Pui O on Lantau suffering Death by a Thousand Cuts

Email I've sent Environmental "Protection" Department, and some others in government [and cc'd several more people].

I have been cc’d your intriguing email regarding further wetland destruction at Pui O.

Intriguing as it again displays the government’s feebleness in safeguarding the “Coastal Protection Area” at Pui O.

Seems that Environmental Protection Department is nowadays just some sort of body for monitoring work; and of course pushing for infrastructure like incinerators.

Can’t think of much actual protecting of environment being done: though you may wish to correct me on this (examples welcome!).

Also intriguing re the AFCD visiting, and being so blasé about the damage.

I’ve been visiting Pui O since arriving in Hong Kong in 1987, and have seen great changes over time: extensive loss of former paddies, “natural” areas much diminished.

Never a huge amount at once, but some here, some there, and on it goes.

Now, there is far less wetland habitat remaining; so remainder should be all the more precious, and further damage is in turn all the more serious. Also as HK public nowadays more concerned about natural environment; even while officialdom seems barely concerned but besotted by infrastructure etc.

What sort of an AF and “Conservation” Dept do we have at work here? Seems to be further monitoring - and quickly returning to the office I presume - rather than conservation. [And yes, I know conservation and environmental protection are hard to do; and it's far easier to monitor and return to office].

To me, reminds me of Death by a Thousand Cuts - 凌遲 - which Wikipedia says was a form of torture in China. Each individual cut might not be so great; but eventual effect could be death.

Pui O’s “Coastal Protection Area” [haha] is dying a death in much the same way. So too many of Hong Kong’s lowland sites.

And really, it is appalling that officials supposedly charged with environmental protection and nature conservation seem so unconcerned, and ineffective.

You’ll have heard of BSAP - re biodiversity.

Can think too of Hong Kong being - through China - party to the Ramsar Convention; under which should ensure wise use of wetlands, ie "the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands and all the services they provide, for the benefit of people and nature.”

- this is government level stuff. 

That is, the kind of thing you and colleagues in EPD and AFCD should be working on. [With support from people like Anissa Wong; but I’ve no idea what Anissa Wong does for her salary!]

Not just monitoring, and giving a bland email that’s tantamount to thumbs up every time there is further damage.

Regards,

Dr Martin Williams

Founder, Hong Kong Outdoors

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Helping show the damage and threats to Pui O are far from new, this is from a 2007 email by Professor Paul Harris [there's surely earlier material, just not readily found online right now]

I am writing to express my concerns about the Revised Concept Plan for
Lantau. I am concerned about the plan itself, and I am very concerned
that HKSAR Government departments are already allowing the aims of the
plan to be undermined by ongoing and planned development and
construction on southern Lantau Island. Indeed, the concepts underlying
the plan are already being violated in countless ways. Let me provide
just a few contemporaneous examples.
CB(1)1790/06-07(03)
 
 
During in the last fortnight alone, the so-called 'Coastal Protection
Area' for Pui O identified in the plan and specifically a designated
grove of mangrove trees in a tidal zone adjacent to Ham Tin Village are
being reclaimed at a rapid pace, mostly with building rubble and
rubbish, some of it clearly toxic as indicated by container labels.
(This reclamation has speeded up since a photo of the damage appeared
in the South China Morning Post a few weeks ago.) What is more, this
reclaimed land is being used to construct a large new multi-unit
village house. Any casual observe visiting Ham Tin can see the
destruction of wetland.