Visit to bamboo wholesalers

Written on . Posted in Biodiversity, Heritage

With most research about Hong Kong bamboo scaffolding dating from the late 1990s,  Andy and I decide to pay a visit to the bamboo wholesalers to see what we can find out.

Toby, our long-suffering contractor, tells us we should just put our order in with the scaffolders.  How, exactly, are we planning to get the poles, by ourselves, to Tai Tam?  We persist.  He eventually sends us a photo of the car mechanics opposite.  The address on Google Maps points to a spot on a long road through New Territories with nothing on it, next to Tai Mo Shan, Hong Kong’s highest mountain.

With comfort knowing that nothing is more than 30 minutes from Central, we set off towards deepest Shek Kong.  It is sunny, almost T-shirt weather, not like December at all.

Six lane motorways and high rise buildings give way to a busy country road lined with half built luxury looking “village” houses alongside junk yards, tangled telegraph poles, and road works bollards.  No road numbers.

Then around the corner, a corrugated iron yard with stacks and stacks of bamboo poles standing in neat upright bundles.  There is a wide green gate with big red calligraphy letters fronted by an artful clump of yellow and green striped bamboo.  Must be it.

The yard is around the size of a basketball court.  There is an old speedboat in one corner, next to a papaya tree.  There is home cured bacon hanging out in the sun.  And bamboo poles everywhere.  Taller than a house, and varying colours of green and brown.

We find an elderly man and woman in the small office having lunch.  They’re both wearing down jackets, the way that Hong Kong people insist on at the merest hint of under 20 degrees C.  She comes out, walking with a cane.

I try to explain.  Well… we built a bamboo jungle gym.  You know, get the kids to experience bamboo.  It’s so amazing.  It’s all about biodiversity education.  Our scaffolders get all their bamboo from you.  We have all these questions.  She looks skeptical.  “Are you here to buy bamboo or what?”

I struggle with the phone and finally find an image of the jungle gym.  Wouldn’t it be great to put these up in different schools, at the flower show, on a beach?  Then everyone can have a chance to play and get to know bamboo.  You see, we do environmental education…

She considers.  “You’re in Tai Tam? You tell those Scouts they need to get over here soon.  Big order from them, got the poles all straightened out, my customers for a long time…”  It turns out the Scouts do a big camp every few years and order a job lot.  Mrs Mak (“like McDonald’s”) likes the Scouts.  She’s seen kids who joined the camp, now grown up, and coming back for more bamboo for their kids.

Mrs Mak’s bamboo comes from Guangxi in China.  They are cut, transported by boat, then stored outdoors to dry, although for how long “it depends on the sun, the rain”.  There is no other treatment required for bamboo scaffolding.  When the bamboo is brown it is ready.

I recognise the Mao Juk 毛竹 (Phyllostachys pubescens) and Ko Juk 篙竹 (Bambusa pervariabilis).  Mao Juk being thicker, with ridged nodes, Ko Juk slender, both around eight metres tall.  Only two species of bamboo are used for scaffolding in Hong Kong, although around 60 species of bamboo grow here.  There is also fir, for structural support, and thinner bamboo which could be used for fencing, and bamboo baskets, brooms, and ladders.

A buyer comes in and heads straight for the Scout stack.  Mrs Mak fends them off, no no, not those!  We hear a quote for $13 per pole of the Ko Juk.  The poles are tied in bundles of five.  He starts loading onto a truck.  One truck takes around 60 bundles, or 300 poles.

We ask how much is a Mao Juk.  “Well, I would charge your types a different amount… the scaffolders are coming in all the time to buy, you know.  $25?  Hardly! You are looking at $50-60 each.”

What about the quality, do you have different grades?  “That was before, we used to have 甲乙兵 (Chinese for A, B and C).  But now, who would want the Grade Bs and Cs, if someone buys all the As?”  Turns out the bamboo comes bundled in fives from China already.

And how about the age, doesn’t it have to age for a few years before it’s ready?  Mrs Mak says there’s no difference now, it’s cut as soon as it grows high enough, no waiting for 3-4 years anymore.  It’s not as solid nowadays.

“Foreigners are so happy when they see the bamboo.  A buyer came in from US and bought hundreds.  Thought they were beautiful.  Why?  They haven’t got any over there, have they?  That buyer… his order went moldy in transit… Well, who knew they would get stuck so long in transit.”

For all the eco-friendliness of bamboo scaffolding it turns out that none of it is recycled.  Some can be reused.  But mostly the scaffolders pay for it to be taken away.  And then it gets sent to the landfills.

Another truck comes in.  They eye the nicely straightened Scout poles. “No, not selling those!”.

We decide we need some Mao Juk.  It’s about biodiversity, isn’t it.  We carefully choose an offcut chunk of Mao Juk that can just about fit into a car and try to pay for it.  “No no, just take it, present…”

In the name of biodiversity education, we ask, can we have some of that yellow striped stuff in front?  “That’s the Governments! They planted it to stop people building out… can’t stand it!”  So if someone sawed off a pole that’s fine is it? “Nothing to do with us…”

Fuk Cheong Bamboo Suppliers
403 Kam Tin Public Road, Shek Kong, Yuen Long, Hong Kong

Bamboo scaffold wholesaler Hong Kong

Yellow striped bamoo

Bamboo baskets

Green bamboo scaffolding

Bamboo scaffolding Ko Juk

Loading up bamboo

Mao Juk

Visit to Shek Kong 5

Special workshop for AFCD Biodiversity Festival 2016: Bamboo Biodiversity Jungle Gym

Written on . Posted in Biodiversity

Bamboo biodiversity jungle gym

Bamboo scaffolding is everywhere in Hong Kong but what do you know about this amazing resource?

We are working with a third generation, Hong Kong, bamboo scaffolding firm, and Playright, the play and children’s advocacy NGO, to build a pop-up jungle gym and this workshop will explore the biodiversity values of bamboo through play-based activities.  Climbing encouraged!

This workshop is part of Hong Kong Biodiversity Festival 2016, “Connecting with Nature” held between Oct – Dec 2016, with 130+ different biodiversity education and conservation programmes offered by over 40 participating organisations including government, universities, business sector and NGOs.  Our workshop is supported by AFCD’s Biodiversity Subvention Fund.

What’s next?  Keep watch for the first Hong Kong Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (BSAP), under the International Convention on Biological Diversity, to be launched by the Environment Bureau and AFCD by 2016 year end.

Date: Throughout Dec 2016 (extended to 8 Jan 2017)
Time: 2 hours
Suitable for: Primary and Lower Secondary Students
Content: Creativity exercises; biodiversity treasure hunt on and around a jungle gym created by a Hong Kong bamboo scaffold team; bamboo den building; bamboo model making
Capacity: 30 per session
Cost: FREE
Enrolment: Group appointment, schools will have priority. Email to info@taitamtuk.org

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WWF Coastal Watch「育養海岸」活動- 19 June 2016 (Sunday)

Written on . Posted in Biodiversity, Events, Marine conservation, Upcoming Events

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現在誠邀您參與我們在2016年舉辦的第二個公民科學(Citizen Science)活動-Coastal Watch「育養海岸」,內容包括生態及海洋垃圾調查+清理行動+BBQ

世界自然基金會香港分會(WWF)主辦的「育養海岸」計劃是香港首個大型公民科學普查活動,延續2012年膠粒事件的海洋保育精神,旨在搜集海洋垃圾和生物多樣性資訊,助政府制定長遠有效的海洋保育政策。在2014/15的活動中,已經有超過1000位義工在全港34個海岸地點參與計劃。今次活動是由科學家Maegen與保促進會的可持續發展專家帶領,目的是保護大潭的紅樹林。「育養海岸」是一個兩年的計劃,每半年於各個海岸地點搜集數據,今次是大潭最後一次的「育養海岸」活動。

招募對象: 修讀相關環境保護學科或對此議題有興趣的大專學生(包括IVE、各大學或院校學生)
名額:   25位
日期:   2016年6月19日(日)
時間:   13:30 -17:30
(13:30-16:00 生態及海洋垃圾調查+清理行動, 可參考6月天文台潮汐預報, 橫瀾島潮汐低於0.9m)
(16:00-17:30 BBQ)
地點:   大潭SSSI具特殊科學價值地點+ 大潭篤生態教育中心 ( 交通方法 )
內容:   紅樹林生態及海洋垃圾調查+清理行動+BBQ
費用:   全免

備註:

1. 當日會需要經過可能高於30cm深的小溪,請穿著合適的衣物和水鞋/堅固的密封鞋
2. 請帶備替換衣物
3. 可帶備防水袋以保護貴重物品如智能電話、相機等
4. 建議塗抹太陽油、戴帽及多喝水

報名方法: 請於2016年6月12日(日)或之前,填妥網上報名表格(http://goo.gl/forms/EwDi0FfIW1UjlUlK2),我們會盡快通知您是否獲選參與活動,先到先得。
歡迎邀請身邊朋友參與!  如有任何問題,歡迎電郵(bel@taitamtuk.org)查詢。

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We are now having a chance to explore Tai Tam SSSI – a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) with diverse terrestrial and marine habitats, including HK island’s last mangrove. Please join our second citizen science event for 2016, Survey + Cleanup + BBQ at Tai Tam! 

WWF’s Coastal Watch programme is HK’s first large-scale citizen science survey providing the EPD/AFCD data on marine debris and biodiversity after the 2012 plastic pellet crisis.  To obtain accurate picture of the marine litter problem around Hong Kong,1000+ people surveyed 34 coastal areas throughout HK in 2014-15.  This site action focuses on the protected mangrove area in Tai Tam led by Team Scientist Maegen with sustainability experts from Green Council HK. It’s the fourth and final survey of the two-year project and results will be released at the end of 2016.

Target: Students studied environmental related field or students who feel interested in environmental issues
Quota: 25
Date: 19 Jun (Sun), 2016
Time: 13:30 – 17:30
(13:30 -16:00 clean up + survey, predicted tide lower than 0.9 m, see June tide tables of Waglan Island)
(16:00 -17:30 BBQ)
Location:  Tai Tam SSSI + Tai Tam Tuk Eco Education Centre  (transportation)
Content: Mangrove scientific survey + cleanup + BBQ after
Cost: FREE

Remark:

1. Please wear suitable boots/sturdy closed-toe shoes and clothing as we will cross the stream and water level may reach 30 cm or higher.
2. Please bring spare clothes.
3. Please prepare water-proof bag to keep your own belongings like smartphone or camera.
4. Sunscreen, hats and drinking water are highly recommended.

Application: Please apply here (http://goo.gl/forms/EwDi0FfIW1UjlUlK2) to confirm your space by 11 June (Sun). First-come-first-served, friends welcome.  Looking forward to seeing you in the event!Please free feel to contact us(bel@taitamtuk.org) if you have any questions.

 

HKBioBlitz wins ECF funding!

Written on . Posted in Biodiversity

The Environment and Conservation Fund of HKSAR has approved HK’s first large scale BioBlitz!

We are holding the event on 24-25 October 2015 in Tai Tam, HK with support from the University of Hong Kong Swire Institute of Marine Science, Civic Exchange, Bristol Natural History Consortium (UK), National Geographic Young Explorer- HK Explorers Initiative and many other organisations.

A BioBlitz is a 24-hour race to record as many species as possible in a specified area similar to WWF-HK’s famous Big Bird Race.

As well as collecting valuable species information, a BioBlitz aims to engage the community to explore nature and create awareness about their local wildlife. School groups can take part too by joining expert guided explorations and activities before the race begins.

ECF aims to promote individual behavioural and lifestyle changes to protect the environment and achieve sustainable development, specifically action projects which will make a real difference to HK’s environment. Priority themes include conservation of biodiversity in particular marine conservation.

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Capacity building on horseshoe crabs

Written on . Posted in Biodiversity, Marine conservation

6 March 2015 / Dr. Paul Shin and Dr. S.G. Cheung, Associate Professors of the Department of Biology and Chemistry, City University Hong Kong kindly met with Vickie and Jenna to build capacity on horseshoe crab surveying of Tai Tam this coming summer.

Horseshoe crabs are known as “living fossils” first appearing some 450 million years ago in the Ordovician era- well before the dinosaurs! There are now 4 species worldwide and in Hong Kong you can find two, the Chinese horseshoe crab (Tachypleus tridentatus) and Mangrove horseshoe crab (Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda).

Asian horseshoe crabs are listed as IUCN Data Deficient but the IUCN Horseshoe Crab Specialist Group established in 2012 is making progress towards revising their Red List Status. This is needed to form an effective international conservation management strategy, see this 2013 article.

After thorough discussion about our local substrate and geography we agreed on a suitable survey strategy. After that we were privileged to be given a tour of the lab including the crab tracking technology!

This is a citizen science-friendly survey, interested schools email us if you’d like to get involved. We can’t wait to share what we find!

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TTT joins Wetland Link International

Written on . Posted in Biodiversity, ESD, Water

Tai Tam Tuk Eco Education Centre has become the newest member of Wetland Link International!

We are Hong Kong’s third member, after Mai Po Wildlife Education Centre and Nature Reserve, and Hong Kong Wetland Park. Read our WLI profile here (Chinese version here).

What is WLI?
The Wetland Link International (WLI- pronounced ‘wellie’) programme is a global network of more than 350 wetland education centres, first set up in 1991. WLI is endorsed by the RAMSAR Convention and coordinated by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) UK.

WLI was created to help organisations and governments develop CEPA (Communication, Education and Public Awareness) at wetland sites through wetland education centres.

What is a wetland education centre?
They bring people and wildlife together for the benefit of both.

They offer numerous opportunities for CEPA activities, formal (schools, universities) and non-formal (general public) learning.

They can be visitor facilities on wetland sites, environmental education centres, field study centres, zoos, museums, community-based projects and programmes.

Cultural heritage is also a feature of wetland education centres.

As WLI members we will work towards promoting wetland CEPA under RAMSAR, and support members running and establishing wetland education centres worldwide.

What is RAMSAR?
The RAMSAR Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental treaty dating from 1971 now signed by more than 160 countries, for the conservation and wise use of wetlands.

Designated RAMSAR sites are wetlands of international importance which governments have agreed to protect and ensure their effective management. China has designated 46 RAMSAR sites including Mai Po Marshes and Inner Deep Bay in Hong Kong.

For more information see www.ramsar.org.

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TTT x WWF Coastal Watch: Tai Tam survey

Written on . Posted in Biodiversity, Events, Marine conservation

6 September 2014 / On Saturday 6 September, TTT and Green Council Hong Kong are surveying Tai Tam for Coastal Watch, a new Hong Kong-wide citizen science programme.

Coastal Watch is an ecological survey and coastal cleanup programme organised by WWF-HK with six strategic partners and supported by the Hong Kong Government.

Over 800 volunteers have already signed up to help scientists collect data on 27 sites above and below water!

The partners came together in July 2012 to lead the cleanup from Hong Kong’s biggest plastic spill, when 150 tonnes of “nurdles” fell off a container ship during Typhoon Vicente and began washing up on beaches 48 hours later.

The aim is long-term data collection using consistent methodology, shared with the public, government and NGOs, to mobilise public awareness and develop effective marine conservation policies.

We have created this new iSpot Project as a pilot to confirm species surveyed in Tai Tam.

UPDATE

CoW- Tai Tam (3)

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CoW TTT8

CoW TTT11

CoW TTT14

CoW TTT18

CoW TTT20

CoW TTT22

CoW TTT27

ID CoW TTT mudskipper2

ID CoW TTT crab4

ID CoW TTT burrows

ID CoW TTT clam1c

ID CoW TTT crab2