Hong Kong's 10-year-old Kau Sai Chau public golf course has become the first course in China to receive the Audubon Co-operative Sanctuary award for environmental protection. William Yiu Yan-pui, executive director for charities at the Jockey Club which is planning a $184 million third course at the club, explains the significance of the award Kau Sai Chau must be one of the most beautiful natural settings for a golf course in the world. We wanted to make sure that the course not only provided a superb new sporting facility but also created a permanent legacy in environmental approach. We have been watching the impact of golf courses on the environment very closely. Since the golf courses opened in 1995, because of the environmental protection measures, many species of flora and fauna have decolonised the island. Dragonflies are a very good bio-indicator because they need a lot of fresh water. We had nine species of dragonfly on the island before the golf courses opened, now there are 37. There were 10 species of butterfly, now there are 28. There were three different species of frogs. Now we are up to 18. The wild boars that were digging up the greens last year are still there too but they're not causing the same problems. We had to have two people driving around at night in a little buggy with headlights on but it actually deterred the wild boar from coming onto the courses. We've subsequently put in some test electric fences using solar power. It seems to be effective. The police now say that shooting parties can be used on the island if the problem persists, but it doesn't seem to be needed at the moment. It's natural for people to think golf courses will cause environment problems. We are putting an artificial facility on a natural island and the concerns of environmentalists are understandable - if you put a golf course into a natural environment you must be doing something that isn't positive. We have worked hard to address these concerns, and we are doing fairly well with regard to environmental impact assessment studies. We are getting good feedback in terms of public consultation. So far things have been generally very positive. We are hoping the Environmental Protection Department will soon give the green light for the rest of the various government departments to proceed with land grants and permits and we hope to get started on the third course early next year if everything goes smoothly. We have what is probably one of the busiest golf courses anywhere. Trying to get a booking at the weekend now is practically impossible, so we are losing a lot of golfers across the border. With the third course we will retain a lot of the spending that is being lost into the mainland as well as addressing a situation in which Hong Kong is not able to entertain the demand from golfers. We aren't looking for a return on investment but hope it will generate a healthy cash flow on green fees. We also want to establish the infrastructure for a golf academy on the island. We are hoping the course will be open at the end of 2007 or the beginning of 2008. We probably need to let the course run for a year to 18 months before the academy can begin to operate. Along with golf training, we hope it will be a training base for youngsters to go into the industry, whether the technical side, grass management, or hospitality. We will start looking at golf schools overseas and see what we can learn from those schools. Teaching English and Putonghua might be part of the process. This facility will enable young people to study to enter the industry and to get certification that will give them employment opportunities at the many courses in China. That is going to be the neatest part of this project.