'This will give a bad impression'
Allowing a densely vegetated site to be stripped bare within the Hong Kong National Geopark would give a bad impression to the United Nations, which will be asked to grant World Heritage status to the geopark next year, a leading conservationist said.
Young Ng Chun-yeong, chairman of the Association for Geoconservation, was referring to a site behind a pristine beach at Sai Wan. The boundaries of the geopark take in the excavation site, which is next to the Sai Kung East Country Park.
Businessman and landowner Simon Lo Lin-shing plans to build an organic garden but villagers say he will in fact build a private lodge with artificial ponds and a tennis court.
'The development will give a bad impression to the authority [United Nations] as it is physically within the geopark and it could be incompatible with the surrounding natural environment,' said Ng who is also a member of the geopark's task force.
'This is not the first destruction that has happened on private sites within or near country parks.
'The government reacts too slowly and should reflect on this,' he said, adding that similar cases occurred at Bride's Pool in Plover Cove Country Park and at Ma Shi Chau, Tai Po.
'Having said that, I don't think the destruction will reduce the chance of Hong Kong's geopark obtaining World Heritage status. The volcanic rocks in our geopark are very rare and unique.'
Although the site falls within the boundary of the High Island Geo-area, designated as part of the Sai Kung Volcanic Rock Region, the Environment Bureau maintains the site should not be seen as part of the geopark as the park does not contain private land.