Oppose the sacrifice of “Wetland Buffer Area” (WBA) for wetland conservation in Deep Bay


WBA WCA Boundary 2014 En resize

28 September 2018

During the public consultation period for the land supply in the past five months, some people pointed out that the fishponds and wetlands in the Deep Bay area have potential for development. Some even considered that many fishponds in the Deep Bay “Wetland Conservation Area” (WCA) are abandoned with land or pond filling happening from time to time, causing their ecological value to decline. As such, they suggested to relax the plot ratio in WBA and increase its residential development density to attract developers transfer their development project from WCA to WBA via land exchange, and take part of the profit to conserve and manage the abandoned fishponds.

The Society rejects this suggestion because it will increase the development pressure of the WBA, which is contrary to its buffering function and its planning intention to protect the WCA. We are concerned about the adverse off-site ecological impacts on WCA caused by the increase in development intensity in WBA, thus WBA is an inappropriate site to exchange for the land in WCA. The proposed suggestion runs directly contrary to the intent of Hong Kong’s Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan and the Convention on Biological Diversity at the international scale. The Society also do not agree with the idea of “there must be real estate development to support natural conservation”.

Since 2012, the Society has been carrying out a management agreement (MA) project funded by the Environment and Conservation Fund in Deep Bay, covering an area of over 600 hectares of fishponds. The MA project encourages fish farmers to maintain traditional fish pond management and operation, especially to lower the water level when harvesting the fish, so as to provide suitable foraging habitat for birds. This habitat management and monitoring program aims to achieve a win-win situation for both fish farming and bird conservation. It also conserves the economic, ecological, landscape, cultural and educational value of the fishponds and its function in flood prevention. Up to now, there are seven sites with ecological conservation values are managed under the MA scheme in Hong Kong. However, there have been no successful case of private-public partnership for conservation over the past 10 or more years. Hence, the MA scheme is a more practical measure for the conservation wetlands other than fishponds under the existing policy and mechanism.

In addition, the Government has only formulated a management plan for the "Mai Po Inner Deep Bay Ramsar Site". The Society urges the Government to extend the management plan to wetlands outside the Ramsar site and to establish a long-term and comprehensive conservation policy for the conservation of wetlands in the Deep Bay area, so as to ensure there is a safe stop-over and wintering site with ample of food for the tens of thousands of migratory birds passing through Hong Kong each year.

 

*Further readings:
>>Green Groups call for Government to lead conservation efforts (2 May 2018): https://bit.ly/2R6fuCq
>>Green Groups response to the allegations made by the Nam Sang Wai developer (19 May 2016): https://bit.ly/2DEaodN

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