Grannie Green Revivial

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Chp 117, New Conservation Policy (2005) – Forty years champion for the environment

New Conservation Policy

After the Long Valley dispute was over, CA organized a forum on “Conservation & EIA: What after Long Valley” on 16 October 2001, inviting KCRC’s James Blake alongside Professor KC Lam of the Advisory Council for the Environment and Sir Gordon Wu, member of the Commission on Strategic Development to debate the way forward for Hong Kong’s conservation policy. Speaking on “Making EIA a more effective process in achieving sustainable development in Hong Kong”, CA’s Hung Wing Tat talked of a paradigm shift after Long Valley, with the consensus that environment, conservation and quality of life is worth paying for. Apart from a better mechanism to enhance quality of EIA, Dr Hung vouched for reconciliation and a genuine conservation policy.

A review of the conservation policy then came into the pipeline, with a paper produced by the government in July 2003 inviting discussion on a scoring system and implementation options for conservation. These were discussed in another CA forum on 30 August 2003, after which CA submitted a paper in October 2003 titled “Hong Kong, Asia’s World City, and the World’s Eco-City”, responding to the review.

CA’s advice was that the government should take the opportunity to devise a policy statement to state the needs for both conserving and restoring biodiversity resources of the territory in ecosystem, species and genetic levels. A key to the new policy would be a newly devised scoring system for the assessment of ecological value; here CA argued that the system was deficient in that it did not account for landscape value and that it should have given more weight to biodiversity especially for sites with rare and endemic species. The two implementation options, namely, management agreements with landowners and public-private partnership, both had CA’s support. On management agreements, a more proactive role by the government in facilitating and overseeing the arrangements was called for, with a warning that “this mechanism, and the NGOs involved, should not be used to simply ‘land-bank’ the sites for possible future changes in land use.” In the case of public-private partnership, CA stressed that it should not be carried out until very clear guidelines have been set to ensure the primary objective remains conservation, such as no net loss of ecological function and and commitment of long-term management. “Extreme care must be taken in designing and approving such schemes, or else this option may only stimulate more development in the name of conservation.”

Besides the two proposed methods, CA advised the government not to rule out other options such as government resumption or transfer of development rights. Many other measures could also be implemented to support conservation, including habitat restoration, use of reservoirs as wetland resources, enhancement of conservation in sites under government ownership, and conservation of species of special interest, and more stringent enforcement. Finally, the importance of institutional reform, such as establishing an independent Conservation Authority and a Conservation Trust, was again emphasized.

The product of the review was the “new” conservation policy announced by the government on 11 November 2005, which centred upon twelve specific sites selected for priority treatment through the use of management agreements and public-private partnership. While giving the proposals a cautious welcome, CA and other green groups issued a joint statement in December 2004 expressing concerns that the new policy fell short of global standards and was lacking in several areas including marine conservation, sustainable resource management, conservation of threatened genetic and species diversity, trade in live wildlife (particularly birds) and marine products, and commitment to the principle of “no net loss” of biodiversity. There was insufficient financial support with a mere HK$5 million being committed from the existing Environment Conservation Fund to help in the pilot schemes for Management Agreements.

The 12 sites identified in the New Conservation Policy include the following:

  • Mai Po Ramsar Site
  • Sha Lo Tung
  • Tai Ho
  • Fung Yuen
  • Luk Keng marsh
  • Mui Tsz Lam and Mau Ping
  • Wu Kau Tang
  • Long Valley and Ho Sheung Heung
  • Deep Bay wetland outside Ramsar Site
  • Cheung Sheung
  • Yung Shu O
  • Sham Chung

Upon the policy coming into force, CA participated as a partner in the Management Agreement for Long Valley. A few public-private partnership projects were developed for other areas but by 2008 none has materialized yet.

August 5, 2015 - Posted by | Dr WK Chan book

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