Crisis plan call to save HK wildlife
By KATHY GRIFFIN
EMERGENCY measures should be introduced to protect wildlife from development as a preliminary step towards drafting a conservation policy, a leading environmental group urged yesterday.
This would ensure that areas such as the Shalotung valley, which is rich in flora and fauna but under threat of being turned into a golf course, could be protected even if the policy was not ready, Friends of the Earth said in a 48-page submission to theGovernment.
The Government lacks an overall policy on conservation, which is handled piecemeal by several departments, but is currently reviewing the issue as part of a White Paper on the environment due this summer.
Friends of the Earth said all major projects should undergo environmental assessment studies to determine if they are feasible, rather than the current practice of using them to find ways of minimising the impact.
It also suggested interim measures to protect countryside areas until the new policy and new laws were in place, which could take years depending on the timetable proposed in the White Paper review.
For instance, a provision in the Country Parks Ordinance would enable ''special areas'' of unleased Crown land to be declared and protected, such as hills, streams and woodlands, without time-consuming changes to legislation.
Town planning controls also could be extended and enforced throughout the New Territories.
The basis for identifying areas could be the Convention on Biodiversity, which was agreed to by all countries at the United Nations' Earth Summit last June.
The group's submission also called for the setting up of a Conservation and Countryside Department and for allocating resources to survey and monitor unspoiled habitats throughout the territory.
The White Paper, to be released some time this summer, will be an extension of a 1989 pollution White Paper and is expected to include conservation, energy consumption, sustainable development and other issues that arose during the Earth Summit.
Public submissions on the White Paper have not been invited by the Government, but the Deputy Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands, Mr Tony Cooper, agreed to accept their paper yesterday.
A member of Friends of the Earth's board of governors, legislator Ms Christine Loh Kung-wai, said: ''The Government has concentrated on cleaning up from an infrastructure point of view, like the sewage strategy and what to do about air pollution.
''Conservation has not attracted any attention within policy-making branches of government, which is why we've wanted to give this particular emphasis.'' Conservation involves protecting natural resources so they are not wiped out, such as controlling development so it does not overtake sensitive areas.
Ms Loh also said they would like to see broader public consultation beyond that promised with the Environmental Pollution Advisory Committee and Legislative and Executive Councils. She said Mr Cooper had promised to consider this.