Ecological Restoration Lab
We are a group of enthusiastic ecologists who are eager to apply our ecological knowledge in nature conservation. Lead by Dr. Billy Hau who is a native terrestrial ecologist from Hong Kong, our team do not only focus on ecological restoration research, but also in developing field based ecological training programems for students as well as the general public. The HKU Eco-Leaders Training Programme is our flagship education programme and many of the Eco-Leaders are now working as professional ecologists in NGOs, Hong Kong Government, universities and consultant companies. In recent years, building on our strength in ecological restoration, we have been extending our projects to cover urban biodiversity. Find out more about our work by looking at our Research Interest and Projects.
Most forests in tropical East Asia have been under severe threat from deforestation for decades. Hong Kong is an extreme example in tropical deforestation which was started more than a thousand years ago and Hong Kong was nearly 100% deforested several times in history. All existing forests (some 20%) are secondary in nature. Knowledge gained in Hong Kong in forest restoration could help other places in tropical East Asia to reverse the deforestation trend.
Whilst it is important to protect the last remaining wilderness areas for biodiversity conservation, conserving biodiversity in urban area generates new opportunities to restore the severely degraded biological diversity on the planet. We have been assisting the Government and private companies in Hong Kong in bringing back biodiversity to urban areas. This includes biodiversity assessments in urban sites to identify and recreate suitable habitats for plants, birds and butterflies. We have characterised tree and shrub species that are suitable to grow in urban environments and are attractive to wildlife in Hong Kong. We also provide educational resources in these projects for raising public awareness on urban biodiversity.
Deforestation in the past has pushed many species to the brink of extinction. Apart from improving the quality of forest habitats in degraded landscapes, we have been identifying taxa in need of conservation effort and subsequently taking actions in conserving these species.
City dewellers are often deprived of the opportunity to interact with nature. Hence, they lack interest in biodiversity. We are therefore providing training to our students in ecology and biodiversity such as field-based species identification courses on plants, birds, amphibians and reptiles, butterflies, dragonflies and freshwater fishes. We have also established the HKU Eco-Leaders Training Programme in 2005 to provide more systematic training for future leaders in environmental education.