The Environment, Transport and Works Bureau has received nearly 60 submissions for its nature conservation policy review on protecting Hong Kong's natural heritage and preserving ecological sites. The three-month public consultation exercise, which will end tomorrow, seeks public views on the introduction of a scoring system for assessing the ecological importance of privately owned plots of land and ways to better conserve them. 'Up to October 14, we received 56 submissions from a variety of sectors, such as academics, non-governmental organisations and individuals,' a bureau spokesman said. The consultation document aims to conserve privately owned sites with high ecological values that are under constant threat of development. Stephen Lau Ka-man, chief executive officer of the World Wide Fund for Nature Hong Kong (WWF), said yesterday the organisation supported the proposed private-public partnership scheme to manage sites of high ecological value and allow conditional development at these sites. But the group believed the scope of the review should not be confined to private land in dispute. 'We are disappointed. The title of the [policy] is misleading because it only talks about conserving sites of ecological importance on private land, but has not mentioned other essential perspectives, including the conservation of public land, genetic and species diversity [and] marine biodiversity,' Mr Lau said. The environmental group also said it was too early for the government to rule out expropriating key plots of ecologically important land, which could cost more than $20 billion. That option should be kept alive until Hong Kong's finances strengthen, Mr Lau said. The group urged the government to modify its proposed scoring system for rating the ecological value of a particular site by giving more emphasis to species diversity. Under the system, the government hopes to identify about 12 sites located across the territory. The group also suggested a trust be set up to provide financial resources to help conserve these sites in the long term.