Lamma Island

Laws ban trade in endangered species but don't protect habitat

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 April, 2010, 12:00am


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As Martin Bode states, the refusal of the Development Opportunities Office to allow the construction of a luxury complex on a secluded beach on southern Lamma is to be applauded ('Don't let anyone spoil Lamma', March 30).

The heritage of Lamma is small fishing villages, not leisure complexes. However, it is a small victory and the worrying destruction continues on other fronts.

The value of Lamma is directly related to its heritage and natural environment.

People flock every weekend to see nature, to walk across the island, to take photos and to have a wonderful seafood meal next to the harbour.

It is a superb day out and is enjoyed by many. Indeed, tourism is completely dependent on the island's heritage and culture.

So it is ironic that, at a time when there is great demand for the preservation of heritage, government policy and legislation appears to be producing exactly the opposite effect.

The recent proposed legislation on fly-tipping is a case in point. Nominally, it is aimed at tackling the destruction of land in rural areas. However, the effect would simply be to issue certificates that legalise this behaviour.

The approved Lamma Island outline zoning plan is the right place to start.

It details a sensible division of land and the uses to which it may be put. However, Mr Bode does not appear to be aware that the plan has no teeth.

If someone decides that their agricultural zoned land is the perfect place to store three metres of building rubble, topped with broken toilets and refrigerators, then all the government can do is advise them that this is not part of the plan.

The plan clearly states that this destruction of agricultural land is not allowed but there is no legislation in place to enforce it. Why not?

However, heritage is more than just land and culture. Lamma is home to many endangered species of plants and animals.

The value of these unique species is great and it is recognised in legislation.

Trading in such plants and animals is an extremely severe offence, punishable by prison sentences and hefty fines.

However, destroying their habitats is just as sure a way to ensure their destruction and the government takes no action when people turn a blind eye and do just this.

We all recognise that these selfish and short-sighted people are destroying the heritage of Hong Kong, that for their own short-term gain they are destroying our children's inheritance.

Why can't the government recognise this and put a stop to it?

Jos Vernon, Lamma