[Hong Kong] Extension of Wetland Buffer Area and Wetland Conservation Area

Extension of Wetland Buffer Area and Wetland Conservation Area

Last week, the Planning Department has agreed to extend the boundaries of Wetland Conservation Area (WCA) and Wetland Buffer Area (WBA) of the Planning Guidelines 12-B, “Guidelines for Application for Developments within Deep Bay Area” to cover the fish ponds of Ma Tso Lung and Hoo Hok Wai (Gist of decisions: ... 1059_tpb_Gist_e.pdf)   This amendment is a great step towards increasing the level of local legislative protection to the internationally recognized “Inner Deep Bay and Shenzhen River Catchment Important Bird Area”.

  The extended boundaries are consistent with the proposal from the Study on the Ecological Value of Fish Ponds in Deep Bay Area completed in 1997 which stated, “all the existing active and abandoned fish ponds forming a continuous wetland habitat in Ma Tso Lung, San Tin, Mai Po, Nam Sang Wai and Tsim Bei Tsui, covering an area of around 1,400 ha could be zoned as Wetland Conservation Area”.

With the revised planning guidelines in place, stringent development controls will be applied for both the WCA and WBA:
-        Precautionary principle and the no-net-loss of wetland principle in area and function are applied.
-        New developments are discouraged in WCA unless it is required to support the conservation of the ecological integrity of the wetland ecosystem OR the development is an essential infrastructure project with overriding public interest.
-        For development projects proposed in the WCA, it must fulfilled the Public-Private-Partnership requirement along with the no-net-loss in wetland principle, followed by an Ecological Impact Assessment, with baseline ecological surveys cover not less than 12 months.
-        Developments proposed in the WBA with negative off-site disturbance impact to the ecological value of fish ponds are discouraged.
-        Developments proposed in the WBA that require planning permission (section 16) must conduct an Ecological Impact Assessment

If you wish to see the Town Planning Board paper regarding this topic, please free feel to PM me.  The revised version of the guidelines are not yet available online.