Hong Kong authorities have decided that five country park enclaves, including Ma On Shan’s Mao Ping which was ranked sixth in a government ecological value survey in 2004, would not be incorporated into country parks, Ming Pao Daily News reported Tuesday.
Private land plots within these enclaves had been cited by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) as the reason for the decision, the paper said. Country park enclaves are sites that are surrounded by or are adjacent to the country parks, but are not part of the parks.
Environmental groups have slammed the government’s decision, saying that it is sacrificing conservation in order to protect the private land plots and trying to please residents in the New Territories.
Ng Hei-man, Assistant Campaign Manager at The Conservancy Association, said the government’s explanation was weak and that the public is not convinced.
At present, there are 77 country park enclaves in Hong Kong, of which 23 were already drafted into district development. The AFCD and the Planning Department are each tasked with managing the remaining 54 enclaves. So far, the AFCD has ruled out 11 enclaves of the 27 under its management for inclusion as part of country parks.
In 2004, the government selected 12 locations with the highest ecological value, with Mai Po, Sha Lo Tung, and Tao Ho taking the top three spots. The survey reviews candidate locations in terms of their nature habitats, bio-diversity, difficulty in redevelopment and rarity of living species. Mao Ping in Ma On Shan came sixth overall in the survey, the report said.
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