Safeguarding local biodiversity
In fact, 40 per cent of Hong Kong’s land lies within the Country Park system. Unfortunately, the lack of adequate policy, legislation, management and urban planning make many ecologically sensitive areas and biodiversity hotspots constantly under threats from urbanization, habitat destruction, reclamation and degradation such as illegal waste dumping.
Our mother nature is resilient but can be fragile as well, some damage done might be irreversible, that no effort being put afterwards could make it recover. One sad case is the destruction of Sham Chung in Tolo Harbour. This Country Park enclave used to have large area of freshwater marsh formed on abandoned paddies and supported large population of Hong Kong paradise fish, big orchid and three-striped grass frog. The land was bought by a private developer and the marsh was filled to form lawn or dug up to form ponds. The destruction is probably irreversible. Prevention is always the best way of protection.
WWF safegaurds our precious nature by advocating the government to take proactive conservation strategy and actions such as the Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan and ensuring large urbanisation projects will not cause excessive ecological damage through scrutinising Environmental Impact Assessments and planning studies.
For example, during the Third Runway system EIA , we repeatedly pointed out the demise suffered by the Chinese White Dolphin and launched a campaign, including having petition and experts joint letter to ask the government to designate two marine parks for this species. Finally government agreed and started the process to designate the Sokos Islands and Southwest Lantau Marine Parks.
Our Country Park system has many holes, i.e. enclaves which contain freshwater marshes, lowland streams and feng shui woods which are seldom found inside the Country Park system. These also contain private land and are vulnerable to development. We worked with other NGOs and have successfully incorporated several enclaves into the country parks while significantly reduced the area of “Village Type Development” in others.