Pak Sha O is a splendid small village in northeast of Sai Kung Peninsula. Sadly, joined the ranks of way too many rural sites threatened by developments of various kinds.
From S China Morning Post on 24 October:
Sai Kung village, Pak Sha O, under threat from developer
Conservationists raise fears over other unzoned enclaves in country parks as company buys up land in Pak Sha O and has it cleared for farming
A Sai Kung village rich in ecological and heritage values is under threat from a developer who has bought up land faster than the government can freeze and zone its use, conservationists warn.
In the past month, about 3 hectares of land were cleared and drained for farming in Pak Sha O, an enclave of carefully preserved century-old farm homes set amid a wealth of greenery and wildlife in Sai Kung West Country Park.
The affected area is one of 77 private enclaves within country parks in the New Territories and on Lantau. The government listed the 77 sites in 2010 after the South China Morning Post exposed the misuse of such land in Tai Long Wan.
A total of 54 of the 77 enclaves were unzoned in 2010. The government promised to protect the others, drafting them into statutory plans, but 35 - including Pak Sha O - remain unprotected.
Now conservationists are raising the alarm because the developer in Pak Sha O has filled in ecologically valuable wetlands, which may be only the start of more development on unzoned land in Sai Kung's country parks.
"Excavation machines have started digging up dirt, draining the wetlands and destroying plants," said James Wong Ming, of the Friends of Sai Kung. "We speculate [the developer] is using a 'first destroy, then develop' policy here to do what they want."
At least 40 per cent of the saleable land in and around Pak Sha O village has been bought by one developer - Xinhua Bookstore Xiang Jian Group, owned by Lau Ming-shum, who also heads Treasure Spot Holdings...
also on 24 October, in SCMP:
Green groups urge protection of Pak Sha O and its environs
Conservationists say the enclave that includes Pak Sha On needs to be quickly zoned and listed for heritage and ecology protection
Hong Kong's best-conserved village - a century-old jewel set amid hills rich in natural life - is under threat.
Green groups warn that Pak Sha O, and the rich ecological web that surrounds it, faces destruction if the government doesn't act to stop development at the enclave in Sai Kung West Country Park.
"[Pak Sha O] is a rare mixture of man-made heritage, rare ecology and beautiful, unspoiled natural habitat," said James Wong Ming, a conservation officer with Friends of Sai Kung. "Out of the 28 sites we've [researched and reported on], this is the most impressive."
A developer has bought up at least 40 per cent of the hamlet's saleable land, including several homes, and has already cleared 3,000 square metres of rich wetland for farming.
The area's forests, grasslands and wetlands are home to 75 species of butterflies, 11 types of freshwater fish, 38 types of birds, eight species of amphibians and 23 types of insects. Among them are the rare and endangered three-lines Bagrid fish, found in only two places in the world - one of which is Sai Kung.
Rare types of butterflies such as the white dragontail and chestnut bob can be seen, and the area is one of the few spots where butterflies take shelter through winter. Other rare species include the eagle owl, Chinese softshell turtle and Chinemys reevesii turtle - endangered species seldom seen in the wild today.
Green Power's Dr Cheng Luk-ki fears developers may destroy the village. "Destroying a section [of land] with inappropriate construction and development will jeopardise the whole region and the ecological system."
Might not be so bad if actual farming takes place; but may indeed be simply "farming" as cover for destroying ecological riches to enable development. Mr Lau does not look an ideal chap to be a custodian of HK's rural heritage; the same day, the Post had a report on him including:
The name Lau Ming-shum - the developer who has caused controversy by buying up land in the Sai Kung village of Pak Sha O - is familiar to conservationists. It is not the first time the political adviser to Hunan has been in a land row.
Lau, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference since 2003, is an adviser to rural affairs body the Heung Yee Kuk and the head of the New Territories Realty Association. An owner of more than 70 companies in the city, he is also involved in the sauna club business.