A China Daily article published in January 2013 looked at Hong Kong conservation and the biodiversity plan, through a visit to Nam Sang Wai in the Deep Bay wetland.
Conflicts between development projects and environmentalists seem to be escalating in Hong Kong. The government is working on plans to resolve tensions and protect biodiversity.
The Nam Sang Wai project is just one of a growing number of environmental flashpoints between developers and green groups.
Since last fall, a controversy over an endangered lightning bug has stalled Cheung Kong Holding's bid to build 19 residential blocks in Fong Lok Wai on the fringe of the Ramsar Site. A columbarium project slated for Sha Lo Tong in Tai Po drew fire from environmentalists last summer, because the site for the columbarium is a critical habit for rare butterflies and dragonflies.
More recent outcries have erupted because of government plans to create an artificial beach at Lung Mei in Tolo Harbor. Green groups claim the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) failed to give sufficient consideration to Lung Mei's teeming aquatic life, starfish, seahorses and other rare creatures.
Other causes clbres from the local animal kingdom have spanned pink dolphins, finless porpoises, black-faced spoonbills, even the once-thought-to-be-extinct Romer's tree frog. Hong Kong's lack of any territory-wide plan for managing biodiversity is partly to be blamed for persistent conflicts, says Wilson Lau, a researcher at Civic Exchange, a local nonpartisan policy think tank.
Lau describes the current balance between development and conservation as "reactive" instead of "proactive". Change might be on the way. The global Convention on Biological Diversity extended to Hong Kong in May of 2011. As a result, the territory must begin implementing a Biodiversity Action Plan (BSAP) by 2015.
Via email correspondence, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) stated that Hong Kong's regional BSAP is in the works: "The BSAP being developed will basically lay down systematically, existing government policies and practices for the conservation of the biodiversity of Hong Kong, and identify any additional work needed to be undertaken for compliance with the Convention." An AFCD media liaison told China Daily that the government plans to consult the public and stakeholders on the draft BSAP during 2013.
"A more comprehensive and holistic plan would hopefully help to reduce conflicts and create better understanding," Lau says, speaking at a Dec 20 press conference to debut Civic Exchange's publication of "Developing a Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan for Hong Kong," a pamphlet meant to offer guidance and background to government officials.
Lisa Hopkinson wrote the document. She was formerly one of the Civic Exchange's co-founders. The other co-founder had been Christine Loh, who left the Civic Exchange in September to take a senior post in the government as under secretary for the environment....
Biodiversity plans to please