Sham Chung shenanigans

This thread discusses the Content article: Sham">http://www.hkoutdoors.com/hong-kong-news/sham-chung-shenanigans.html]Sham Chung shenanigans

Adding on 4 Feb 09:

Just been informed Sun Hung Kai has no development plans for Sham Chung; they can't see potential without an access road.

Kind of good; but too bad the wetland was trashed.

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South China Morning Post article, April 2006 (sadly, not linkable as must be scmp subscriber to view articles), included:
A new battle in the hostilities between environmentalists and Sun Hung Kai Properties is looming over Sham Chung, one of Hong Kong's most precious wetlands. Five green groups have sent submissions to the Town Planning Board, in which they demand more stringent measures to protect the Sai Kung wetlands from irreparable damage. They are Green Power, the Conservancy Association, WWF Hong Kong, Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden and the Eco-Education and Resources Centre. They are going head-to-head with Land Bright Development and Land Honest Development, two subsidiaries of Sun Hung Kai Properties. The companies [sic] are urging the board to permit an 8.39 hectare spa resort project and make more land available for a housing development. If the property giant's proposal is approved, there will be a resort hotel, houses, a helicopter landing pad and private clubs at Sham Chung.
Gotta hope the green groups' views are heard. A helicopter pad etc etc, for goodness sake!

Good to see recent news item (SCM Post), asying the Town Planning Board had decided to uphold the government's draft plan for Sham Chung. Prevents Sun Hung Kai Properties from fully proceeding with plans to build, "a helicopter pad, a holiday camp, resort style hotel, houses, a picnic area, private club, church and recreation and sport centres." But, Planning Dept will review its plan in three years...

Just curious, what is required to make Sham Chung a national park? How can you obtain the funds to improve the village homes into something a bit more respectable? I am all up for changing the Sham Chung into national park but how would you persuade the villagers to change their minds especially the elders? The problem is most of the villagers that fled the land had to emigrate oversea to make end meat to support and raise their family. When the Sai Hung Kai opportunity came along, they see it as a lottery win. Kerching!! My father is one of those villagers who had survive a lot of hardship in the UK. I imagine it will be the same for the rest of the villagers. How would you change their mindset? For me I would like to see the land to be converted into national park than watching a couple of ponzy b*****ds playing golf. The problem is I don't have a say in this matter. If WWF and greenpeace really want to change this into a national park, they would have to provide some sort of funding to improve the housing in the area but the only problem is trying persuade the older generation who are mainly after a big paycheck. The only thing I can think of is to target the younger generation but the problem they are all disperse around the world.

Martin Williams's picture

Well, we have country parks here.

But establishing them is tough - very very few new ones lately. And all that I know of exclude village areas, even abandoned villages - Sham Chung is a classic example of these, surrounded by country park yet excluded from it.
Idea when excluding the villages, much as small house policy, was to allow villages to survive. Wasn't anticipated people would mostly move out, and then village areas would attract rich city folk for renting commuter accommodation, maybe visiting on holidays, playing golf and so forth.

Money would indeed change minds; but Sun Hung Kai has already bought rights to most Sham Chung land - and seems utterly disinterested in doing anything like pleasant rural tourism (I have tried to contact Sun Hung Kai about Sham Chung, through Business Env Council - but nothing).

Sham Chung is one of several major sites for biodiversity that have been bought by developers in this way, with government fending off various proposals for developments, yet finding it tough to keep holding out.
There have been ideas for government buying land - which might be only way to establish country parks in such areas; yet very expensive. (Way too much for WWF or Greenpeace, say; Hong Kong has pitifully few nature reserves - and massive land prices surely a key reason. Not like UK, where RSPB and other ngos can buy land for reserves.)
So, arguments continue.

I haven't been to Sham Chung for a while; was told there's now a golf course, but not sure it's used much. I believe it's crap that Sun Hung Kai hasn't (that I know of) made effort to maintain and restore old village houses there.

About to send another email to BEC, re Sun Hung Kai and Sham Chung...

Martin Williams's picture

I did try Sun Hung Kai again, via BEC: they're not interested in doing anything re nature tourism at Sham Chung.

Hi Doc Martin,

I have just been to Sham Chung recently and found trees that have been marked with numbers are being illegally chopped down by people from outside the area. I have been told the trees are used for some medicinal purposes hence the reason the people are chopping down for money. From talking to a local resident, they seem to suspect China's migrants entering hong kong illegally and transporting the logs back to China for sale. Do you know what can be done about this?

Cheers
P

Martin Williams's picture

Hi P:

Sad news!

Should be reported to Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Dept: might just lead to action. Also try police, perhaps.

I've seen incense trees with chunks chopped out, to encourage sap to flow.
Photo here: http://www.hkoutdoors.com/photos-martin-williams/hacked-incense-tree

Not seen or heard of trees being chopped down for removal, for whatever reason. Hope this isn't some new trend, following thefts of Buddhist pines, and the damage to incense trees (both for profits made in mainland China).

Martin