To promote sustainable development of Lantau, the Government promulgated the Sustainable Lantau Blueprint in 2017 with “Development in the North, Conservation for the South” as the overarching principle. The Blueprint outlines the strategic planning and development framework for Lantau. As promotion of community involvement and public education plays an important role in conservation work, this time I have invited the Under Secretary for Development (USDEV), Mr LIU Chun-san, and the Political Assistant (PA) to Secretary for Development, Mr FUNG Ying-lun, Allen, to take us to enjoy the beautiful scenery at Shui Hau in Lantau. Recently, they joined an eco-tour with the public to support and take part in ecological and environmental conservation.
The eco-tour was part of the “Conservation of Coastal Areas in Lantau” campaign jointly organised by the Sustainable Lantau Office under the Civil Engineering and Development Department and the Department of Ocean Science of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). The campaign aims at enhancing public awareness of conservation of coastal habitats in Lantau and promoting sustainable development of Lantau through a series of education activities including roving exhibitions, guided tours and workshops.
Ecologically important habitats
Shui Hau Wan is a sheltered bay located at the south coast of Lantau. It comprises ecologically important habitats such as freshwater wetlands, mangroves and sandflats. It is also an important breeding and nursery ground for precious local species such as horseshoe crabs. There are more than 60 species of crabs in intertidal areas in Hong Kong, mainly found in various tidal zones. Most of the fiddler crab types common in Hong Kong, such as Uca acuta and Uca arcuata, can be found in Shui Hau Wan.
Thanks to the summer vacation, quite a number of parents took their children to join the Shui Hau eco-tour. During the tour, participants learnt a lot from lecturers of the HKUST about the ecology of Lantau and the threats to marine ecology caused by human activities such as excessive clam digging and the leaving behind of rubbish. I believe everybody had a very interesting lesson in ecology and conservation.
It was at low tide in the afternoon when the activity was held. The USDEV, Mr LIU Chun-san, the PA to Secretary for Development, Mr Allen FUNG, teaching staff and students of the HKUST, along with participants, went to the sandflats at Shui Hau Wan to conduct a small scale simulated ecological survey by carefully exploring various species. Upon finding species such as shellfish and fiddler crabs, both children and adults became very excited. After the survey, they did not forget to place the species back to their original positions. Then, they took part in conserving Lantau by cleaning up marine rubbish.
Excessive clam digging detrimental to the ecology
Owing to the rich biodiversity of species found in the intertidal zones, particularly the shellfish, many visitors are drawn to the mudflats to dig for clams or other shellfish at low tide during summer holidays. However, excessive clam digging and rubbish left by visitors will threaten marine ecology and species. Therefore, we have to constantly educate the public to love nature and treasure the natural resources.
Let’s shape a sustainable Lantau
To strike a balance between the development and conservation of Lantau, the Sustainable Lantau Blueprint has put forward a number of recommendations on nature conservation, including exploring collaboration with relevant stakeholders and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for the conservation of mudflat and sandflat habitats as well as the Pui O wetland, strengthening control against illegal dumping, exploring funding support for conservation purposes, designating marine parks in Lantau waters, etc.
Promoting community involvement is an important part of Lantau conservation. The Sustainable Lantau Office has obtained funding from the Environmental and Conservation Fund (ECF) to support NGOs to take forward nine environmental education and community action projects on nature conservation in South Lantau. The ECF will launch a new round of applications for funding in the third quarter of 2018 to invite more NGOs and community groups to participate in conservation projects. In December 2017, the office also commenced an Ecological Study for Pui O, Shui Hau, Tai O and Neighbouring Areas to evaluate the natural ecology in South Lantau and explore feasible conservation initiatives.
Commanding a strategic location, Lantau offers many development opportunities for the territory. Meanwhile, we attach great importance to nature conservation. By organising relevant community engagement activities, we aim to drive home the message of conservation of Lantau’s natural environment and resources. It is hoped that, while appreciating the marine habitats and biodiversity, the public will reflect on the impacts of human activities on nature so as to help reduce interference and maintain ecological balance. Let's shape a sustainable Lantau.
5 August, 2018Back