Dear Director of the Planning Department,
Opinion on the Comprehensive Development Nature-Conservation Enhancement Area in the NENT NDA Study
I strongly disagree with the zoning of Long Valley as Comprehensive Development Nature Conservation Enhancement Area (CDNCEA) as stated in the North East New Territories New Development Areas (NENT NDA) Study. My concern is that Long Valley, which is the largest remaining freshwater farmland in Hong Kong, has a high ecological value and deserves full protection from development. However, the CDNCEA zoning gives no legal protection to the area. Instead, this zoning allows development at Long Valley, which could lead to devastating impact on wildlife.
Long Valley is an important habitat for birds, including a number of threatened species
Long Valley, which is part of the Kwu Tung North New Development Area in the study, has long been recognized as an important habitat to wildlife, especially birds. It is the largest remaining freshwater farmland in Hong Kong, supporting over 250 bird species. Threatened wetland bird species with substantial population decrease such as the Pheasant-tailed Jacana and Greater Painted-snipe were found in Long Valley. Its importance is recognised internationally by Birdlife International, which listed Long Valley as an important bird area. Moreover, in the nature conservation policy in 2004, Long Valley was listed as one of the Priority Sites for Enhanced Conservation. The Environmental & Conservation Fund has given Conservancy Association and HKBWS substantial funding to coorperate with farmers and manage some of the farmlands at Long Valley so as to enhance its biodiversity, especially birds, and for environmental education.
No legal protection to the area if zoned as CDNCEA
According to the NENT NDA study, developers can develop a ‘less sensitive area’ within the CDNCEA and must ‘commit’ to protect and enhance the ecological value of the rest of the site. The CDNCEA makes possible for development to occur at Long Valley, which is currently an agricultural zone which can be used only for farming. However, this CDNCEA zoning has a number of problems. There are currently no laws, regulations or guidelines concerning this CDNCEA zoning. In other words, how the developers decide which area is ‘less sensitive’ and what kind and degree of ‘commitment’ to protect the habitat or wildlife are not regulated. As the aim of developers is to make money from developing the land, it is very doubtful that conservation will be put as a high priority.
Recommend to zone Long Valley as legally-protected conservation area
Most farmlands in Hong Kong, as well as in the Pearl River Delta, have been destroyed as a result of urban development over the past decades. In the face of such extensive loss of habitat and habitat fragmentation, species dependent of farmlands has been declining at an alarming rate. Long Valley as the largest freshwater farmland in Hong Kong is thus a very important habitat for wildlife not only in Hong Kong but in the regional context. It is recommended that Long Valley should be zoned as a legally-protected area that development is prohibited, such as Conservation Area or Site of Special Scientific Interest. Continuous support to conservation, such as the Environmental & Conservation Fund, should be done by the government so as to effectively manage this important site for enhancing wildlife and for public education on environmental conservation.
[ 本帖最後由 chi 於 2010-1-8 15:51 編輯