In mid-December almost our whole research group happily left the rainy Finland and headed to Shenzhen, China, to attend and present our work at the ESP9 (Ecosystem Service Partnership) conference. As Shenzhen is close to Hong Kong, we took the opportunity to visit some of the interesting ecosystem sights in Hong Kong, such as the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden in the heights of the more rural parts of the city, focusing on nature conservation and sustainable living.
After some adventuring in the 8-lane motorways of Hong Kong with a rental car we reached the Kadoorie park and made a plan on how to get the most out of the day. Ari and Jere were mostly interested in the tree conservation project and native plants while Anna and Hannele were happy to enjoy the beautiful orchids and other parts of the botanic garden, too. Luckily the park had a lot to offer.
Exotic vs native plants seemed to be the theme of the day (or the whole week?). Searching for the native plants we had to climb almost all the way up the hill (625 meters), but also on the way there was plenty to see and explore, and the hike was really nice. We recognized several familiar plants that we have at home in Finland, however Ari was able to tell that many of those plants are actually from southern parts of Africa and Middle America.
One of the most interesting parts of the park was the Fern Walk, introducing more than 130 (out of Hong Kong’s 293) different native ferns. We could see some truly impressive ferns that are among the most primitive plants, however many of them are considered endangered due to forest degradation.
Unfortunately the park did not offer much information on native plants in English. On top of the hill, however, was a large area of tree plantations as part of a larger conservation project that takes place during decades, with the purpose of replacing exotic trees with a mixture of native tree species. Native plants are more attractive to native wildlife and thus increase biodiversity in the area in several ways. We could see that altogether tens of thousands of different native trees had been planted in several rounds and during several years and, all in all, the area was quite impressive. Later in the evening this invoked intensive discussions on the differences between native plant conservation in Finland and Hong Kong.
You can read more on the forest conservation from the Kadoorie webpage: http://www.kfbg.org/eng/permanent-forest-plots-at-hong-kong-and-south-china.aspx
Stay tuned for more conference and China insights!
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