Urgent Calls for Conservation: HK Wetlands Under Threat

Why Are the Hong Kong Wetlands Under Threat?

Hong Kong's wetlands designated for conservation have suffered significant damage since the announcement of plans for a technology hub near the border last year. Greenpeace and the Conservancy Association released the findings of their two-year study, revealing that 15 percent of the wetlands designated for conservation in the government's Northern Metropolis Development Strategy were damaged by the end of last year.

The controversial Northern Metropolis plan aims to convert wetlands and farmland near the border into development areas. It is a blueprint to transform the northern New Territories into a major hub for business, innovation, technology, eco-tourism, professional services, and logistics.

The study identified Hoo Hok Wai as the wetland that incurred the most damage, with 11.5 percent of the land designated for a wetland park affected. The Sam Po Shue wetlands near San Tin, the only ecological site with a conservation timeline, also experienced damage due to nearby wreckage. Illegal waste dumping and unregistered expansion of fish ponds were identified as key factors contributing to the degradation of these wetlands.

The study revealed that the damage doubled within two years, indicating a growing threat to these valuable ecological sites. Advocates are urging the government to establish a concrete timetable for wetland parks in the Northern Metropolis plan. This would prevent encroachment by private development projects and illegal waste dumping, which pose significant risks to the wetlands.

Comparison between sites marked for conservation in the 2021 plan and recent development records revealed that approximately 587.1 hectares of wetland earmarked for development exist. Among them, 267.2 hectares are allotted for approved private projects, 25.5 hectares for small houses, and 114.3 hectares for other development projects.

The urgent call for conservation measures underscores the need to strike a balance between development and environmental preservation. It is crucial for the government to take immediate action to protect these wetlands, ensuring their long-term sustainability and the preservation of Hong Kong's valuable natural resources.

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