Still waiting for official response
Antoine So's report on ecological no-go areas (South China Morning Post, November 6), came as a pleasant surprise, as it seemed to indicate that the Government was planning ahead to preserve Hong Kong's biodiversity.
There is, however, one important point that the report failed to mention. The Department of Ecology and Biodiversity at the University of Hong Kong has already undertaken a biodiversity survey of the territory funded by the Environment and Conservation Fund and co-ordinated by myself and Dr Richard Corlett. A database resulting from that work was provided to the Government in 1999.
It contains hundreds of thousands of distribution records of individual species across Hong Kong and can be used as a tool to ensure that developments planned for the countryside take account of biodiversity hotspots. Jackie Yip, a PhD student in the Department of Ecology and Biodiversity, has used our database to analyse the distribution of rare species inside and outside the current protected-areas system in Hong Kong.
She has made proposals for the protection of new areas that would ensure the conservation of biodiversity. Protection of the additional areas would involve a mere two per cent of the land area of Hong Kong. Ms Yip's proposals were sent to the relevant government departments in June. We are still awaiting an official response. The point I am stressing here is that the Government already has in hand the information it needs to identify and protect no-go areas now. Any delay in action will be to the detriment of our countryside and the biodiversity it supports.
Professor and Head
Department of Ecology and Biodiversity
The University of Hong Kong