Anti-flood measures should include wetland protection
I refer to the article 'Too late to hold back the deluge' (South China Morning Post, June 15), which noted the Government's plans regarding 'major anti-flood projects'. World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Hong Kong contends that wetlands provide the best solution to our flooding problems.
Wetlands, such as fishponds and wet agricultural fields, provide natural flood-storage capacity, meaning they act like a sponge to soak up the rainfall and runoff. However, conversion of fishponds, often illegally, into vehicle dumps, container parks, car-repair workshops, etc, plus the development of new towns meant that between 1986 and 1996, more than 700 hectares of fishponds in the New Territories were filled in. As a result, the frequency and magnitude of flooding has increased.
If the Government is serious about '[pinpointing] the cause of the flooding' and addressing the issue, it cannot just rely on an engineering quick-fix. The approach to solving the problem of flooding must be fundamentally changed to one that preserves the natural flood-storage capacity.
Such a change would require integrating considerations of wetland protection into development planning. Through review by WWF Hong Kong of environmental-impact-assessment reports, we note that some drainage channels have adopted more environmentally friendly designs. But more needs to be done. In particular, the required change in approach and attitude will not happen unless all parties involved - engineers, town planners, government officials, villagers and others - recognise the valuable role of wetlands for flood alleviation.
ALEX S. K. YAU
World Wide Fund For Nature