(29 March 2016) The Hong Kong Bird Watching Society (HKBWS) today released the latest report of “Hong Kong Headline Indicators for Biodiversity and Conservation 2013-2014”, the only systematic monitoring of the state and progress of biodiversity conservation in Hong Kong. This is the third report of the same series, which reports on data collected over the past 5 years.
Mr. Apache Lau, the chairman of HKBWS said, “The Government initiated the work on formulating a Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (BSAP) for Hong Kong in 2013 and now it has come to the public consultation period. This report is particularly important as it provides key baseline information about the key threats and challenges to biodiversity that the BSAP is intended to address but or not included in the consultation document”.
The report shows how ecological vandalism continues to threaten Hong Kong’s biodiversity. There are on average over 100 confirmed cases of unauthorized development per year and over 30 cases which enforcement not possible due to known loopholes in current legislation. None of the damaged sites reported by environmental NGOs were restored back to their original ecological function.
Developments are encroaching our conservation zonings. 1% of Green Belts in Hong Kong was proposed to rezone for housing development, in which some are well-vegetated and with recognized ecological value. Small houses applications account for more than 90% and 65% of the approved applications in Agriculture and Green Belt zonings respectively in the past decade.
Populations of key species are declining. The peak count of waterbirds in Deep Bay area has halved in the past eight years with an average annual decrease rate of about 7%. The abundance of Chinese White Dolphin in Lantau follows a similar trend.
Mr. Lau added, “The HKBWS welcomes the formulation of BSAP for Hong Kong and that the Government has allocated funding to facilitate its implementation in 2016 budget. HKBWS also supports the existing conservation and education efforts of the Government as outlined in the consultation document. However, these measures do not adequately address the imminent threats to our biodiversity and natural environment”.
The HKBWS urges the Government to adopt the following actions to strengthen the BSAP in order to meet the challenges outline about.
1) Establish a high level inter-departmental committee to steer and co-ordinate the biodiversity conservation actions of different departments for an effective implementation of the BSAP.
2) Strengthen the protection and management of sites and habitats with high ecological value, which can be achieved through:
a. designation of Country Parks,
b. implementation of Management Agreements,
c. establishment of a Nature Conservation Trust,
d. non-in-situ land exchange, and
e. a cross-departmental conservation enforcement task force
3) Revise loopholes in existing regulatory framework (e.g. Town Planning Ordinance, Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance, and Waste Disposal Ordinance) that hinder effective enforcement. Licensing of imported birds should also be strengthened to minimise the adverse impacts on bird populations and public health caused by this trade.
The HKBWS encourages members of the public who values Hong Kong’s natural heritage and are concerned about the ongoing trashing incidents to make written submissions to the Government (deadline: 7 April 2016), to support the implementation of the BSAP and to request more solid measures be include in the BSAP to ensure effective protection and conservation of Hong Kong’s biodiversity.
The headline indicators in this report were developed based on the report “Nature Conservation: A new policy framework for Hong Kong” published by Civic Exchange, and were selected through discussions with environmental NGOs, academics, consultants, government officials and other stakeholders. The data used in the report was collected from Government departments, environmental NGOs and academics.
*** 延伸閱讀 Further readings: 本會對《行動計劃》的重點建議 HKBWS’s key comments on BSAP