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.
First impressions
January 28, 2013

Legislators have scuppered decent environmental initiatives before. By many reckonings, the new Legislative Council is so full of anti-government types that getting the green light for new policies is going to be a nightmare. So this afternoon I went to Legco to observe the new Panel of Environmental Affairs (EA Panel) in action, as the Environment Bureau set out their environmental initiatives for the coming year. 
Attending Legco sessions is easy and free, but rarely value for money entertainment. The $10 entry fee for the horse races is infinitely better on that score. But horses won't save the world so I soldiered through two and half hours at Legco to share the following with you.
The new legislators on the EA Panel are keen, and there are a lot of them. At past meetings you could be lucky if five members turned up, but today there were 18. All of whom spoke. Cyd Ho is the new Chairman and finding her feet in the role, but is a...

The hills are alive with monkeys
January 24, 2013

I came round a bend in the Tai Po Kau forest path earlier today, wondering which animal was making all the rustling noises. Several Rhesus macaques looked up at me, and the smaller ones moved off and into the bushes. While part of me was delighted, my last encounters with these primates has been in the hills of Kowloon, where hundreds line the roads generally being a nusiance as people continue to feed them.
This turned out to be totally different though, and I had a magical half an hour as a troop of 40 or so slowly worked their way past me, behaving as wild monkeys should. They were feeding on wild fruits, preening themselves, calling between young and older animals, and keeping a distance from me.
I felt transported to an exotic land, it seemed more of a fit than an encounter in one of the most densely populated regions on Earth. But that's the wonder of Hong Kong for you, and why our natural areas are so worth protecting!

Andy Cornish and Michael Lau say we can rally round a biodiversity plan
January 18, 2013

This article was published yesterday in the SCMP ...
The proposed beach at Lung Mei, incinerator at Shek Kwu Chau, expansion of the Tseung Kwan O landfill into Clear Water Bay Country Park and a potential third runway at the airport have all provoked strong reactions from environmental groups and sectors of the public concerned about their impact on wildlife and the environment.
This is despite some of these projects having undergone environmental impact assessments, which have been accepted by the Environmental Protection Department.
Advocates for new infrastructure, housing and the like mutter that the green groups are anti-development whiners. This glosses over the real reason opinions are divided: there is no common understanding on what our cityscape should look like, or what biodiversity...

First reactions
January 16, 2013

A few weeks ago I shared my expectations for the Chief Executive’s delayed policy address, and the environment. Today, on the afternoon of the address, I had the opportunity to attend a briefing by KS Wong and Christine Loh on the nuts and bolts of the environmental components of the policy address. Here is my immediate reaction.
The environment features prominently – far more so than any address since 1997 at least – and finally is being mainstreamed into government thinking. At the very start of the address which sets out the future vision we have this gem: “If we are willing to go the extra mile, we can make Hong Kong a more liveable city with lush countryside, fresh air and a clean environment.” Hallelujah! 
The BIG one – $10 billion in subsidies to get 80,000 Euro III and worse diesel commercial vehicles off the road, which would reduce air pollution particulates by...

Next step – ban commercial fishing in marine parks
January 8, 2013

It was many years in the making, but the ban on all trawling is now finally in effect as of the 1st January The marine ecosystem has started the recovery process, and in years to come we will truly reap the rewards: from increased fish catches, to clearer waters and regeneration of coral communities, and the opportunity to swim in waters teaming with fish once again.
The decision by the Food and Health Bureau to ban trawling in one of the most overfished waters in the world was courageous and globally significant, and deserves far greater recognition and applause. It came at quite a price, HK$ 1.7 billion (negotiated up from 1 billion by the fishing community), and a loss of jobs estimated at up to 1,200 people from the 400 trawlers that will likely cease fishing.
Unfortunately, it appears that certain people are trying to make hay while the sun shines. According to a recent article in The Standard, in the past year AFCD has...

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