New Film on Beauty of and Threats to Hoi Ha and Pak Sha O
Actress and Conservationist Sharon Kwok visits these gems of the Sai Kung Peninsula, finding nature and heritage threatened by development
Hong Kong, 18 February 2014 — With the Hong Kong countryside facing a wave of developments, a new 9-minute film highlights the wonders of and threats to two “hot spots": Hoi Ha and Pak Sha O on the Sai Kung Peninsula. Sharon Kwok, founder of AquaMeridian Conservation and Education Foundation, visits the areas to learn of the issues first-hand.
The film shows Kwok finding wildlife and plants and admiring the scenery at Hoi Ha, where Dave Newbery, Friends of Hoi Ha, tells her that 60 three-storey houses might be built on forested slopes beside the main stream entering Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park. “We've already done so much to damage Hong Kong’s oceans - it’s really got to be left alone,” she notes. “Hoi Ha's precious Marine Park boasts astounding coral diversity and is one of Hong Kong's most beautiful coral areas. How can we allow this to be taken from our future generations?”
The villages of Hoi Ha and Pak Sha O are faced with demands for development which will cause environmental, cultural and social disasters. The draft Outline Zoning Plan for Hoi Ha will see the beautiful landscape surrounding the village destroyed by the building of nearly 100 houses, which will discharge poorly-treated sewage into Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park. Not only will the landscape be destroyed but, also, Hoi Ha Wan, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interests because of its coral and other marine life and a popular area for water-based activities for thousands of people because of its clean water, will be polluted to an extent which may see the coral and marine life destroyed and the beaches rendered unfit for human use. This is not only an environmental disaster but, also, if tourists stop coming to Hoi Ha, the local business will fail.
Meanwhile, Pak Sha O, which is a wonderful, intact Hakka village, is threatened with being destroyed and replaced by up to 200 new houses; this would be an act of cultural and environmental vandalism.
The “requirement” for the developments at Hoi Ha and Pak Sha O will not help Hong Kong’s housing problems and is purely driven by the avarice of indigenous villagers who wish to exploit the out-dated Small House Policy and have no intention of ever living in the villages. The developments are being orchestrated by developers who have already bought up nearly all of the agricultural land surrounding the villages.
Friends of Hoi Ha call upon the Government to zone the enclaves of Hoi Ha and Pak Sha O for conservation, not development, to restrict the V-zones in both villages to the present village footprints and to zone the remaining areas as Conservation Area or Coastal Protection Area. Meanwhile, the houses at Pak Sha O need to be fully protected against the threat of demolition.
Over 10,000 people have written to the Town Planning Board expressing their opposition to the Hoi Ha OZP; 13,000 have signed petitions opposing the proposed developments. The Government needs to listen to the voice of the people of Hong Kong and stop pandering to the unrealistic and unreasonable demand of absentee indigenous Villagers and property developers.
Kwok makes her first visit to Pak Sha O, and is greatly impressed by the Hakka architecture and the artwork on the buildings. A former wetland has already been replaced by farmland, probably as a prelude to development and there are plans for demolishing old buildings and replacing them with new three-storey houses. “People need to know about Pak Sha O,” says Kwok.
The film is intended to be one way Hong Kong people can learn of Hoi Ha and Pak Sha O, and join calls to protect them. It’s one of a series of short films being made by conservationist Dr Martin Williams, founder of www.hkoutdoors.com, who is a member of the Save Our Country Parks Alliance. “There are way too many threats to rural areas right now,” says Williams. “It seems the government has lost enthusiasm for conservation – yet Hongkongers care more than ever before about the countryside.”
One way people can show support for safeguarding Hoi Ha is through the SupportHK petition site. “This is Hong Kong’s first environmental petition platform,” says SupportHK manager Kelly Chan. “The Hoi Ha petition is to support protection of this area of outstanding natural beauty and high ecological value by zoning for conservation and not for development.”
The Hoi Ha zoning plans will soon be finalized by the Town Planning Board. Though provisional plans called for great expansion of the area allowing village development – which would enable far more housing than actually needed by the few indigenous residents, thousands of people have already called on the board to instead create zoning that favours conservation.
新片發佈 – 海下和白沙澳之美態及威脅
香港，2014年2月18日 – 香港的郊野公園現正面臨發展的威脅，為宣揚保育海下及呼籲公眾反對城規會海下分區計劃大綱草圖，海下之友聯同其他環保團體及保育人士舉行記者招待會，向公眾人士展示海峰環保教育基金創辦人暨執行總監郭秀雲到訪西貢，直接瞭解問題所在的影片。
與此同時，白沙澳 – 一個風景漂亮及完整的客家村落 – 亦正受到威脅，隨時被開發及被近200間房屋取代。而這會是對文化及環境的蓄意破壞。
影片是其中一個途徑讓香港人了解海下和白沙澳，也是保育人士衛林士（Dr. Martin Williams）博士所拍攝的一系列影片中的其中一部。衛博士是www.hkoutdoors.com網站的創辦人，是保衛郊野公園聯盟的成員之一。衛博士指出：「現在都市人對鄉村地帶的威脅太大了」，他續道：「看起來政府對保育失去了興趣，但香港人卻比以往更加關心郊野地區。」