Mui Tsz Lam (right) and Kop Tong (left)
Forest village - Mui Tsz Lam and Kop Tong sustainable village programme
Mui Tsz Lam and Kop Tong are two upland Hakka villages located in the northeastern part of New Territories with over 300 years of history. As villagers emigrated away in the past few decades, these once vibrant farming communities embedded in nature have been fading away gradually. Biodiversity and the associated ecosystem services and values in the area will continue to deplete if timely active management is not put in place.
This programme, built upon the principle of environmental stewardship, aims to conserve, revitalise and enhance the natural, cultural and landscape values of Mui Tsz Lam and Kop Tong. The villages will be revived as “Forest Villages”, a common term that describes settlements with forests as the dominant and provisioning habitat, through restoration of farmlands, enhancement of habitats, and adaptive repurposing of village assets. A collaborative and participatory approach will be employed to engage stakeholders—villagers, members of non- profits, scientists, architects, artists and interested citizens—in an array of conservation activities through which they will acquire knowledge, skills, and commit to taking up the role as guardians of the forest villages.
This is a first-of-its-kind project in Hong Kong that focuses on upland forest conserving both natural and cultural landscapes as an integrated and holistic living heritage.
The programme aims to:
- Restore mosaics of land uses of “Forest Village Ecosystem” to enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services
- Conserve upland forest species and protect their habitats
- Formulate sustainable management strategies and promote an adaptive repurposing of tangible and intangible rural assets to support the sustainable development of the villages
- Foster a sense of community stewardship and facilitate collective local actions among stakeholders in nature and cultural conservation
A slew of conservation measures, including habitat diversification and enhancement, food source provision, and in-situ conservation measures for target groups and species, will be implemented. The habitat management measures will integrate with organic and eco-friendly crop production to generate income for the project and to provide extra incentives to the local community for playing the role of stewards of the environment. The programme will undertake an ecological baseline study, biodiversity monitoring, citizen scientists programmes, and tracking surveys to create an inventory for biological resources and ecosystem services; information in the inventory will help inform the development of sustainable management strategies for Mui Tsz Lam, Kop Tong, and other similar ‘’Forest Villages’’ in Hong Kong.
The rich Hakka cultural assets associated with the site, such as indigenous Hakka history and culture, vernacular architecture, terrace farming landscapes, traditional knowledge and folklore plants will be studied and translated into different public events for public education and appreciation. To enable deeper appreciation and sustainable use of these cultural and natural resources, a socio-economic model will be developed.
Public Education and Community Engagement
Engagement events, workshops and training will be organised to encourage and empower interested citizens to serve as village volunteers to take part in conservation work of the natural and cultural--both tangible and intangible—rural capital. Training will focus on interdisciplinary subjects and approaches, such as conservation theories and practice of cultural landscape and sustainable agriculture, will also be developed under the programme.
The programme aims to broaden and expand the rural stewardship community who is willing to contribute to the conservation and management of natural and cultural assets in the villages. A corps of committed participants will be encouraged and empowered to contribute to conservation works, not just in villages, but in the wider natural environment in Hong Kong. More people will be attracted to visit and protect rural areas and rethink their relationship with nature.
This collaborative programme is initiated and managed by HKU-CCSG. HKU-CCSG will steer the programme planning and development, and coordinate the work between the Co-organiser and Assisting Bodies including Association for Sha Tau Kok Culture and Ecology (ASTKCE), Dr. Michael Lau, Outdoor Wildlife Learning Hong Kong (OWLHK), Ms. Human Ip and Hong Kong Tree Society. Please visit the “Team” page for details.