Mudflats in Pak Nai
Mudflats Of Pak Nai, Hong Kong © Derek Tang

Hong Kong Projects

Managing Pak Nai’s Ecologically Important Habitats

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) aims to restore Hong Kong’s lost shellfish reefs to increase local biodiversity and fish production, improve water quality and enhance natural coastal defences against storms. Led by TNC’s expertise in restoring shellfish reefs in over 150 sites globally, we constructed our first pilot oyster reef in Lau Fau Shan in 2018, with the objective to understand the impacts of restoration on local biodiversity. In 2019, TNC established a second pilot site in Tolo Harbour using recycled oyster shells, the preferred substrate for new oysters to settle and grow on. 

Oyster reef study site
Oyster reef study site TNC’s research on shellfish reef © Lori Cheung/ TNC
Pilot oyster reef
Pilot oyster reef in Lau Fau Shan, Hong Kong © Kyle Obermann

In 2021, with the support from the Swire Trust, Marine Conservation Enhancement Fund (MCEF) and local community partners, we launched a new project: "Managing Pak Nai’s Ecologically Important Habitats to Preserve its Natural Beauty and Sensitive Biodiversity".

An endangered horseshoe crab and seagrass species
Endangered species An endangered horseshoe crab and seagrass species © Tom Chan/ TNC

Historically, Pak Nai was a site for traditional benthic oyster farms cultivated by local villagers. Though this traditional method of oyster farming is no longer in use, the mudflats of Pak Nai remain an ecological hotspot where endangered horseshoe crab and seagrass species can be found. However, Pak Nai is currently statutorily unprotected and unmanaged, leaving it exposed to increasing threats such as unsustainable tourism and rampant spreading of invasive species.

Under the Pak Nai project, TNC is working to scale up and expand our conservation goals:

1.       To conduct scientific research and ecological monitoring such as sediment research, habitat mappings and horseshoe crab monitoring;

2.       To carry out active conservation management work such as reconfiguring abandoned oyster farms, removal of invasive cordgrass and clearing of aquaculture debris and marine litter; and

3.       To promote sustainable tourism behavior and increase public awareness of oyster reefs through school sharing, public talks, educational tours, university ambassador trainings, educational panels set-up and community meetings with local stakeholders.

As of November 2022, TNC and volunteers have restored more than 2200 m2 of abandoned oyster farms, removed 1200m2 of invasive cordgrass pitches and removed 600kg of aquaculture debris and marine litter in Pak Nai.

Community partners of TNC in Pak Nai:


A Plastic Ocean Foundation

Ha Pak Nai Education Centre Limited

Hong Kong Bird Watching Society

Outdoor Wildlife Learning Hong Kong

The Swire Group Charitable Trust

WWF-Hong Kong