Guardians of the Pearl River Delta
Nestled deep within one of the many bays of the Pearl River delta, a rare patch of mangrove forest can be found hidden between the towering skyscrapers on the Hong Kong–Shenzhen border. Egrets laze in the sun as small crabs scuttle at their feet, a mountainous skyline of construction cranes looming behind them.
Mangroves are small trees that grow along the coastlines of more than 100 countries in tropical and subtropical regions. They were once widespread on the Pearl River delta and around the inlets and islands of the neighbouring Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR). Now there are only about 60 small patches remaining in Hong Kong – each of varying sizes and levels of protection.
After years of degradation, a recent survey conducted by Dr Stefano Cannicci from Hong Kong University’s Integrated Mangrove Ecology Lab found that mangroves are now making a gradual recovery in the region - albeit not across the board.