Andy Cornish's Blog

Dr Andy Cornish was raised in Hong Kong, and gained a strong interest in wildlife through spending time in Pokfulam Country Park. He studied Zoology at Nottingham University in England, travelled extensively through Central America where he learnt to scuba dive, and later did his PhD on reef fishes at the University of Hong Kong. Since then, he worked for a year doing coral reef management for the government of American Samoa, and taught in the Dept. of Ecology and Biodiversity at the University of Hong Kong. He worked at WWF from 2005 to late 2012 as Conservation Director, and was responsible for four programmes: Climate, Footprint, Local Biodiversity and Regional Wetlands (including management of the Mai Po Nature Reserve). He remains involved in environmental issues on an independent basis.

Tai Tam Tuk Eco Educational Centre

A Timely Gem
September 8, 2013

The number of niche non-government environmental educational centres continues to rise, and a couple of weeks ago I had the pleasuse of being shown around one of the newest kids on the block - the Tai Tam Tuk Eco Educational Centre. Andy Niven, an avid diver and architect who has been heavily involved in supporting the establishment of the Centre - which opened last year - was my guide.
 
Tai Tam Tuk, at the back of Tai Tam bay is one of the few sleepy backwaters left on Hong Kong Island, and the Centre is well-situated just off the road and close to the sea. They offer a number of courses on sustainable development for students of all ages that take full advantage of the history and natural environment of Tai Tam Tuk, with its historic and imposing reservoir dam (completed in 1917), shallow inlets and mangroves. All kinds of mangrove residents were evident as Andy and I explored, from egrets to fiddler crabs and the juvenile fish that so typically call mangroves home in Hong Kong - Flathead mullet, Mangrove and Russell's snapper, Scat and several species of sea bream.
 
Marine conservation remains very much a work in progress in Hong Kong, compared to terrestrial conservation. For example, many species or groups of terrestrial species such as all birds and most mammals are protected from hunting, while no marine fish or invertebrates are, and there is certainly no hunting allowed in Country Parks - unlike the commercial fishing that unbelievably still blights our Marine Parks. Education is a critical tool for addressing the balance, as is the formulation of Hong Kong's first biodiversity action plan which is currently underway, and which the Tai Tam Tuk Eco Educational Centre has already incorporated into its marine biodiversity course. Bravo!  
 
In summary then, this new educational centre is perfectly situated - in space and time - to educating a next generation of marine enthusiasts on the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for our neck of the South China Sea. The trawling ban and current wave of reclamation to name two. Visting the Centre is by appointment only as they are not set up to receive casual walk-in visitors, but you can certainly explore the base of the dam, mangroves and inlets under your own steam (which is easiest to do at low-tide). 

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