Global Affairs

Environmental Conservation Education Class Conducts Eco-Tourism Master Planning in Hong Kong

A graduate Environmental Conservation Education class recently visited Hong Kong to conduct field-based research for enhancing eco-tourism.  The group traveled to Hong Kong as part of the spring course, "Sustainable Places: Social and Ecological Field Studies," taught by Raul Lejano, and drew students from the Wagner School and Steinhardt's departments of public health and environmental conservation education. Click here to view a participant's video about the program. 

Among the world's largest cities, Hong Kong has the largest percentage of greenspace. And, yet, most tourists (and residents, as the class found out) know little about the rich ecosystems found in this city. The objective of the students' field work while in Hong Kong was to analyze the factors that constrain eco-tourism in Hong Kong and to develop measures to enhance it.  The analysis was conducted within a social-ecological framework, which encourages evaluation along multiple spatial (and institutional) scales.  In this case, the evaluation was conducted across three dimensions:  Macro (the social construction of the city), Meso (features of the neighborhood), and Micro (experiencing nature at the site). 

The class was a collaboration with The Chinese Unversity of Hong Kong (CUHK), led by Prof. Lawal Marafa, an authority on eco-tourism.  The macro-scale work involved studying how to integrate nature into the image and discourse of Hong Kong.  The middle-level evaluation consisted of on-the-spot surveys of visitors to Sai Kung, which is a famous tourist attraction and magnet for seafood lovers.  The seven NYU students worked side-by-side with eight master's students from CUHK and conducted 127 surveys.

For the micro-scale analysis, the class developed a virtually guided nature experience of nearby Hoi Ha Wan marine park.  This involved constructing a georeferenced nature trail and designing an environmental education experience, which includes discovering and identifying mangrove species.

Professor Lejano reports that he was impressed by the quality of the students' field work and their level of engagement with the culture and ecology of Hong Kong. The group, comprised of NYU graduate students Diego Benitez, Jun Li, Lemel Lindsey, Pilar Mendez, Juliann Navarra, Corinne Reynoso, and Rebecca Susko, will present their report, the "Eco-Tourism Enhancement Study" to to the Parks and Tourism boards in Hong Kong this summer.