reserve 40 years old this year; younger and smaller London Wetland Centre attracts far more visitors [I very much doubt they are all saintly, silent, dressed in camouflage clothing etc], while still has nationally important numbers of some winter ducks.
And yes, there's no ideal solution; but current situation not best for long term I believe.
I'd love to see some sort of shift to more visitors to part of Mai Po, along with also visiting some other parts of Deep Bay wetland, with management of fishponds and some sort of "nature tourism", as a bulwark against plans to smother parts with home for elderly, fancy housing etc.

- and can admit that on personal level, I can greatly enjoy being out in areas where it's just me and the birds, or me and v few others.  But development plans loom

[ Last edited by wmartin at 13/03/2023 17:53 ]
Hong Kong Outdoors enjoying and protecting wild Hong Kong. DocMartin includes H5N1 and wild birds info