With its unique environment, Lantau has a wealth of natural and cultural resources. We have been promoting Lantau’s sustainable development under the overarching principle of “Development in the North; Conservation for the South” set out in the Sustainable Lantau Blueprint. This time, I have invited colleagues from the Sustainable Lantau Office (SLO) of the Civil Engineering and Development Department to introduce the SLO’s work in promoting conservation, sustainable leisure and recreation as well as related supporting facilities in South Lantau. The Chairperson of the Lantau Conservation Fund (LCF) Advisory Committee, Prof. LEUNG Mei-yee, Kenneth, will also share the achievements of LCF-funded projects.
Promoting conservation by the principle of “Development in the North; Conservation for the South”
Some people may think that conservation is about “preserving the natural environment and not touching anything”; in fact, conservation and development can co-exist. As explained by the SLO’s Engineer, Ms LI Dan, Flora, and Conservation Officer, Mr CHOW Hing-yin, Stephen, the SLO’s conservation measures and plans are highly diversified. Apart from encouraging the public to learn about South Lantau’s rich natural and cultural resources, its history, etc., the SLO also promotes sustainable leisure and recreational activities, eco-tourism, and so on, which not only enhance public awareness of conservation, but also revitalise rural areas and boost the economy for the benefit of villagers and visitors.
Implementing Shui Hau Coastal Protection Programme
Shui Hau Wan has a unique habitat that nurtures a variety of mudflat species and attracts many visitors for clam digging. However, to prevent excessive clam digging from affecting Shui Hau’s ecological environment, the SLO has been working with the World Wide Fund for Nature Hong Kong since 2020 to implement the Shui Hau Coastal Protection Programme. Through community engagement and education activities, the programme aims to educate the public about Shui Hau Wan’s precious natural resources and sustainable clam digging. It also includes workshops to collect stakeholders’ opinions on topics such as environmental management, biodiversity and village culture of Shui Hau. Some of the discussion results were also painted as a mural.
Mr CHAN, a store owner in Shui Hau who participated in the activities, said that since the implementation of the programme, public awareness of conservation had increased significantly, with many visitors following the clam digging rules and not taking away small clams. Some families would even return the clams they had dug up to the original locations, which was an unexpected result of the programme.
Subsidising Shui Hau Wetland Conservation Project
The SLO also promotes the involvement of other organisations in conservation work. The Government has set up the $1 billion LCF in 2020 and approved a total of 31 conservation projects in two rounds of applications. The Chairperson of the LCF Advisory Committee, Prof. LEUNG Mei-yee, Kenneth, said that the LCF aims to support the implementation of conservation work in Lantau and raise community awareness of conserving the nature and cultural heritage. He also hoped that more organisations and individuals would participate in and support the LCF’s conservation work. An example is a wetland conservation project co-organised by the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society, Shui Hau villagers and the University of Hong Kong, which is testing different habitat management practices in Shui Hau, such as removing some non-wetland plants and planting rice, so as to lay a foundation for long-term conservation strategies in future.
Subsidising the Tai O cultural conservation project
In addition to nature conservation, the LCF also funds various cultural and historical conservation projects, such as the Tai O Fishermen Community Historical Conservation Project launched by the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in Tai O. The project leader, Prof. CHEUNG Siu-woo, said that a special Tai O Fishermen Image Gallery had been created as their fruit of collaboration with rural committees, local organisations, Tai O residents and young artists. They hoped that through models and micro-documentaries, the public, especially the younger generation, could learn more about the history, religious festivals, culture and customs of Tai O fishermen. A local indigenous resident also commented that the project was very meaningful as it would allow more Tai O fishermen to take part in conservation.
Facilitating the development of private quality hostels and campsites
The SLO is also committed to promoting sustainable leisure and recreation as well as related supporting facilities, including the exploration of suitable locations in South Lantau for developing quality hostels, themed campsites and other accommodation facilities. We are aware that many nature lovers enjoy camping in places such as Tong Fuk and Cheung Sha on Lantau Island. As some operators who wish to operate small-scale campsites and camper vans in Lantau are not familiar with the application criteria for permits and licences, the SLO is taking the initiative to assist these operators to follow up with relevant government departments, hoping to provide some successful examples for other applicants’ reference, so as to promote the development of private quality hostels and campsites in Lantau. Those interested in operating small-scale campsites or camper vans in Lantau can call the SLO at 2157 2783 for enquiries.
Launching a feasibility study on strengthening transport infrastructure
Recognising the importance of a comprehensive transport network for Lantau’s sustainable development, the SLO has launched a feasibility study this month to further explore the strengthening of transport infrastructure in the eastern and western parts of Lantau to improve its north-south connectivity, as well as the re-use and improvement of the old Tung Chung Road in central Lantau. The study is expected to be completed by mid-2025. The Government will also carry out minor improvement works, such as road widening and bend improvement, at sections of South Lantau Road, Keung Shan Road, Tai O Road, etc. in stages.
In future, the Government will continue to actively communicate with various stakeholders to take forward more appropriate conservation measures, leisure and recreation as well as related supporting facilities in South Lantau, with a view to achieving Lantau’s sustainable development.
19 March, 2023Back