Hong Kong named the most biodiverse city in Asia after global nature challenge

Hong Kong might be small, but it’s big on biodiversity. Just look at some government figures that paint a rich environmental picture: more than 3,300 species of plants, 57 species of mammals, more than 540 species of birds, 198 species of freshwater fishes, 86 species of reptiles, 24 species of amphibians, 236 species of butterflies and 123 species of dragonflies. Impressive indeed.

Conservation in Hong Kong: citizen scientists enlisted to record and safeguard city’s amazing biodiversity

Hong Kong is 1 per cent the size of Guangdong province, but has one-third of the amphibian species. It also has one-third of the bird species in China.

To better understand and document this, Hong Kong competed with 67 cities worldwide – from New York, Tokyo and London to Kuala Lumpur – in the first international City Nature Challenge.

Held from April 27 to 30, the event encouraged aspiring citizen scientists and nature fans to observe and submit photos of plants, animals, and fungi using the free App iNaturalist.

In total 759 people took part, recording 20,348 observations (pictures taken) and identifying 2,955 species, including rare and endemic species such as the incense tree, the very rare Romer’s tree frog, and migratory birds including the Chinese egret and black-faced spoonbill.

More action urged on potentially invasive alien wildlife in Hong Kong

Shaun Martin, the Hong Kong co-ordinator of the City Nature Challenge, says the event drew parallels with Hong Kong’s policy on biodiversity.

“The City Nature Challenge’s objectives closely mirror action points laid out in Hong Kong’s Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (released by the Environment Bureau in December 2016) especially areas that refer to promoting community involvement and improving knowledge. Events like this and other ‘BioBlitz’ style activities can really help the government reach its objectives.”

The winners of the City Nature Challenge were San Francisco Bay Area with a clean sweep across the categories yet the organisers pointed out that Hong Kong’s results were inspiring.

“Out of the 124 Research Grade observations of species never before recorded on iNaturalist, 57 came from Hong Kong” says Alison Young from California Academy of Sciences. “This means that Hong Kong observed almost half of species never before recorded on iNaturalist”.

See Hong Kong’s details/results here

See the world results here

This article Hong Kong named the most biodiverse city in Asia after global nature challenge first appeared on South China Morning Post

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