Mangroves are unique inter-tidal wetlands largely confined to coastal regions between 30û north and south of the equator. The total worldwide mangrove area, estimated at about 180,000 km2, dominates approximately 75% of the world's coastline. The ecosystem has high primary productivity. It supports genetically diverse communities of terrestrial and aquatic plants and animals that have direct or indirect socioeconomic values.
Hong Kong used to be rich in mangrove resources until recent decades when they have been destroyed by reclamation and infrastructural development. Due to their ecological importance and their drastic deterioration caused by various environmental stresses, the Government commissioned the authors to conduct a three-year ( 1994-1997 ) comprehensive ecological study on the remaining mangrove stands of Hong Kong. The intention is to formulate a long-term conservation strategy for the mangrove ecosystem.
The present book is based on the findings of the aforementioned study. It describes 20 plant species and more than 60 animal species found in 44 mangrove stands of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. For each species, the occurrence and specific characteristics are clearly described, with coloured photographs and illustrations. Ecological adaptation and morphological information is specific to each mangrove plant species. A simple key is also presented to classify true mangrove plants, associate mangrove plants and other related plant species found in mangrove habitats. The significance of the mangrove ecosystem and the strategies suggested to conserve mangrove stands in Hong Kong are highlighted in this book.
We intend to make this book a colourful, user-friendly reference for school teachers, students and other interested parties who would like to know more about the mangrove ecosystem in Hong Kong. Knowing its conservation value, we hope that this book provides readers not only a better understanding of mangrove wetlands, but also helps elevate the consciousness of people about the urgent need to protect this threatened natural ecosystem.
The authors would like to express their appreciation to all who have assisted in the production of this book and in field studies, in particular, Prof. C. Y. Lu, Xiamen University, People's Republic of China. We would like to thank Mr. Jason K. F. Wong, Research Assistant, Dr. S. G. Cheung and his Ph.D. student, Mr. W. H. Wong at the City University of Hong Kong. The authors would also like to thank Mr. Desmond K. O'Toole and Elizabeth M. O'Toole for a critical reading of the manuscript and for providing helpful comments on the English and content of the book. Last but not least, we are grateful to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, especially Mr. Frank S. P. Lau, Mr. Richard P. K. Chan, Mr. Patrick C. C. Lai and Mr. T. W. Tam, for their advice, continual support and stimulating discussions. Without their assistance and financial support, the book could not have been published.
Nora Fung-yee TAM
City University of Hong Kong