19 Walled buildings in Fung Lok Wai
extirpate firefly endemic to HK
Green Sense is seriously concerned about the partnership between WWFHK and Cheung Kong (Holdings) Limited (Cheung Kong) for developing Fung Lok Wai in Yuen Long.
The development plan aims to provide about 2,000 flats at the ecologically sensitive Fung Lok Wai, a piece of wetland adjacent to the Hong Kong Ramsar Site. The proposed 19 residential blocks would take up about five per cent of the site.
Green Sense strongly opposes the way in which WWFHK and Cheung Kong develop the above captioned site with the following reasons:
(1) Pteroptyx MaiPo facing imminent extinction crisis
The Environmental Impact Assessment report of Fung Lok Wai was approved on Sept 18, 2008 after Cheung Kong proposed the project. However, the firefly Pteroptyx Maipo – a species endemic to the Hong Kong Ramsar Site, was not known at that time.
Studies in North America showed that strong stray lights may severely influence the courtship behaviour of fireflies, or even drive a species to extinction. Firefly adults use light as sex communication signal. Increasing the background light would “wash out” the brightness of firefly signals and decrease the successful rate of mating. Artificial light may also cause confusion and thus disorientation of some fireflies. They regard the artificial light as emitted by their mating partner and fly to the wrong places. Increasing the background light would also illuminate and reveal the fireflies (adults and larvae) to predators and break the balance and outcome of predator-prey interactions.
Therefore a supplementary Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) should be conducted before the approval of planning application, in order to find out the impacts of the land development on the firefly and to propose respective mitigation measures. A prior EIA does not guarantee the firefly will not be influenced by the development nor being driven to extinction finally, but firefly still got a chance. Cheung Kong Holdings and WWF Hong Kong do not even fulfill such a humble request.
(2) A ridiculous way to meet“no-net-loss of wetlands” principle
The project area occupies 80.1 ha, 90% of which is existing wetland, primarily in the form of fishponds. The site lies within the Wetland Conservation area under the Town Planning Board Guidelines 12B (TPB PG-No. 12B, April 1999), and half of which also belongs to the Mai Po Inner Deep Bay Ramsar Site.
When considering the development proposals in the Deep Bay Area, the Town Planning Board has adopted the principle of “no-net-loss of wetlands”. The principle states that there should be no decline in wetland or ecological functions of fish ponds which serve as a source to provide food and roosting grounds for birds and other species.
In order to meet the above principle, WWFHK and Cheung Kong “cut corners” by suggesting the removal of embankments that separate the ponds, then to combine those ponds and form larger ones. It is just a tricky way to “cancel out” the loss of 6 fish ponds that need to be filled up for the development project. Also, it should be noted that the birds that need to stand on the side of ponds to get food would be affected by getting rid of the embankments of the fish ponds.
It is unimaginable that WWFHK has found the above approach feasible and credible. We are afraid that the approval of the above application would set an undesirable precedent for many other similar developments in the Ramsar area.
(3) “Walled buildings”
The Fung Lok Wai project involves 19 blocks of flats, ranging from 15 to 19 storeys high. These tall and bulky wall-like buildings have merged a single-line array, which affects the ventilation to residents living in the nearby village houses. Also, the 19 residential towers will be like giants to those birds that like flying around, and they will no longer come. Ironically, when the project is completed, only the residents living in the luxury apartments could enjoy the scene.
At the same time, the site is located in front of the Hong Kong Wetland Park. If those wall-like buildings are in place, over 3 million local and overseas visitors to the park every year will no longer enjoy this wetland type landscape.
Green Sense is deeply worried about the ecological destruction arising from the Fung Lok Wai development project.
We strongly request：
- Cheung Kong to fulfill their corporate social responsibility by temporarily suspending the implementation of the project and withdrawing the planning application.
- WWFHK, as a partner of this project, to use its influence to help convince Cheung Kong to withdraw the planning application. At the same time, a supplementary EIA should be conducted to evaluate the impact of the proposed project on the firefly.
- The government to clarify whether Cheung Kong has the property development right at the Fung Lok Wai site. If yes, we hope that the developers will be allowed to transfer their approved gross floor areas to be developed in the site to other suitable areas when considering the high ecological value of this piece of wetland.
All words and expressions should be construed according to the press release in Chinese