It was a truly precious experience to be engaged in the mangrove seedlings plantation work aiming at restoring wetland ecosystem functions and alleviating climate change. Contrary to my expectations, planting the mangrove seedlings proved to be a much tougher and more technical task than anticipated. Together with volunteers and workers from different centres, we began by carefully separating the seedlings one by one before placing them into the holes we had dug. Ensuring that the seedling stems were buried around 5 centimetres beneath the mud and maintaining a distance of at least 1.5 meters between each seedling required meticulous attention. However, the most challenging part was navigating through the moist and sinking mud, which resulted in me getting stuck a few times. Thankfully, my helpful colleagues were there to lend a hand, and together, we managed to plant 200 mangrove seedlings within just one hour!
Following the plantation work, I had the opportunity to engage in conversations with other workers to gain insight into their feelings and motivations. Many of them expressed their deep enjoyment of the experience, as they had not previously been exposed to conservation work. One of the workers even revealed that she had always been a fan of nature, and the participation of her team's colleagues further encouraged her to take part in this activity. Overall, despite the heat and the challenges we encountered, we found this project to be both meaningful and fun. Working alongside a group of passionate individuals whom I had not previously connected with made this volunteer work even more interesting.
During one of our conversations, as we planted the seedlings, one colleague wondered aloud about how this wetland would transform over the next decade. "Will it become a forest after 10 years?" He pondered. To this, another colleague jokingly replied, "You will see a building here!" While this remark was meant humorously, it unfortunately reflects the reality of our times, where increasing population and development needs often take precedence over conservation efforts. However, it is crucial to remember that conservation offers long-term and comprehensive benefits, even if its contributions may seem small in the grand scheme of things. This project not only highlights the ecological values of natural habitats but also utilizes nature-based solutions to address climate change. Most importantly, it prompts us to reflect upon the real-life situations and current practices our city has adopted.
All in all, participating in the activity was a truly eye-opening experience. By actively engaging in the restoration of mangrove ecosystems, we are making a positive impact on the environment and contributing to the fight against climate change. This project serves as a reminder of the importance of conservation and the need to prioritize nature-based solutions. Through collective efforts, we can protect and preserve our natural habitats for generations to come.
Placement Site: World Wildlife (WWF), Hong Kong