Nature Notes

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 February, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 February, 1995, 12:00am

CONSERVING habitats plays a vital role in nature/wildlife conservation. However, the conservation value of our countryside differs according to the characteristics of a particular site, for example, the fauna and flora found there, and the habitat type.

Therefore, it is important to recognise and mark those sites with outstanding interest, so as to highlight their conservation needs.

To address this need, Hong Kong adopted a designation system developed in England and since 1975, a number of sites have been selected to be designated as 'Site of Special Scientific Interest' or in short, SSSI.

SSSI is designated according to the site's special fauna, floral, ecological or geographical features.

For example, the egrets in the fung shui wood at Yim Tso Ha, Sha Tau Kok, where egrets and herons nest each year is one of the first SSSIs to be designated.

An area of sedimentary rocks on the shore of Tolo Harbour contains a rich deposit of fossil ammonites and is another SSSI.

The most well-known SSSI in Hong Kong is the Mai Po Marshes.

The unique habitats composed of mangroves, tidal shrimp ponds (locally called gei wais ), and reedbeds at the Mai Po Marshes constitute an internationally important wetland supporting hundreds of species of wildlife.

Once an area is designated as SSSI, attention can be drawn to its existence.

It is, indeed, the aim of the SSSI designated to ensure that full account is taken when development or change in the land use is proposed.

Currently, there are 51 Sites of Special Scientific Interest in the territory.

However, not all the SSSIs receive legal protection.

Control on development in SSSIs is only imposed in those SSSIs which are covered by the Town Planning Ordinance.

For the rest of the Sites of Special Scientific Interest, only administrative procedures are available to safeguard their interests.