Whole catchment management approach for sustainable agriculture and biodiversity and hydrological conservation
About the Implementing organization
Name: Indigenous Hakka community of Lai Chi Wo Village
Year of establishment: 2013
Type of organization: Indigenous group or organization
Lai Chi Wo is a site with high habitat and species diversity, rich in freshwater resource and has a long history of human-nature interaction. The Programme adopts a whole catchment management approach for biodiversity and hydrological conservation. Biodiversity monitoring has been regularly conducted on 9 taxa (plants, birds, butterflies, dragonflies, amphibians, reptiles, freshwater invertebrates, freshwater fishes, and mammals) to understand the interaction between wildlife and human activity. Continuous hydrology monitoring on streamflow velocity, cross section area and water quality parameters is conducted. Rain gauges, weather station, water level sensors and turbidity sensors are installed to collect data on the long period rainfall, water level data and weather. Monitoring results help investigate spatial-temporal hydrological changes and its relationship with local climate. These provide information on the effects of different types of farming activities and habitat management on the local biodiversity.
The Programme has also started an eco-forestry and species reintroduction research. A nursery for eco-forestry is set up in the field and a trial of ecological restoration of the Incense Tree (Aquilaria sinensis) which suffers from illegal logging is conducted. To restore the locally extinct rice fish (Oryzias curvinotus) population, some rice fishes have been captured from a nearby village for captive breeding for a reintroduction trial of the species to Lai Chi Wo.
Forests / Coasts / Wetlands / Rivers / Wildlife
Type of Action
Protection / Restoration / Sustainable use / Awareness and education
Sustainable Development Element
Food security / Water security / Disaster risk reduction / Climate action
The biodiversity data collected are important for formulating ecological management plan to conserve the ecosystem and facilitate sustainable use of natural resources. At the site preparation stage of the agricultural rehabilitation, two individuals of the Water Fern (Ceratopteris thalictroides), which is considered a rare species in Hong Kong and a Class II nationally protected species, were found during the biodiversity survey. The Water Ferns were then transplanted outside the farming area to preserve the species.
The biodiversity monitoring shows that Lai Chi Wo’s biodiversity is comparable to the top 10 ecological hotspots in Hong Kong. Since the resumption of paddy farming, the cumulated number of amphibian and dragonfly species recorded has increased from 7 to 9 and from 38 to 54 respectively. Some uncommon birds have been recorded. The Programme is also exploring the feasibility of eco-forestry and species reintroduction at Lai Chi Wo. Results of the trials are to be seen.
Sustainable Development Impacts
Data collected from the monitoring provides information on the relationship between farming activities the environmental condition. Hydrology monitoring provides data for formulating strategies to cope with climate change impacts on agriculture. It is an important measure for tackling hydrological issues such as flooding and potential seasonal drought in the Lai Chi Wo catchment. It provides information which facilitates better farming and irrigation planning and is useful for enhancing food security. For example, seed lotus has been strategically selected to be cultivated on plot with challenges in irrigation and drainage management.
With the biodiversity and hydrology monitoring data recorded, Lai Chi Wo will become the first site in Hong Kong to provide essential reference data for other catchment areas in Hong Kong and in similar biogeographic regions.
Findings of the Programme on the linkages among suspended sediment, turbidity, flow conditions, farming and river biodiversity in Lai Chi Wo can be used to inform drainage basin management in other areas.
The whole catchment management approach for biodiversity and hydrological conservation can be applied to other rivers in Hong Kong, including the conservation of the ecologically important streams.
At a regional scale, the whole catchment management approach for biodiversity and hydrological conservation can also be adopted for cross-administrative management of larger river basins.
The biodiversity and hydrology monitoring can be replicated for the conservation of other places in Hong Kong and in similar biogeographic regions. To facilitate the replication, protocols of the biodiversity monitoring and hydrology monitoring will be published. As for species reintroduction trials, they can be replicated for other locally extinct species in Hong Kong and in other areas.
With the initial data collected from Lai Chi Wo, HKU has been granted government fund to conduct a bigger scale research to study the impact of suspended sediment, turbidity and streamflow conditions on river biodiversity in the Lai Chi Wo catchment. The research project will provide a wide range of training and education opportunities on river biodiversity for school teachers and students, NGOs as well as the wider Hong Kong community. Research findings will be made publicly available. Academic journal papers will be published, sharing the research methodology, results and findings internationally.
Share this solution: