9                                            TERRESTRIAL ECOLOGY

9.1                                      Introduction

This Section presents the baseline conditions of ecological resources within the Study Area (including 500m from the boundary of the Ecological Reserve, Development Site and Sha Lo Tung Road Improvement), and the results of an assessment of the potential ecological impacts arising from the construction and operation of the Project.  Baseline conditions for ecological components of the terrestrial and associated aquatic environment were evaluated based on information from available literature and recent ecological field update surveys conducted during both dry and wet seasons for the purposes of this ecological assessment.  Measures required to mitigate any identified ecological impacts have been recommended, where appropriate.

9.2                                      Relevant Legislation and Assessment Criteria

The local relevant regulations, legislation and guidelines for the protection of species and habitats of ecological importance include the following:

·            Technical Memorandum for the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance (Cap 499) (EIAO TM);

·            Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines Chapter 10 (HKPSG);

·            Forests and Countryside Ordinance (Cap 96) and its subsidiary legislation the Forestry Regulations;

·            Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap 170);

·            Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap 586);

·            Country Parks Ordinance (Cap 208);

·            Town Planning Ordinance (Cap 131); and

·            PRC Regulations and Guidelines.

Annex 16 of the EIAO-TM sets out the general approach and methodology for assessments of ecological impacts arising from a project or proposal, to allow a complete and objective identification, prediction and evaluation of the potential ecological impacts.  Annex 8 recommends the criteria that can be used for evaluating ecological impacts.

Chapter 10 of the HKPSG covers planning considerations relevant to conservation.  This chapter details the principles of conservation, the conservation of natural landscape and habitats, historic buildings, archaeological sites and other antiquities.  It also addresses the issue of enforcement.  The appendices list the legislation and administrative controls for conservation, other conservation related measures in Hong Kong and Government departments involved in conservation.

The Forests and Countryside Ordinance (Cap 96) prohibits felling, cutting, burning or destroying of trees and live plants in forests and plantations on Government land.  Related subsidiary Regulations prohibit the picking, felling or possession of listed rare and protected plant species.  The list of protected species in Hong Kong, which comes under the Forestry Regulations, was last amended on 11 June 1993 under the Forestry (Amendment) Regulation 1993 made under Section 3 of the Forests and Countryside Ordinance.

Under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap 170), designated wild animals are protected from being hunted, whilst their nests and eggs are protected from destruction and removal.  All birds and most mammals are protected under this Ordinance.  The Second Schedule of the Ordinance that lists all the animals protected was last revised in June 1992. 

The Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap 586) was enacted to align Hong Kong to control regime with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). With effect from 1 December 2006, it replaces the Animals and Plants (Protection of Endangered Species) Ordinance (Cap 187).  The purpose of the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance is to restrict the import and export of species listed in CITES Appendices so as to protect wildlife from overexploitation or extinction.  The Ordinance is primarily related to controlling trade in threatened and endangered species and restricting the local possession of them.

The Country Parks Ordinance (Cap 208) provides for the designation and management of Country Parks and Special Areas.  Country Parks are designated for the purpose of nature conservation, countryside recreation and outdoor education.  Special Areas are reserved generally for the purpose of nature conservation.

The amended Town Planning Ordinance (Cap 131) provides for the designation of coastal Protection Areas, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Green Belt or other specified uses that promote conservation or protection of the environment, e.g., Conservation Areas.  The authority responsible for administering the Town Planning Ordinance is the Town Planning Board.

The Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC) is a Contracting Party to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity of 1992.  The Convention requires signatories to make active efforts to protect and manage their biodiversity resources.  The Government of the Hong Kong SAR has stated that it will be “committed to meeting the environmental objectives” of the Convention (PELB 1996).  In 1988 the PRC ratified the Wild Animal Protection Law, which lays down basic principles for protecting wild animals.  The Law prohibits killing of protected animals, controls hunting, and protects the habitats of wild animals, both protected and non-protected.  The Law also provides for the creation of lists of animals protected at the state level, under Class I and Class II.  There are 96 animal species in Class I and 156 in Class II.  Class I provides a higher level of protection for animals considered to be more threatened.

9.3                                      Description of the Study Area

The establishment of a baseline ecological profile of the Study Area (covering areas including 500m from the Ecological Reserve, Development Site and Sha Lo Tung Road Improvement) was based on reviewing the available literature, previous field surveys (since 1990’s) and recent ecological field surveys.  The Project includes three components: Ecological Reserve, Development Site and Sha Lo Tung Road Improvement (Figure 3.1). 

The Ecological Reserve will cover the Sha Lo Tung Valley, including Sha Lo Tung SSSI and stream, which are recognised as ecologically significant areas.  The setup of the Ecological Reserve is to maintain, protect, restore and enhance the ecological resources of the SLT Valley.  This will be achieved by preventing unauthorised incompatible activities, managing and restoring habitats at the “best” succession state, and by enhancing grassland and woodland habitat.  Due to the sensitivity of SLT Valley, the proposed action plan and enhancement works should be approved by the Government statutory fund and/or relevant government departments including AFCD and will be implemented progressively. 

The Development Site is located at the entrance of Sha Lo Tung Valley and surrounded by Conservation Area (located to the west), Sha Lo Tung SSSI (located to the north) and Pat Sin Leng Country Park (located to the east and west) (Figure 2.2).  The majority of the Development Site is located in uphill areas covered by grassland-shrubland mosaic with a number of graves while secondary woodland was found in the valley of the site.  Sha Lo Tung Road is the only road access link between Ting Kok Road and Sha Lo Tung Valley, and Fung Yuen Valley SSSI is found located to the west of the road (Figure 3.22).  It should be noted that the Development Site and Sha Lo Tung Road Improvement avoids encroachment upon Conservation Area, Sha Lo Tung SSSI, Fung Yuen Valley SSSI and Pat Sin Leng Country Park.

9.4                                      Ecological Resources within Pat Sin Leng Country Park, Conservation Area, Sha Lo Tung Valley and Fung Yuen Valley Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

Sha Lo Tung Valley is of recognized importance for conservation, with particular focus on dragonflies and stream habitats.  The wider Sha Lo Tung area, including the streamcourse down to Hok Tau, is an important site for breeding and development of an extremely diverse community of odonates.  Currently, over 70 species of odonates have been recorded in Sha Lo Tung Valley since 2002, out of a total of 116 known in Hong Kong, and the Valley is identified as the most species-rich site in Hong Kong.  Many of the species recorded are stream specialists and include the Hainan Hooktail Lamelligomphus hainanensis and Small Dragonhunter Sieboldius alexanderi, all considered to be rare.  The Clubtailed Cruiser Macromia urania (“Least Concern” in IUCN Red List) and the endemic Spangled Shadow-emerald Macromidia ellenae have also been recorded.  The streamcourses and associated riparian habitat have been designated as an SSSI zone to afford protection to the dragonfly fauna.

Similar to other rural, isolated sites in Hong Kong, Sha Lo Tung Valley supports a considerable diversity of additional fauna including butterflies, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.  Species of conservation interest observed at the site over the past 14 years include the Chinese Pangolin Manis pentadactyla and the Three-banded Box Terrapin Cuora trifasciata.  These species have international and China-wide vulnerability ratings due to their widespread consumption and use by local people.  The Hong Kong Paradise Fish Macropodus hongongensis also occurs within the marsh and perennial stream habitats at Sha Lo Tung, and while this fish occurs at several other sites in Hong Kong, it is currently treated as potentially endemic.  Bird species of conservation interest include Bonelli's Eagle Hieraaetus fasciatus, and the Large Grass Warbler Gramminicola bengalensis. 

It is recognised that the habitat quality within Sha Lo Tung Valley is degrading due to the threats such as use of four wheel drive vehicles, hill fires, wargames and vegetation removal.  In addition, the major habitats in the valley (ie wet and dry abandoned agricultural lands) may also alter to marshy wetland or woodland respectively through natural succession if given time and protection from disturbance.

Pat Sin Leng Country Park, Conservation Area, Fung Yuen Valley SSSI and Sha Lo Tung SSSI are located close to the Development Site and Sha Lo Tung Road Improvement.  Pat Sin Leng Country Park was designated in 1978 with an area of 3,125 hectares and surrounds the Ecological Reserve and Development Site.  Around Lau Shui Heung Reservoir and Hok Tau Reservoir there is an abundance of local and exotic species of plants, with a rich diversity of avifauna and general wildlife ([1]).  Fung shui woods containing Camphor trees, as well as native figs and bamboo species and a wide range of native trees ([2]) are found in abandoned villages within the Country Park.

The Conservation Area currently is mainly wet abandoned agricultural land, surrounded by Sha Lo Tung SSSI, Pat Sin Leng Country Park and Green Belt (the Development Site).

Fung Yuen Valley SSSI was designated for its outstanding butterfly community, comprising more than 125 species of butterfly alone.  The forested ravines are the breeding site of some rare butterflies. 

Sha Lo Tung SSSI was designated for its streamcourses and the freshwater marsh in the north-eastern portion of Sha Lo Tung.  A total of 21.61 hectares covering the streamcourses, a 30m wide buffer area on both sides of the streamcourses and woodlands are designated as important habitats for breeding and development of a diverse community of dragonflies and other aquatic fauna such as freshwater fish and amphibians ([3]).

9.5                                      Literature Review of Ecological Characteristics and Historical Ecological Surveys

9.5.1                                Introduction

A literature review was conducted to characterise the existing condition within the Study Area and to identify habitats and species of potential importance in the area.  The literature review included Government and private sector reports, independent and Government published literature, academic studies, vegetation maps and land use maps.  Reviewed information included, but was not limited to, the following:

·            Sha Lo Tung Development Environmental Impact Assessment (1993). Sha Lo Tung Development Co. Ltd;

·            Sha Lo Tung Revised Development Plan Supplementary EIA (1995).  Sha Lo Tung Development Co. Ltd;

·            Rezoning Request for Comprehensive Development at Sha Lo Tung EIA (1999). Sha Lo Tung Development Co. Ltd;

·            Rezoning request to Amend Sha Lo Tung DPA Plan Supporting Information (2000). Sha Lo Tung Development Co.Ltd;

·            The Hong Kong Nightbird Survey 2000-01 ([4])

·            Butterfly Larval Food Plant and Rare Plant Survey at Fung Yuen.  Department of Biology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (December 2007);

·            Preparation of Five-Year Management Plan for Butterfly Conservation in Fung Yuen Valley Site of Special Scientific Interest.  Final Report for AFCD. Asia Ecological Consultants Ltd (2008); and

·            Sha Lo Tung Species List (February 2002 – mid December 2011). Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (Ecological information presented in Annex F1). 

Extensive ecological surveys covering both wet and dry seasons have been conducted within Sha Lo Tung Valley and along Sha Lo Tung Road, with particular focus on the Sha Lo Tung SSSI, over the past 12 years ([5])([6])([7])([8]).  The previous study areas covered the whole Sha Lo Tung Valley including Cheung Uk, Lei Uk, and Sha Lo Tung Lo Wai, Fung Yuen Valley SSSI, Sha Lo Tung SSSI, Pat Sin Leng Country Park, Cloudy Hill, Ping Fung Shan Range and Sha Lo Tung Road. 

9.5.2                                Habitat and Vegetation

The ecological significance of Sha Lo Tung Valley is well recognised and documented.  The habitats found in Sha Lo Tung Valley and along Sha Lo Tung Road (the Study Area) during the previous studies included grassland, shrubland, abandoned agricultural paddies, woodland (fung shui, riverside and regenerating woodlands), plantation and freshwater streams.   

451 species of plants have been recorded within Sha Lo Tung Valley ([9]) ([10]), 16 of which were classified as plant species under protection.  75% were found in woodland, 12% in shrubland, 10% in grassland and 3% in streamlets and along stream banks.  The only predominantly natural woodlands were two Fung Shui Woodlands behind Cheung Uk and Lei Uk villages, and the two disturbed woodlands near the convergence of the four main streams. The woodlands are Subtropical Monsoon Evergreen Broad-leaved Forest communities, dominated by Castanopsis fissa, Schefflera heptaphylla and Schima superba.  Plant species previously recorded inside Sha Lo Tung Valley and protected under Forests & Countryside Ordinance are:

·            Camellia caudata, Pavetta hongkongensis, Magnolia championii, Cleisostoma teres, Goodyera procera, Habenaria dentata, Pecteilis susannae, Spiranthes hongkongensis, Rhododendron simsii, Liparis ferruginea, Aristolochia fordiana, and Brainea insignis

Plant species previously recorded inside Sha Lo Tung Valley listed in the China Plant Red Data Book are:

·            Aquilaria sinensis, Viburnum hanceanum and Artocarpus hypargyreus.

The woodland habitats have suffered from cutting and repeated hill fires and the shrubland areas are dominated by fire climax community ([11]).  Most species present in the shrubland are fire resistant.  Disturbance of hill fires on the existing habitats is intensive, occurring at least once every three to five years as there are a number of graves and urns located within the Sha Lo Tung Valley.  The fires have the effect of maintaining the habitat as dominated by shrubby grassland or shrubland, and effectively interrupt the natural succession of the habitats.

Some old paddies have been colonized by grass communities following the cessation of agricultural activities.  Dominant species include Microstegium gratum in the flat areas covered with water ([12]).  Plant species recorded in streams were emergents or submergents and the assemblages were low in diversity.  The SSSI zones along the streams protected more than 9 ha of abandoned paddy.  This large area abuts the stream courses and provides continuity with the stream habitats. 

9.5.3                                Mammals

Sixteen mammal species were recorded within the Study Area (mainly within Sha Lo Tung Valley), including Barking Deer (Red Muntjak), Chinese Ferret Badger, Chinese Pangolin, Wild Boar, Chinese Porcupine, Leopard Cat, Javan Mongoose, unidentified Civet, Chestnut Spiny Rat, Common Rat, Ryukyu Mouse, two species of Sladen’s Rat, Greater Roundleaf Bat, Japanese Pipistrelle, Lesser Yellow Bat and one unidentified bat species ([13]) ([14]).  All species, except Wild Boar, Chestnut Spiny Rat and Common Rat, Ryukyu Mouse and Sladen’s Rats are protected under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance.  AFCD’s biodiversity survey data (February 2002 – mid December 2011) also showed that fourteen mammal species were recorded within the Sha Lo Tung Valley (only within the Sha Lo Tung Priority Site, not areas at the fringe of Sha Lo Tung) (Annex F1).

9.5.4                                Birds

There were over 110 species of birds recorded within the Study Area (about 30% of Hong Kong’s total) ([15]) ([16]).  Of these, seventeen species were PRC nationally protected species, including the Class I protected Imperial Eagle.  Sixteen species including Chinese Pond Heron, Black Kite, Common Buzzard, Bonelli’s Eagle, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Crested Goshawk, Crested Serpent Eagle, Northern Sparrow Hawk, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Greater Coucal, Lesser Coucal, Kestrel, Black Baza, Emerald Dove, Collared Scops Owl and Crested Bunting were listed in CITES Appendix II and the Imperial Eagle was listed in CITES Appendix I ([17]).  The results of the Hong Kong Nightbird Survey (2000-2001) also showed that Sha Lo Tung-Hok Tau is one of the best sites in terms of total numbers of nightbirds detected and species diversity ([18]).  With reference to AFCD’s biodiversity survey data (February 2002 – mid December 2011), a total of 83 bird species were recorded within Sha Lo Tung Valley (only within the Sha Lo Tung Priority Site, not areas at the fringe of Sha Lo Tung) (Annex F1).

9.5.5                                Herpetofauna (Amphibians & Reptiles)

Eight lizard/skink, ten snake, twelve amphibian and one Terrapin species were recorded within the Study Area ([19]) ([20]).  Of particular note were rare reptile species Three-banded Box Terrapin Cuora trifasciata.  The Common Rat Snake Pytas mucosus, the Lesser Spiny Frog Paa exilispinosa, and the Hong Kong Cascade Frog Amolops hongkongensis are considered as species of conservation interest.  The Hong Kong Cascade Frog was found breeding in the streams at Sha Lo Tung.  With reference to AFCD’s biodiversity survey data (February 2002 – mid December 2011), five amphibians including the Asian Common Toad Bufo melanostictus and five reptiles were recorded within Sha Lo Tung Valley (only within the Sha Lo Tung Priority Site, not areas at the fringe of Sha Lo Tung) (Annex F1).

9.5.6                                Butterflies

A total of 128 species and 57 species were reported at Fung Yuen and Sha Lo Tung, respectively, in which 55 species were found in both sites ([21])([22])([23])([24]).  For those recorded at Sha Lo Tung, five species were considered to be uncommon, one rare and two very rare.  For those recorded at Fung Yuen, 40 species were considered to be uncommon and seven rare.  Rare species recorded included Caltoris bromus, Halpe porus, Catochrysops sp., Pelopidas subochraceus, Catochrysops strabo, Leptosia nina and Potanthus pseudomaesa.  With reference to AFCD’s biodiversity survey data (February 2002 – mid December 2011), a total of 100 butterfly species were recorded within Sha Lo Tung Valley (only within the Sha Lo Tung Priority Site, not areas at the fringe of Sha Lo Tung) (Annex F1).

9.5.7                                Odonates (Dragonfly & Damselfly)

According to the previous studies, Sha Lo Tung Valley supported over 70 species of Odonates ([25])([26]) out of the total of 116 species found in Hong Kong.  Two endemic dragonfly species, Elegant Clubtail Leptogomphus elegans hongkongensis and Spangled Shadow-emerald Macromidia ellenae, out of the 64 Sha Lo Tung species, are not known from any other location in Hong Kong.  Twenty-seven of the Sha Lo Tung species are stream specialists (ie they do not occur in areas lacking stream habitat).  Three of the species are considered to be rare (as opposed to common or uncommon).  The checklist compiled by AFCD (February 2002 – mid December 2011) showed that 57 odonate species, were recorded within Sha Lo Tung Valley (only within the Sha Lo Tung Priority Site, not areas at the fringe of Sha Lo Tung) (Annex F1).

9.5.8                                Stream Fauna

Fourteen freshwater fishes were recorded within Sha Lo Tung streams ([27])([28])([29])([30]).  AFCD’s biodiversity survey data (February 2002 – mid December 2011) also showed that 14 freshwater fish species including Hong Kong Paradise Fish Macropodus hongkongensis and Predaceous chub Parazacco spilurus (both of conservation interest), were recorded within Sha Lo Tung Valley (only within the Sha Lo Tung Priority Site, not areas at the fringe of Sha Lo Tung) (Annex F1).

There was one main stream with three major tributaries within Sha Lo Tung area.  Forty six macroinvertebrate taxa were recorded in four different stream sites in February, March, June and September 1992 ([31]).  Non-insect taxa and insects taxa numbered 13 (19%) and 56 (81%) of the total 69 taxa respectively.  A number of caddisflies were found at the stream in Sha Lo Tung, such as Anisocentropus, Psilotreta, Goerodes and Helicopsyche. 

9.6                                      Ecological Field Surveys – Survey Methodology

9.6.1                                Introduction

Although there is extensive ecological baseline information available within Sha Lo Tung Valley as well as Fung Yuen Valley SSSI, the potentially directly affected areas, including the Development Site and Sha Lo Tung Road, have limited information.  As a consequence, detailed ecological surveys in this area, with special focus on the Development Site and areas along Sha Lo Tung Road, were required. 

To supplement the limited available information within the Development Site and areas along Sha Lo Tung Road and, to verify the present status of Sha Lo Tung Valley, a total of 24 months of terrestrial and aquatic ecology baseline surveys were conducted to collect baseline information of the Study Area.  The field surveys were conducted in September 2004, July and December 2005, January and February 2006, February to May 2007, April, June, July and October 2008, June to August 2009, November 2009 to April 2010, June and November 2010, September and October 2011 covering both the wet and dry seasons.  Figure 9.1 shows the Study Area for the ecological update.  The surveys were designed to identify the existing ecological status of the area in order to facilitate this ecological impact assessment and to recommend any appropriate mitigation measures.  Special attention was paid to those areas which will be directly impacted by the proposed development as well as the Sha Lo Tung Valley. 

The following ecological surveys were undertaken for the assessment:

·            Habitat and vegetation surveys with special focus on uncommon plants such as orchids, Aristolochia tagala and Viburnum hanceanum;

·           Mammal surveys;

·           Bird surveys with special focus on uncommon birds such as Large Grass Warbler and Savannah Nightjar;

·           Herpetofauna surveys with special focus on Three-banded Box Terrapin;

·           Butterfly and dragonfly surveys; and,

·           Aquatic community surveys (including freshwater macroinvertebrates and fish).

9.6.2                                Habitat and Vegetation

Field surveys focusing on habitat and vegetation (including trees) within the Study Area were performed in September 2004, July 2005, January 2006, February 2007, March 2007, December 2007, April and October 2008, July, August and November 2009, April, June and November 2010, September and October 2011 (covering both the wet and dry seasons).  The aim was to record ecological data within the Study Area and establish / update the ecological profile.  Habitats were mapped based on government aerial photos (year 2011) and field ground truthing.  Representative areas of each habitat type were surveyed on foot.  Plant species of each habitat type encountered and their relative abundance were recorded with special attention to rare or protected species.  Nomenclature and conservation status of plant species follow Xing et al. (2000) ([32]) and Wu and Lee (2000) ([33]) and Siu (2000) ([34]). 

9.6.3                                Mammal

Mammal surveys (included day and night-time surveys, covering both the wet and dry seasons) were carried out in July and December 2005, January 2006, February, April and May 2007, June, July and October 2008, June to August 2009 and November 2009, April, June and November 2010, September and October 2011.  As most mammals occur at low densities, all sightings, tracks, and signs of mammals (including dropping) were actively searched along the survey transects (see Figure 9.1).  Nomenclature for mammals follows AFCD (2006) ([35]).  No quantification of abundance of mammals in the Study Area was made, due to the difficulties in translating sights and tracks (eg burrows) to actual abundance.

9.6.4                                Bird

Bird surveys were carried out in July 2005, December 2005, January 2006 February 2007, April and May 2007, October 2008, June to August 2009, November 2009, April, June and November 2010, September and October 2011  (included day and night-time surveys, covering both the wet and dry seasons).  The bird communities of the major habitats (secondary woodland, plantation, grassland shrubland mosaic, wet and dry abandoned agricultural land, stream and developed area) within the Study Area were surveyed using the transect/ point count method subject to the on-site conditions.  Locations of sampling points and transects are shown in Figure 9.1.  Ten minutes were spent counting birds at each sampling point, and all birds seen or heard within 30 m of each point were counted and identified to species where possible.  Birds flying directly overhead at each sampling point (eg birds of prey, swifts and swallows, corvids) were also included in the sampling point records.  Signs of breeding (eg nests, recently fledged juveniles) within the Study Area were also recorded, if any.  Bird species encountered outside counting points but within the Study Area were also recorded to produce a complete species list.  Ornithological nomenclature in this report follows Viney et al (2006) ([36]). 

9.6.5                                Herpetofauna

Herpetofauna surveys (included day and night-time surveys, covering both the wet and dry seasons) were carried out in July 2005, December 2005, January 2006, February, April and May 2007, June, July and October 2008, June to August 2009, November 2009, April, June and November 2010, September and October 2011.  Herpetofauna surveys were conducted through direct observation and active searching or trapping/ caging if considered appropriate, in all major habitat types along the survey transects (see Figure 9.1) and in potential hiding places such as among leaf litter, inside holes, under stones and logs within the Study Area.  Auditory detection of species-specific calls was also used to survey frogs and toads.  During the surveys, all reptiles and amphibians sighted and heard were recorded.  Nomenclature and status used for reptiles follows Karen et al 1998 ([37]) and AFCD 2006 ([38]) while that of amphibians follows AFCD 2005 ([39]).

9.6.6                                Butterflies and Odonates

Dragonfly, damselfly and butterfly surveys (covering both the wet and dry seasons) were carried out in July 2005, December 2005, January 2006, February, April and May 2007, June, July and October 2008, June to August 2009, November 2009, April 2010 and November 2010, September and October 2011.  Dragonflies, damselflies and butterflies of different habitats within the Study Area were surveyed using the transect / point count method subject to the on-site conditions.  The sampling points and transects for dragonflies and butterflies are shown in Figure 9.1.  Ten minutes were spent at each sampling point, dragonflies, damselflies and butterflies within 30 m of the survey points were identified and counted.  Relative abundance of dragonflies and butterflies in each type of habitat were estimated.  Dragonflies, damselflies and butterflies encountered outside counting points (ie along transects) but within the Study Area were recorded in order to produce a complete species list.  Nomenclature for butterflies follows Walthew 1997 ([40]) and Yiu 2004 ([41]), and dragonfly/ damselfly nomenclature follows Wilson (2004) ([42]).

9.6.7                                Aquatic Community

Streams identified within the Study Area were visited.  All streams were within the Ecological Reserve.  Some small pools of water supporting aquatic life were found in the wet abandoned agricultural land within the secondary woodland to the northeast of (but outside) the Development Site.  Surveys for freshwater fish and other aquatic fauna (ie amphibian and reptile) were carried out in September 2004, December 2005, February, April and May 2007, June, July and October 2008, July and August 2009, April, June and November 2010, September and October 2011 (covering both the wet and dry seasons).  Freshwater fish were studied by methods including bank side observation, active search using hand nets, and fish capturing using fish cages.  Surveys for aquatic macroinvertebrates were carried out in the perennial streams in July and August 2009.  Aquatic macroinvertebrates were studied by direct observation and active searching by hand nets and standard field sampling techniques (eg kick sampling).  Active sampling was carried out for most parts of the stream course.  Organisms, mostly aquatic macroinvertebrates (eg freshwater crabs & shrimps, freshwater molluscs and aquatic insect larvae) were recorded and identified.

9.7                                      Results of Ecological Field Update

9.7.1                                Existing Habitat and Vegetation

Habitats found within the Study Area included Fung shui woods, secondary woodland, plantation, grassland shrubland mosaic, stream, wet and dry abandoned agricultural land, active agricultural land and developed area.  Habitats found are shown in the habitat map (Figure 9.2).  Photographic records of various habitats recorded within the Study are presented in Figures 9.3 to 9.5.  A total of 431 plant species were recorded during the study periods (Annex F2).  Table 9.1 lists the number of plant species recorded in, and total area occupied by, each habitat in the Study Area in 2011.  Hance’s Viburnum Viburnum hanceanum, a native shrub listed in the ‘Rare and Precious Plants of Hong Kong’, which had previously been found in the Study Area, was not recorded during the ecological field updates.

Table 9.1        Plant Species Recorded within Each Habitat of Study Area

Habitat

Number of Plant Species

Total Area within the Study Area (ha)

Fung shui woods

 76

~  3.1

Secondary Woodland

233

~123.2

Plantation

130

~ 20.1

Grassland shrubland Mosaic

163

~ 230.0

Wet Abandoned Agricultural Land

105

~ 27.3

Dry Abandoned Agricultural Land

 82

~ 18.5

Active Agricultural Land

 49

~  2.0

Stream

 95

~  9.5 km

Developed Area

121

~ 71.9

Secondary Woodland and Fung Shui Woods

Secondary woodland patches were mainly found at the western part of Sha Lo Tung Road, western part of Fung Yuen Valley and scattered in ravines and sheltered hillsides.  The secondary woodlands were mostly mature woodlands of age of more than 40 years.  The oldest woodlands were the Fung Shui woods located behind Cheung Uk, Lei Uk and Lo Wai Villages in Sha Lo Tung Valley.  The woodland was dominated by climax native tree species such as Schima superba, accompanied by some native tree species including Schefflera heptaphylla, Endospermum chinense, Cinnamomum camphora and Aporusa dioica.  Canopy species reached a height of 8-12 m and some trees of considerable size were found.  The understorey was densely vegetated and dominated by woody species including Litsea rotundifolia, Psychotria asiatica, the climbers Gnetum montanum and Smilax china and seedlings of canopy species such as Schima superba and Schefflera heptaphylla. 

There were 76 plant species recorded within the Fung Shui woodland (Annex F2), including three of conservation interest (Terete Cleisostoma Cleisostoma simondii, Hong Kong Pavetta Pavetta hongkongensis and Lamb of Tartary Cibotium barometz) which were also found in secondary woodland  The floristic diversity of Fung Shui woods was low to moderate and the structural complexity was moderate.  The ecological value was considered to be high.

There was a total of 233 plant species recorded within the secondary woodland (Annex F2).  Ten plant species of conservation interest, including Incense Tree Aquilaria sinensis, Terete Cleisostoma Cleisostoma simondii, Common Tutcheria Tutcheria spectabilis, Indian Birthwort Aristolochia tagala, Hong Kong Pavetta Pavetta hongkongensis, Lamb of Tartary Cibotium barometz, Hairy Fruited Ormosia Tree Ormosia pachycarpa, Illigera Illigera celebica, Hong Kong Mucuna Mucuna championii and Willow-leaved Camellia Camellia salicifolia, were recorded (for locations refer to Figure 9.6; photographic records are shown in Figures 9.7 & 9.8). 

Incense Tree is a common tree in Hong Kong but is listed in Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap 586).  It is also listed as a Category II protected plant in China, in the List of Wild Plants under State Protection and is listed as ‘vulnerable’ by both the China Plant Red Data Book and by IUCN (2010).  Terete Cleisostoma is an epiphytic orchid species recorded on mature trees in the Sha Lo Tung valley.  The whole family of orchids is protected under Forestry and Countryside Ordinance (Cap 96) and Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap 586).  Indian Birthwort is a larval foodplant of the Birdwing butterfly and was recorded in Fung Yuen Valley which is designated as a Butterfly Protection Area. 

Hong Kong Pavetta is a common understory species found in woodland habitat in Hong Kong and is frequently found in the Study Area.  Lamb of Tartary is a very common fern locally but is listed as vulnerable and a Category II protected plant in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the List of Wild Plants under State Protection as well as being listed in Appendix 2 of CITES.  Both Hong Kong Pavetta and Lamb of Tartary are used in Chinese medicine. 

Terete Cleisostoma, Common Tutcheria, Indian Birthwort and Hong Kong Pavetta are protected under Forestry and Countryside Ordinance (Cap. 96).  Hairy Fruited Ormosia Tree has a restricted distribution in Hong Kong while it is endangered in China ([43]).  Illigera is a very rare butterfly larval foodplant locally and is protected under Forestry and Countryside Ordinance (Cap 96).  Hong Kong Mucuna is a rare climber locally and endangered in China ([44]) although it is not protected in Hong Kong.  Willow-leaved Camellia is a common tree in Hong Kong, but the whole genus Camellia is protected under Forestry and Countryside Ordinance (Cap 96).  The floristic diversity and the structural complexity of secondary woodlands was high.  The ecological value of the secondary woodland was considered to be moderate to high.  The photographic record of secondary woodland is shown in Figure 9.3.

Plantation

Plantation was located mainly at the south of the Study Area from the WSD service reservoir downhill to Ting Kok Road, in Tai Po Industrial Estate and along the roads with small patches found in the north and to the west of Fung Yuen.  Most trees were exotic species, including Acacia confusa, Pinus elliotii and Lophostemon confertus.  A study of old government aerial photos indicates that the plantation along Sha Lo Tung Road is about 20 years old, probably planted after the construction of the service reservoir.  Some native tree, shrub and herb species had colonized the understorey, but at a lower density and diversity than in the understory of the secondary woodland.  Despite its tall canopy and rapid growth, the plantation remained relatively simple in structure, was immature and lacked diversity.  Plantation in Tai Po Industrial Estate and along the roads was mainly dominated by Leucaena leucocephala and other exotic landscaping trees.  In total 130 species were recorded in plantation habitat. 

Two plant species protected under the Forestry and Countryside Ordinance (Cap 96), Rhodoleia Rhodoleia championii and Common Tutcheria Tutcheria spectablis were recorded (for locations refer to Figure 9.6; photographic records are shown in Figures 9.7 & 9.8).  Common Tutcheria has a restricted distribution in Hong Kong while Rhodoleia is locally very rare in natural woodland and vulnerable in China although it is also widely planted.  In addition to Rhodoleia and Common Tutcheria, Lamb of Tartary Cibotium barometz, protected under Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap 586) was recorded.  It is a very common fern locally but listed as vulnerable and a Category II protected plant in PRC in the List of Wild Plants under State Protection as well as being listed in Appendix 2 of CITES.  The floristic diversity of plantation was moderate while its ecological value was considered to be low.  A photographic record of plantation is shown in Figure 9.3.

Grassland Shrubland Mosaic

Grassland shrubland mosaic with scattered graves and urns was found at most of the exposed hillsides within the Study Area.  The habitat was found to be disturbed by hill fires during the grave sweeping festivals, which interrupts the natural succession of vegetation.  The grassland shrubland mosaic was dominated by fern species Dicranopteris pedata and grass species Miscanthus sinensis and accompanied by some shrub species including Smilax china, Rhodomyrtus tomentosa, Rhaphiolepis indica and Baeckea frutescens and occasionally by scattered trees such as Rhus chinensis, Schima superba and Aporosa dioica.  Native tree seedlings were planted along some trails on grassland shrubland mosaic habitats to speed up succession.  In total 163 plant species were found during the surveys within the grassland shrubland mosaic.  Among these, five of them (Buttercup Orchid Spathoglottis pubescens, Hong Kong Pavetta Pavetta hongkongensis, Susan Orchid Pecteilis susannae, Lamb of Tartary Cibotium barometz and Bamboo Orchid Arundina graminifolia) are protected species in Hong Kong (for locations refer to Figure 9.6; photographic records are shown in Figures 9.7 & 9.8).  Only Bamboo Orchid was recorded within the Development Site.

One other plant species of conservation interest, Cycad Fern Brainea insignis was found in locations to the west of the Ecological Reserve, north of Fung Yuen and also along the Sha Lo Tung road (for locations refer to Figure 9.6).  It is not protected in Hong Kong, but is a wild plant under State protection (Category II) in PRC and considered vulnerable there. 

Susan Orchid is restricted, Buttercup Orchid is very common and Bamboo Orchid is common in Hong Kong, however, all orchids are protected from possession and/or sale under the Forestry and Countryside Ordinance (Cap 96) and also protected the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap 586).  Lamb of Tartary was seen in more mature parts of the habitat, where the canopy height was higher.  The floristic diversity of grassland shrubland mosaic was moderate and the structural complexity was low.  The ecological value of grassland shrubland mosaic was considered to be low to moderate.  A photographic record of the grassland shrubland mosaic is shown in Figure 9.3.

Wet and Dry Abandoned Agricultural Land

Agricultural land was found mainly in Fung Yuen Valley and Sha Lo Tung Valley, mostly abandoned and invaded with grasses and weed plants after cessation of agricultural activity.  The wet abandoned agricultural land, usually located near streams, was dominated by remnants of crops, mainly Ginger Lily Hedychium coronarium and/or native grasses, ferns and herbs including Microstegium ciliatum, Cyrtococcum patens, Cyclosorus interruptus, and Commelina nudiflora.  The dry abandoned agricultural land on higher ground was dominated by fruit trees and weeds including Saccharum arundinaceum, Neyraudia arundinacea, Miscanthus sinensis, Bidens pilosa and the weedy climber Mikania micrantha.  

Small pools and ditches (expect to be formed in the past for irrigation purpose) were also found in the wet abandoned agricultural land located within the secondary woodland at the northeast of but outside the Development Site (photographic record is shown in Figure 9.9).  The wet abandoned agricultural land located outside the Development Site found almost dried up, except the small pools, during dry season.  The water appeared to be coming from the perched water table, as water seeping below ground rather than as surface flow, from areas above the pools.  In wet season, the water seeped through the wet abandoned agricultural field (with Ginger Lily) to the north in the direction of Sha Lo Tung Stream.  The pools have shallower water depth and relatively static water, in particular during dry season. 

105 plant species were recorded within wet abandoned agricultural land and 82 recorded within dry abandoned agricultural land.  Three plant species of conservation interest were recorded in wet abandoned agricultural land (Terete Cleisostoma Cleisostoma simondii, Lamb of Tartary Cibotium barometz and Hong Kong Pavetta Pavetta hongkongensis) with all these except Hong Kong Pavetta also recorded in dry abandoned agricultural land.  The floristic diversity of both wet and dry abandoned agricultural land is considered low to moderate (but dominated by exotic species and weeds) and the structural complexity is considered low. 

The ecological value of dry abandoned agricultural land is considered to be low and that of wet abandoned agricultural land, low to moderate at Fung Yuen (due to small isolated plots, degraded and fragmented in nature) and moderate at Sha Lo Tung (not due to plant diversity but records of Hong Kong Paradise Fish Macropodus hongkongensis).  Photographic records of wet and dry abandoned agricultural land are shown in Figure 9.4.

Active Agricultural Land

Only a few plots of agricultural lands located at Sha Lo Tung and Fung Yuen were still active.  Fruit trees and vegetables were the main crops in these plots.  49 species were recorded on active agricultural land.  The floristic diversity of this habitat is considered low and the structural complexity is considered low.  The ecological value of active agricultural land is also considered to be low.  A photographic record of active agricultural land is shown in Figure 9.4

Stream

Natural perennial streams were found running through Sha Lo Tung Valley at the northern part of the Study Area.  The riparian vegetation community of the perennial streams was integrated with the surrounding secondary woodland with semi-open canopy.  The bed of the perennial streams was rocky with medium-sized boulders.  Medium water flow was recorded even during the dry season surveys.  The perennial streams were far away from the residential area and less disturbed by human activities.  The perennial stream recorded at Fung Yuen Valley was more or less modified where the stream bank has been reinforced with rocks or concrete.  Certain sections of the lower course of Fung Yuen stream is under channelization, while the upper section inside the SSSI remained more or less natural. 

A total of 95 plant species were found along the streams.  Two plant species of conservation interest, Lamb of Tartary Cibotium barometz and Incense Tree Aquilaria sinensis (see Section 9.7.1 Secondary Woodland and Fung Shui Woods for conservation status of these two species) were recorded at the perennial streams in the Sha Lo Tung Valley.  The ecological value of natural perennial streams at Sha Lo Tung and Fung Yuen were considered to be high and moderate respectively.  Photographic records of the perennial streams are shown in Figures 9.4 & 9.5.

Developed Area

Developed area found within the Study Area comprised villages, roads and paths, parks, WSD service reservoir and the Tai Po Industrial Estates, and wasteland.  121 plant species of limited conservation value including road side trees, fruit trees and weedy species were recorded within the developed area.  The ecological value of developed area was considered negligible.  The photographic record of developed area is shown in Figure 9.5.

9.7.2                                Mammals

Seven mammal species including Common Bent-winged Bat Miniopterus schreibersii, Red Muntjak Muntiacus muntjak, Eurasian Wild Pig Sus scrofa, Rhesus Macaque Macaca mulatta, Pallas's Squirrel Callosciurus erythraeus, Masked Palm Civet Paguma larvata and Chestnut Spiny Rat Niviventer fulvescens were recorded within the Study Area during the ecological surveys (Annex F2).  Five species, Common Bent-winged Bat, Barking Deer (Red Muntjak), Masked Palm Civet, Rhesus Macaque and Pallas's Squirrel, are protected under Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap 170).  In addition, the Common Bent-winged Bat is listed as near threatened in IUCN Red List.  The Rhesus Macaque is listed in the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap. 586), listed as vulnerable in the China Red Data Book and listed in CITES Appendix 2.  The locations of these species of conservation interest are shown in Figure 9.6. 

In addition, further to the previous studies as discussed in Section 9.5.3, a total of eight species of larger mammals and eight species of small mammals were previously recorded within the Study Area (mainly within Sha Lo Tung Valley), including Barking Deer (Red Muntjak), Chinese Ferret Badger, Chinese Pangolin, Wild Boar, Chinese Porcupine, Leopard Cat, Javan Mongoose, unidentified Civet, Chestnut Spiny Rat, Common Rat, Ryukyu Mouse, two species of Sladen’s Rat, Greater Roundleaf Bat, Japanese Pipistrelle, Lesser Yellow Bat and one unidentified bat species ([45])([46]).

9.7.3                                Birds

There were a total of 89 species of birds recorded within the Study Area during the ecological surveys (Annex F2).  It should be noted that there were over 110 species of birds recorded previously within the Study Area and Sha Lo Tung Valley ([47]) ([48]). 

Relative abundance and species richness of birds in each type of surveyed habitat, based on the results of the point count method of the surveys, are shown in Table 9.2.  Woodland, grassland shrubland mosaic and stream all showed high species abundance in the wet season, although stream had the greatest species richness.  In the dry season dry abandoned agricultural land showed by far the greatest species abundance, although stream again had the greatest species richness. 

 


Table 9.2        Relative Abundance of Bird Species Recorded within Each Habitat of the Study Area and within the Main Works Area (including the Development Site and Sha Lo Tung Road Improvement)

 

Study Area

Main Works Area

 

Woodland (Secondary & Fung Shui)

Plantation

Grassland/ Shrubland Mosaic

Wet Abandoned Agricultural Land

Dry Abandoned Agricultural Land

Stream

Developed Area

 

Wet Season

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mean Abundance of Birds (Mean # birds per sampling point)

10.87

7.93

7.30

10.71

9.05

10.73

8.50

7.48

Species Richness ( Mean # of species per sampling point)

5.58

4.27

4.20

5.86

5.11

6.73

4.75

4.29

Total # of Birds Recorded

565

119

409

225

172

118

102

157

Total # of Species Recorded

48

18

33

41

25

27

20

27

Dry Season

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mean Abundance of Birds (Mean # birds per sampling point)

13.75

8.61

6.84

13.63

34.75

19.50

8.38

10.62

Species Richness ( Mean # of species per sampling point)

5.71

4.11

3.14

5.00

6.50

7.63

3.63

4.23

Total # of Birds Recorded

385

155

253

109

417

156

67

276

Total # of Species Recorded

42

20

29

29

26

25

16

31


Most of the bird species recorded are common and widespread in Hong Kong (eg, Chinese Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis and Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus).  Wintering birds such as Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus, Red-flanked Blue-tail Tarsiger cyanurus, Japanese Thrush, Grey-backed Thrush and Common Blackbird Turdus spp., Scaly Thrush Zoothera dauma, Dusky Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler and Pallas's Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus spp. and Silky Starling Sturnus sericeus were recorded in the Study Area (Annex F2).

Among the bird species recorded within the Study Area, there are 13 species of conservation interest; nine species are PRC nationally protected species, six are listed in CITES Appendix 2 and seven are protected under Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance, (Cap 586) (NB all bird species in Hong Kong are also protected under Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (WAPO)(Cap. 170).  The 13 species include Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus, Common Buzzard Buteo buteo, Black Kite Milvus migrans, Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela, Lesser Coucal Centropus bengalensis, Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis, Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica, Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola, Kestrel (Common/Eurasian Kestrel) Falco tinnunculus, Slaty-legged Crake Rallina eurizonoides, Asian Barred Owlet / Cuckoo Owl Glaucidium cuculoides, Hwamei Garrulax canorus and Collared Scops Owl Otus lettia (Annex F2).  Apart from the 13 bird species of conservation interest listed above, Savanna Nightjar Caprimulgus affinis was also recorded within the Study Area.  The locations of the recorded species of conservation interest / rare species are shown on Figure 9.6.

The Crested Goshawk is a Class 2 Protected Animal of PRC and being a member of the Falconiformes is listed in CITES Appendix 2.  It is listed as “Rare” in China Red Data Book.  It is protected under Cap 586 in Hong Kong.  It is a locally uncommon resident widespread in the forest and mature woodlands of the New Territories in Hong Kong.  It was recorded flying over wet and dry abandoned agricultural land during the surveys and also cited in woodland. 

The Common Buzzard is a Class 2 Protected Animal of PRC and being a member of the Falconiformes is listed in CITES Appendix 2.  It is protected under Cap 586 in Hong Kong.  The species is a common winter visitor to Hong Kong and is mainly found in open habitats.  It was recorded in or flying over stream, wet and dry abandoned agricultural land, grassland shrubland mosaic and woodland during the surveys.

The Black Kite is a very widespread and common species in Hong Kong.  It is conspicuous in the urban area and over Victoria Harbour all year around.  It is more numerous in winter than in summer and the number peaks in December and January ([49]).  It is found in a wide variety of coastal and inland habitats, including small islands, sea-coasts, intertidal mudflat, fish ponds, reservoirs, landfills and grassy hillsides at all altitudes.  It is listed as a Class 2 Protected Animal of the PRC and being a member of the Falconiformes it is listed in CITES Appendix 2 as well as being protected under Cap 586 in Hong Kong.  During the surveys it was recorded in or over all habitats except plantation and active agricultural land.

The Crested Serpent Eagle is a Class 2 Protected Animal of PRC and being a member of the Falconiformes is listed in CITES Appendix 2.  It is listed as “Vulnerable” in China Red Data Book.  It is also protected under Cap 586 in Hong Kong.  The species is an uncommon resident to Hong Kong ([50]), and is mostly found in woodland area or soaring near woodlands.  It was recorded perching in the secondary woodland during one survey as well as in or overhead for woodland, plantation, grassland shrubland mosaic, wet agricultural land and stream.

The Lesser Coucal is a Class 2 Protected Animal in PRC and is categorised as ”Vulnerable” in China Red Data Book and a common resident in Hong Kong.  It occupies many types of habitats in Hong Kong, including shrubland, grassland and agricultural areas ([51]).  It was recorded in the grassland shrubland mosaic during the survey as well as in wet abandoned agricultural land and woodland.

The Greater Coucal is a Class 2 Protected Animal in the PRC and is categorised as ”Vulnerable” in China Red Data Book.  However, it occupies many types of habitats in Hong Kong ([52]), and is a common resident.  It is frequently found in grasslands, mangroves, marshes, agricultural lands with scattered trees and bushes, open canopy shrubland, fung shui woods and gardens, and has been noted foraging in refuse.  It was found perching in wet and dry abandoned agricultural land during the surveys as well as in or over all other habitats except developed area and active agricultural land.

The Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica is categorised as ”Vulnerable” in the China Red Data Book.  It is a scarce but widespread resident in Hong Kong.  It was recorded utilizing secondary woodland as foraging and breeding sites during the surveys and also in the developed areas.

The Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola is categorised as “Vulnerable” in the IUCN Red List.  It is a common passage migrant through Hong Kong.  It was recorded in secondary woodland during surveys.

The Common Kestrel is listed in Appendix 2 of CITES and is a Class 2 Protected Animal in PRC.  It is also protected under Cap 586 in Hong Kong.  It is found in many open areas and is a common autumn migrant and winter visitor through Hong Kong.  It was recorded foraging in the dry abandoned agricultural land during the survey as well as recorded in or over stream habitats.

The Slaty-legged Crake Rallina eurizonoides is categorised as an “Intermediate” species in China Red Data Book.  It is a common summer visitor in Hong Kong.  It was recorded foraging in dry abandoned agricultural land during surveys.

The Asian Barred Owlet is an uncommon resident in Hong Kong.  It is listed as a Class 2 Protected Animal of the PRC and is protected in Hong Kong by the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plant Ordinance (Cap 586).  It is an uncommon resident in Hong Kong.  During the surveys it was recorded flying over wet abandoned agricultural land and woodland.

The Hwamei is listed in CITES Appendix 2.  It is a common resident in Hong Kong and almost endemic to the PRC.  The Hwamei is commonly found on hillsides and shrubland in Hong Kong and has also been seen at large parks in Yuen Long and Hong Kong Island.  It was recorded in wet and dry abandoned agricultural land, woodland and grassland shrubland mosaic and over stream habitat during the survey.

The Collared Scops Owl is a Class 2 Protected Animal of PRC and is protected under Cap 586 in Hong Kong.  The species is a widespread and common resident in Hong Kong ([53]).  It was heard in the woodland during night surveys and also in wet and dry agricultural land.

The Savanna Nightjar Caprimulgus affinis, an uncommon resident and passage migrant in Hong Kong, was also recorded in the Study Area.  It was recorded at night or in the evening in the dry abandoned agricultural land within the Ecological Reserve, grassland shrubland mosaic within the Development Site and sitting on the Sha Lo Tung road (Developed Area).

Large Grass Warbler Graminicola bengalensis, previously recorded within Sha Lo Tung Valley, was not recorded during the 24 months ecological surveys for this EIA study.  It is listed as “Near Threatened” in the IUCN Red List and is a rare resident in Hong Kong.  The Large Grass Warbler utilises lowland grassland elsewhere in its distribution range (including Ho Chung, Fei Ngo Shan, Fung Yuen, Sha Lo Tung, Kowloon Peak, Chuen Lung, Shing Mun and Tai To Yan), it uses high elevation grassland during the breeding season (above 500m and Tai Mo Shan is considered as the major habitat for this species) and with some altitudinal movement in winter ([54]).

9.7.4                                Herpetofauna

Seventeen reptiles, including King Corba Ophiophagus hannah, Banded Stream Snake Opisthotropis balteata, White-spotted Slug Snake Pareas margaritophorus, Mock Viper Psammodynastes pulverulentus, Common Rat Snake Ptyas mucosus, Red-necked Keelback Rhabdophis subminiatus helleri and Bamboo Snake Trimeresurus albolabris, Banded Krait Bungarus fasciatus, Changeable Lizard Calotes versicolor, Four-clawed Gecko Gehyra mutilata, Bowring’s Gecko Hemidactylus bowringii, Indian Forest Skink Sphenomorphus indicus, Chinese Waterside Skink Tropidophorus sinicus, Reeve’s Smooth Skink Scincella reevesii, Long-tailed Skink Mabuya longicaudata, Chinese Gecko Gekko chinensis and Chinese Skink Eumeces chinensis, and fourteen amphibian species, including Hong Kong Newt Paramesotriton hongkongensis, Hong Kong Cascade Frog Amolops hongkongensis, Brown Wood Frog Rana latouchii, Green Cascade Frog Rana livida, Chinese Bullfrog Hoplobatrachus chuinensis, Brown Tree Frog Polypedates megacephalus, Asiatic Painted Frog Kaloula pulchra pulchra, Ornate Pigmy Frog Microhyla ornata, Marbled Pigmy Frog Microhyla pulchra, Gunther’s Frog Rana guentheri, Paddy Frog Fejervarya limnocharis, Butler’s Pigmy Frog Microhyla butleri, Lesser Spiny Frog Paa exilispinosa and Asian Common Toad Bufo melanostictus, were recorded during the surveys (Annex F2).  All of the recorded species are common in Hong Kong except the Banded Krait which is uncommon in Hong Kong (and no status given for the Banded Stream Snake Opisthotropis balteata).  King Cobra (Listed in CITES Appendix 2 and as “Critically endangered” in the China Red Data Book and protected under Cap 586 in Hong Kong), Common Rat Snake (Class 2 protected animal in PRC and Listed as “Endangered” in China Red Data Book),  Banded Krait (listed as “endangered” in the China Red Data Book), Hong Kong Newt (listed as “near threatened” in IUCN Red List and protected under Cap 170 in Hong Kong), Lesser Spiny Frog (listed as “vulnerable” in IUCN Red List), Chinese Bullfrog (Class 2 protected animal in PRC) and Hong Kong Cascade Frog (protected under Cap 170 in Hong Kong) are considered as species of conservation interest and all of them were recorded in the Ecological Reserve area during the ecological field update surveys (for locations refer to Figure 9.6). 

It should be noted that a total of eight lizard, ten snake, and twelve amphibian species were recorded previously in Sha Lo Tung Valley ([55]) ([56]), including the following species of conservation interest: Common Rat Snake Pytas mucosus, Three-banded Box Terrapin Cuora trifasciata, Lesser Spiny Frog Paa exilispinosa, Hong Kong Newt Paramesotriton hongkongensis and Hong Kong Cascade Frog Amolops hongkongensis.  The Hong Kong Cascade Frog was found breeding in the streams at Sha Lo Tung.  AFCD’s biodiversity survey data (February 2002 – mid December 2011) also showed that five species of amphibian and five species of reptiles including Asian Common Toad Bufo melanostictus, Paddy Frog Fejervarya limnocharis, Gunther’s Frog Rana guentheri, Spotted Narrow-mouthed Frog Kalophrynus interlineatus, Brown Tree Frog Polypedates megacephalus, Common Three-banded Box Terrapin Cuora trifasciata, Chinese Gecko Gecko chinensis, Bowring’s Gecko Hemidactylus bowringii, Reeves’ Smooth Skink Scincella reevesii and Indian Forest Skink Sphenomorphus indicus were recorded within the Sha Lo Tung Valley (only within the Sha Lo Tung Priority Site, not areas at the fringe of Sha Lo Tung) (Annex F1).

9.7.5                                Butterflies

There were a total of 102 species of butterflies were recorded within the Study Area during the ecological surveys (Annex F2).  Most are either common or very common in Hong Kong, and were mainly recorded in secondary woodland and abandoned agricultural land.  Three butterfly species of conservation interest, including Common Birdwing Troides Helena, Golden Birdwing Troides aeacus and Yellow Coster Acraea issoria, were recorded within the Study Area during the surveys.

The Common Birdwing is protected in Hong Kong under Cap 170 and Cap 586 and the Golden Birdwing is also protected in Hong Kong under Cap 586.  Both the Common Birdwing and the Golden Birdwing, being Troides spp., are listed in Appendix 2 of CITES.  The Yellow Coster is a rare butterfly in Hong Kong.  The locations of the recorded rare / protected species are shown on Figure 9.6.  It should be noted that up to 130 butterfly species have previously been recorded at Fung Yuen and Sha Lo Tung ([57])([58])([59])([60]). 

The relative abundance and species richness of butterflies in each type of surveyed habitat, based on the results of point count surveys during the wet and dry season, are shown in Table 9.3.  The highest mean abundance was recorded in Stream in the wet season and Plantation in the dry season, while species richness was clearly highest in woodland in the wet season and stream in the dry season.  The least number of butterfly species was recorded in the developed area in the wet season whereas in the dry season, the number of species was lowest in plantation, wet abandoned agricultural land (both wet and dry) and developed area.  In the wet season developed area habitat showed the lowest ‘total number of butterflies recorded’ compared to other habitats, while in the dry season both wet abandoned agricultural land and developed area habitats recorded the lowest total number of butterflies.  It should be noted that most of the butterfly species, including the rare and protected species, were recorded in Fung Yuen and the Sha Lo Tung Valley.

 


Table 9.3        Relative Abundance of Butterfly Species Recorded within Each Habitat of the Study Area and within the Main Works Area (including the Development Site and Sha Lo Tung Road Improvement)

 

Study Area

Main
Works Area

 

Woodland

(Secondary & Fung Shui)

Plantation

Grassland/ Shrubland Mosaic

Abandoned Agricultural Land

(Wet)

Abandoned Agricultural Land

(Dry)

Stream

Developed Area

 

Wet Season

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mean Abundance of Butterflies (Mean # butterflies per sampling point)

8.88

5.55

4.79

7.10

8.05

9.20

3.88

4.87

Species Richness ( Mean # of species per sampling point)

7.33

4.09

4.26

5.45

6.33

6.00

3.13

4.00

Total # of Butterflies Recorded

453

61

206

142

161

92

31

112

Total # of Species Recorded

78

25

61

45

53

38

17

52

Dry Season

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mean Abundance of Butterflies (Mean # butterflies per sampling point)

6.11

8.00

2.63

1.25

2.50

7.50

2.33

3.71

Species Richness ( Mean # of species per sampling point)

4.67

3.67

2.00

1.25

2.25

6.50

2.00

2.86

Total # of Butterflies Recorded

55

24

21

5

10

15

7

26

Total # of Species Recorded

26

9

10

5

8

13.

6

17


9.7.6                                Odonates

A total of 53 odonate species were recorded within the Study Area during surveys (Annex F2).  The odonate species were mainly recorded in abandoned agricultural land and woodland within the Sha Lo Tung Valley.  Most of the recorded species are either common or very common in Hong Kong.  Three odonate species of conservation interest were recorded, all of them being dragonflies rather than damselflies.  One of them was recorded during the ecological surveys (the rare Chinese Tiger Gomphidia kelloggi) and two during surveys done by Green Power during the study period ([61]).  The exuviae only of a rare Large Dragonhunter Sieboldius deflexus was found on the morning of 18 May 2009 and the rare White-tipped Grappletail Heliogomphus retroflexus was recorded at night on 1 July 2009 ([62]).  The locations of the recorded species of conservation interest are shown on Figure 9.6.

The relative abundance and species richness of odonates in each type of surveyed habitat, based on the results of the point count surveys during the wet and dry seasons, are shown in Table 9.4.  During the wet season stream recorded the highest species richness while wet abandoned agricultural land had the highest mean abundance.  In the dry season, dry abandoned agricultural land recorded the highest species richness and mean abundance.  Most total number of odonates and different number of species were recorded in woodland during the wet season and in dry abandoned agricultural land in the dry season.  It should be noted that most of the odonate species were recorded in the Sha Lo Tung Valley and Sha Lo Tung Streams during the qualitative transect surveys rather than the quantitative point count surveys and more quantitative point count surveys were done during the wet rather than the dry season.

Currently, over 70 species of odonates have been recorded in Sha Lo Tung Valley since 2002, out of a total of 116 known in Hong Kong, and the Valley is identified as the most species-rich site in Hong Kong (AFCD Biodiversity Database, Annex F1).  Many of the species recorded are stream specialists and include uncommon dragonfly species such as the Dusk-hawker Gynacantha sp., South China Cruiser Macromia katae, the Small Clubtail Stylogomphus chunliuae, Coaster Glider Macrodiplax cora, Angle-winged Cruiser Macromia berlandi and the Greater Blue Skimmer Orthetrum melania. 

 


Table 9.4        Relative Abundance of Odonate Species Recorded within Each Habitat of the Study Area and within the Main Works Area (including the Development Site and Sha Lo Tung Road Improvement)

 

Study Area

Main Works Area

 

Woodland

(Secondary & Fung Shui)

Plantation

Grassland/ Shrubland Mosaic

Abandoned Agricultural Land

(Wet)

Abandoned Agricultural Land

(Dry)

Stream

Developed Area

 

Wet Season

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mean Abundance of Odonates (Mean # odonates per sampling point)

8.00

4.50

2.96

9.80

6.85

6.56

2.33

4.25

Species Richness ( Mean # of species per sampling point)

4.07

1.50

1.71

2.80

2.92

4.11

1.17

2.50

Total # of Odonates Recorded

216

18

71

147

89

59

14

51

Total # of Species Recorded

32

3

12

21

14

19

2

14

Dry Season

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mean Abundance of Odonates (Mean # dragonflies per sampling point)

0.44

1.00

0.50

0.25

2.00

1.00

0.67

0.14

Species Richness ( Mean # of species per sampling point)

0.44

1.00

0.50

0.25

1.50

1.00

0.33

0.14

Total # of Odonates Recorded

4

3

4

1

8

2

2

1

Total # of Species Recorded

3

2

2

1

4

2

1

1

 


9.7.7                                Aquatic Community

In total, 18 species, which belong to 15 genera and 9 families, of freshwater fish species were found along the aforementioned streams within the Study area in both the dry and wet seasons.  Except the species Poecilia reticulata, Gambusia affinis, Xiphophorus hellerii and Xiphophorus variatus, which are introduced and originated in Central America and Africa, the rest are all native species.  The Hong Kong Paradise Fish Macropodus hongkongensis (uncommon in Hong Kong), Small Snakehead Channa asiatica (uncommon in Hong Kong) and Predaceous Chub Parazacco spilurus (listed as ”Vulnerable” in China Red Data Book) are considered as species of conservation interest.  The species recorded within the natural stream and wet abandoned agricultural land within the Sha Lo Tung Valley (but not in the Development Site) are presented in Annex F2. 

Thirty-five macroinvertebrate families were also recorded in Sha Lo Tung area and 24 in the Fung Yuen area.  Overall, crustaceans, insects and gastropods numbered 3 families (8%), 29 families (78%) and 5 families (14%) respectively.  Six families of insects, Hydrophilidae, Eulichalidae, Elmidae, Chironomidae, Simuliidae and Baetidae, were found at all eight sampling points within the Sha Lo Tung and Fung Yuen streams.  Five macroinvertebrate families were only recorded in one location; these included the crustaceans Macrobrachium hainanense (Palaemonidae family) and Varuna litterata (Grapsidae family), the Ecnomidae and Odontoceridae insect families and the Thiaridae gastropod family.

9.7.8                                Summary of Terrestrial Ecological Resources

The ecological importance of the habitats and wildlife identified within the Study Area during the survey are evaluated in accordance with the EIAO TM Annex 8 criteria, and presented in Tables 9.5 to 9.10.  The species of conservation interest shown in Table 9.11 present only those species recorded during the ecological surveys (including dragonflies from the Green Power surveys ([63])), but not the species from the literature review.  It should be noted that all of the previous recorded species of conservation interest (from literature review) were found within either Sha Lo Tung Valley (Ecological Reserve, not including the Development Site) or Fung Yuen Valley SSSI.  The evaluation of terrestrial baseline ecological resources of the Study Area was based on the literature review and ecological surveys, including habitat and vegetation, birds, stream fauna and other wildlife surveys, conducted since 2004.  Habitats recorded within the Study Area included Fung Shui woods, secondary woodland, plantation, grassland shrubland mosaic, abandoned (wet and dry) and active agricultural land, stream and developed area.  The ecological value of Fung Shui woods and natural, perennial streams at Sha Lo Tung were high while that of secondary woodland was moderate to high  The ecological value of the natural, perennial stream at Fung Yuen and the wet abandoned agricultural land (Sha Lo Tung) was considered to be moderate.  The ecological value of plantation, active agricultural land, and dry abandoned agricultural land was low; wet abandoned agricultural land (Fung Yuen) and grassland shrubland mosaic had a low to moderate ecological value whilst the ecological value of developed area was negligible. 

Table 9.5        Ecological Evaluation of Secondary Woodland and Fung Shui Woods

Criteria

Fung Shui Woods

Secondary Woodland

Naturalness

Semi-natural dominated by native plants.

Semi-natural dominated by native plants.

Size

 

Patches of Fung Shui woods were recorded within the Study Area with an overall size of approximately 3.1 ha. 

Patches of secondary woodland were recorded within the Study Area with an overall size of approximately 123.2 ha. 

Diversity

 

Low to moderate diversity of plants (76 species) and faunal diversity Moderate structural complexity.

High diversity of plants (230 species) and structural complexity, low to moderate for faunal diversity.

Rarity

 

Plant species of conservation Interest included Hong Kong Pavetta (Pavetta hongkongensis), Lamb of Tartary (Cibotium barometz) and Terete Cleisostoma (Cleisostoma simondii).

 

Mammal species of conservation interest included Pallas’s Squirrel (Callosciurus erythraeus)

 

Bird species of conservation Interest included Hwamei (Garrulax canorus) and Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis).

 

Butterfly species of conservation Interest included Common Birdwing (Troides helena).

 

Plant species of conservation Interest included Incense Tree (Aquilaria sinensis), Lamb of Tartary (Cibotium barometz), Terete Cleisostoma Cleisostoma simondii, Indian Birthwort (Aristolochia tagala), Common Tutcheria (Tutcheria spectabilis),  Hong Kong Pavetta (Pavetta hongkongensis), Hairy Fruited Ormosia Tree (Ormosia pachycarpa), Illigera (Illigera celebica), Hong Kong Mucuna (Mucuna championii), Willow-leaved Camellia (Camellia salicifolia).

 

Mammal species of conservation interest included Common Bent-winged Bat (Miniopterus schreibersii), Rhesus Macaque (Macaca mulatta), Masked Palm Civet (Paguma larvata) and Red Muntjak (Muntiacus muntjak) (heard but not seen).

 

Bird species of conservation Interest included Crested Goshawk (Accipiter trivirgatus), Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) (flying overhead), Black Kite (Milvus migrans), Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela), Lesser Coucal (Centropus bengalensis), Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis), Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica), Yellow-brested Bunting (Emberiza aureola), Asian Barred Owlet / Cuckoo Owl (Glaucidium cuculoides), Hwamei (Garrulax canorus) and Collared Scops Owl (Otis lettiaand).

 

Herpetofauna species of conservation Interest included King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) and Less Spiny Frog (Paa exilispinosa).

 

Butterfly species of conservation Interest included Common Birdwing (Troides helena spilotia) and Golden Birdwing (Troides aeacus).

 

Dragonfly species of conservation Interest included Club-tailed Cruiser (Macromia urania).

Re-creatability

 

Habitat characteristics and species composition are natural and mature.  It would take more than 30 years for the fung shui woods to be re-created.

Habitat characteristics and species composition are natural and mature.  It would take more than 30 years for the secondary woodland to be re-created.

Fragmentation

Not fragmented

Fragmented by the topography and the historical agricultural activities.

Ecological Linkage

Functionally linked to the Sha Lo Tung Valley/ Fung Yuen Valley in close proximity.

Functionally linked to the Sha Lo Tung Valley and Fung Yuen Valley in close proximity.

Potential Value

High, becoming mature woodland if given time and protection from disturbance.

High, becoming mature woodland if given time and protection from disturbance.

Nursery/ Breeding Ground

Nil

Nil.

Age

High (more than 50 years) based on tree size, woodland structure and species composition.

Moderate to high (around 40 years) based on tree size, woodland structure and species composition.

Abundance/ Richness of Wildlife

Moderate abundance for general wildlife.

 

Moderate abundance for general wildlife.

 

Overall Ecological Value

High

Moderate to high

Table 9.6        Ecological Evaluation of Plantation

Criteria

Plantation

Naturalness

Plantation woodland dominated by a few exotic plants.

Size

Continuous plantation patches were recorded within the Study Area with an overall size of approximately 20.1 ha. 

Diversity

Moderate diversity of plants (130 species), low for faunal diversity.

Rarity

Plant species of conservation Interest included Rhodoleia Rhodoleia championii, Lamb of Tartary (Cibotium barometz) and Common Tutcheria Tutcheria spectabilis.

 

Bird species of conservation Interest included Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela) and Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis).

Re-creatability

Habitat characteristics and species composition are easy to recreate.  It will take about 10 years for the plantation to be re-created.

Fragmentation

Not applicable.

Ecological Linkage

Not functionally linked to any highly valued habitat in close proximity.

Potential Value

Low to moderate, becoming mature woodland if given time and protection from disturbance.

Nursery/ Breeding Ground

Nil.

Age

Low (10-20 years) based on tree size, woodland structure and species composition.

Abundance/ Richness of Wildlife

Low to moderate abundance for fauna.

 

Overall Ecological Value

Low

Table 9.7        Ecological Evaluation of Grassland Shrubland Mosaic

Criteria

Grassland Shrubland Mosaic

Naturalness

Semi-natural habitats and disturbed by human activities such as fires.

Size

Patches were recorded within the Study Area with an overall size of approximately 230.0 ha. 

Diversity

Moderate diversity of plants (151 species), low structural complexity and low for faunal diversity.

Rarity

Plant species of conservation interest included Cycad-fern (Brainea insignis), Hong Kong Pavetta (Pavetta hongkongensis), Susan Orchid (Pecteilis susannae), Buttercup Orchid (Spathoglottis pubescens), Bamboo Orchid (Arundina graminifolia) and Lamb of Tartary (Cibotium barometz)

 

Bird species of conservation interest included Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) (Flying overhead), Black Kite (Milvus migrans), Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela), Lesser Coucal (Centropus bengalensis), Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis) and Hwamei (Garrulax canorus).  The rare Savannah Nightjar (Caprimulgus affinisi) was also recorded in this habitat.

 

Re-creatability

Habitat characteristics and species composition are easy to recreate.  It would take 5 to 10 years for the grassland shrubland mosaic to be re-created.

Fragmentation

Not applicable.

Ecological Linkage

Not functionally linked to any highly valued habitat in close proximity.

Potential Value

Low to moderate, becoming mature shrubland if given time and protection from disturbance.

Nursery/ Breeding Ground

Nil.

Age

Not applicable, habitat frequently disturbed by fires.

Abundance/ Richness of Wildlife

Low abundance for avifauna and other wildlife.

Overall Ecological Value

Low to moderate

Table 9.8a      Ecological Evaluation of Active Agricultural Land

Criteria

Agricultural Land (Active)

Naturalness

Man-made habitat actively cultivated.

Size

Very small patches of active agricultural land were recorded within the Study Area with an overall size of approximately 2.0 ha. 

Diversity

Low diversity of plants (49 species) and low for structural complexity, low for avifauna and low for other fauna.

Rarity

No flora or fauna of conservation interest were found in active agricultural land.

Re-creatability

Habitat characteristics and species composition are easy to recreate. 

Fragmentation

Not applicable.

Ecological Linkage

Not functionally linked to any highly valued habitat in close proximity.

Potential Value

Low to moderate, some along streamside may become wetland if given time and protection from disturbance.

Nursery/ Breeding Ground

Nil.

Age

n/a. 

Abundance/ Richness of Wildlife

Low abundance for fauna.

Overall Ecological Value

Low

Table 9.8b      Ecological Evaluation of Abandoned Agricultural Land

Criteria

Wet Abandoned Agricultural Land (Sha Lo Tung)

Wet Abandoned Agricultural Land (Fung Yuen)

Dry Abandoned Agricultural Land

Naturalness

Man-made habitat abandoned for natural succession.

Man-made habitat abandoned for natural succession

Man-made habitat abandoned for natural succession.

Size

One major and one large patch of wet abandoned agricultural land were recorded in the Sha Lo Tung area, while eleven small, isolated patches were recorded around Fung Yuen amongst the dry abandoned agricultural land.  The overall size of the wet abandoned agricultural land was approximately 27.3 ha.

Three main patches of dry abandoned agricultural land were recorded within the Study Area.  The overall size was approximately 18.5 ha. 

Diversity

Low to moderate diversity of plants (104 species) and low for structural complexity, moderate for fauna

Low to moderate diversity of plants (82 species) and low for structural complexity, Low for fauna

Rarity

Plant species of conservation Interest included Terete Cleisostoma (Cleisostoma simondii), Lamb of Tartary (Cibotium barometz) and Hong Kong Pavetta (Pavetta hongkongensis). 

 

Bird species of conservation Interest included Crested Goshawk (Accipiter trivirgatus), Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo), Black Kite (Milvus migrans), Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela), Lesser Coucal (Centropus bengalensis), Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis), Hwamei (Garrulax canorus), Collared Scops Owl (Otis lettia), and flying overhead, Asian Barred Owlet / Cuckoo Owl (Glaucidium cuculoides),

 

Herpetofauna species of conservation Interest included Chinese Bullfrog Hoplobatrachus chuinensis, Lesser Spiny Frog Paa exilispinosa, Banded Krait Bungarus fasciatus and King Cobra Ophiophagus hannah.

 

Butterfly species of conservation interest included the Yellow Coster (Acraea issoria).

 

Fish of conservation interest included Hong Kong Paradise Fish (Macropodus hongkongensis), Small snakehead (Channa asiatica) and Predaceous Chub (Parazacco spilurus).

 

Most of the above were recorded within Sha Lo Tung Valley.   

No flora or fauna of conservation interest were recorded.

Plant species of conservation interest include Terete Cleisostoma (Cleisostoma simondii) and Lamb of Tartary (Cibotium barometz)

 

Bird species of conservation interest included Crested Goshawk (Accipiter trivirgatus), Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo), Black Kite (Milvus migrans), Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela), Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis), Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), Hwamei (Garrulax canorus), Collared Scops Owl (Otis lettia), and flying overhead, Slaty-legged Crake (Rallina eurizonoides).  The rare Savannah Nightjar (Caprimulgus affinis) was also recorded in this habitat

 

Herpetofauna species of conservation interest included the Common Rat Snake (Ptyas mucosus)

 

Butterfly species of conservation interest included the Yellow Coster (Acraea issoria).

 

Re-creatability

It would take 5 to 10 years for the abandoned agricultural land to be re-created to serve its ecological function.

Fragmentation

Contiguous stands in Sha Lo Tung Valley and the north east of the Study Area.

Isolated pockets in Fung Yuen Valley

One large patch in Sha Lo Tung Valley, contiguous stands in Fuen Yuen with one isolated patch east of Ha Hang.

Ecological Linkage

Hydrologically linked to streams.

Not functionally linked to any highly valued habitat in close proximity.

Not functionally linked to any highly valued habitat in close proximity.

Potential Value

Low to moderate, some along streamside may become marshy wetland if given time and protection from disturbance.

Low

Low to moderate, some may become woodland if given time and protection from disturbance

Nursery/ Breeding Ground

Possibly for dragonflies and Hong Kong Paradise Fish.

Nil

Nil

Age

Moderate (10- 20 years)

Moderate (10- 20 years)

Moderate (10- 20 years)

Abundance/ Richness of Wildlife

Low to moderate abundance for fauna.

Low abundance for fauna

Low to moderate abundance for fauna

Overall Ecological Value

Moderate

Low to Moderate

Low

 

Table 9.9        Ecological Evaluation of Stream

 

Criteria

Perennial Streams at Sha Lo Tung

Perennial Stream at Fung Yuen

Naturalness

Natural habitat dominated by native plants.

Natural at the upper stream.  Stream bank was cemented at the lower course and was under channelization work.

Size

Total length is approximately 7.7 km. 

Total length is approximately 1.8 km. 

Diversity

Low to moderate diversity of plants (95 species), high for faunal species particularly dragonfly species.  Currently, over 70 species of odonates have been recorded in Sha Lo Tung Valley since 2002, out of a total of 116 known in Hong Kong. Many of the species recorded are stream specialists.

Low to moderate diversity of plants (63 species), low to moderate for other faunal species.

Rarity

Plants of conservation Interest included Lamb of Tartary (Cibotium barometz), Incense Tree (Aquilaria sinensis).

 

Birds of conservation interest found flying overhead or nearby included Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo), Black Kite (Milvus migrans), Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela), Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis), Kestrel (Common/Eurasian Kestrel) (Falco tinnunculus) and Hwamei (Garrulax canorus),

 

Herpetofauna of conservation interest included Hong Kong Newt Paramesotriton hongkongensis and Hong Kong Cascade Frog (Amolops hongkongensis).

 

Dragonfly species of conservation interest included the Chinese Tiger Gomphidia kelloggi).  Green Power surveys ([64]) also recorded Large Dragonhunter (Sieboldius deflexus) and White-tipped Grappletail (Heliogomphus retroflexus) in this habitat.

 

Fish of conservation interest included Hong Kong Paradise Fish (Macropodus hongkongensis), Small snakehead (Channa asiatica) and Predaceous Chub (Parazacco spilurus).

Fish of conservation interest included Small snakehead (Channa asiatica).

Re-creatability

Habitat characteristics and species composition are difficult to recreate. 

Fragmentation

Not applicable.

Not applicable.

Ecological Linkage

Functionally linked to the Sha Lo Tung Valley in close proximity.

Not functionally linked to any highly valued habitat in close proximity.

Potential Value

High

Moderate to high if given time and protection from disturbance.

Nursery/ Breeding Ground

Streams at Sha Lo Tung Valley are very important for breeding and development of an extremely diverse community of dragonflies.  Possible breeding ground for Hong Kong Paradise Fish. 

Nil.

Age

Not applicable

Not applicable

Abundance/ Richness of Wildlife

High for dragonfly and moderate for other fauna.

Low to moderate abundance for fauna.

Overall Ecological Value

High

Moderate

Table 9.10      Ecological Evaluation of Developed Area

Criteria

Developed Area

Naturalness

Man-made habitat dominated by landscape plants and weed plants.

Size

Major patches were recorded within the Study Area with an overall size of approximately 71.9 ha. 

Diversity

Moderate diversity of plants (121 species), and low for faunal species.

Rarity

No flora of conservation interest.

 

Bird species of conservation Interest included Black Kite (Milvus migrans) flying overhead, Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica) and finally Savannah Nightjar (Caprimulgus affinis) resting on the Sha Lo Tung road.

Re-creatability

Habitat characteristics and species composition are easy to recreate. 

Fragmentation

Not applicable.

Ecological Linkage

Not functionally linked to any highly valued habitat in close proximity.

Potential Value

Low.

Nursery/ Breeding Ground

Nil.

Age

Not applicable.

Abundance/ Richness of Wildlife

Low for faunal species.

Overall Ecological Value

Negligible

A list and evaluation of recently recorded key floral and faunal species of ecological interest during ecological field update surveys recorded within the Study Area, according to the EIAO-TM, are given in Table 9.11.  It should be noted that there have been numerous species of conservation interest recorded within Sha Lo Tung Valley in surveys conducted prior to the update surveys, and the details were presented in Sections 9.5.2-9.5.8.  The locations of recorded species of conservation interest, whenever available, are also presented in Figure 9.6.


Table 9.11      Evaluation of Floral and Faunal Species of Conservation Interest recorded within the Study Area during the Ecological Surveys in both Dry and Wet Seasons

Species

Location and Activities (if any)

Protection Status

Distribution

Commonness in Hong Kong

Plant

Incense Tree Aquilaria sinensis

In woodland along the existing Sha Lo Tung Road, Kau Shi Wai and along stream in Sha Lo Tung Valley

Protected under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap 586);  Category II protected plant in the List of Wild Plants under State Protection in PRC;  Near Threatened in PRC ([65]);  Listed as “Vulnerable” in the China Plant Red Data Book and by IUCN (2010)

Lowland forests and Fung shui woods

Common

Hong Kong Pavetta

Pavetta hongkongensis

In woodland in Sha Lo Tung Valley and along the existing Sha Lo Tung Road

Protected under Forestry and Countryside Ordinance (Cap 96)

Fung shui woods and lowland forest

Common

Lamb of Tartary Cibotium barometz

In woodland, along stream and wet abandoned agricultural land, all in Sha Lo Tung Valley and also in woodland along the existing Sha Lo Tung Road

Protected under Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap 586).  Vulnerable in PRC ([66]);

Category II protected plant in the List of Wild Plants under State Protection in PRC;

Appendix 2 of CITES

Forest and shrubland

Very common

Rhodoleia Rhodoleia championii

In plantation along the existing Sha Lo Tung Road

Vulnerable in PRC ([67]);

Protected under Forestry and Countryside Ordinance (Cap 96)

Forest

Very rare

Indian Birthwort Aristolochia tagala

In woodland in Fung Yuen SSSI

Protected under Forestry and Countryside Ordinance (Cap 96)

Forest

Rare

Terete Cleisostoma Cleisostoma simondii.

In woodland and streamside in the Sha Lo Tung Valley

The whole family of orchids (which includes Cleisostoma spp.) are protected under Forestry and Countryside Ordinance (Cap 96) and Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap 586)

 

Forest and forest edges beside stream

Very common

Hairy Fruited Ormosia Tree Ormosia Pachycarpa

In woodland in the Sha Lo Tung Valley

Endangered in PRC ([68]). Not protected in Hong Kong

Forest

Restricted

Common Tutcheria

Tutcheria spectabilis

In secondary woodland within the Sha Lo Tung Valley and in plantation along the existing Sha Lo Tung Road

Protected under Forestry and Countryside Ordinance (Cap 96)

Lowland forests and fung shui woods

Restricted

Willow-leaved Camellia

Camellia salicifolia

In woodland in the Sha Lo Tung Valley and the Development Site

Protected under Forestry and Countryside Ordinance (Cap 96)

Lowland forests and fung shui woods

Common

Buttercup Orchid Spathoglottis pubescens

In grassland shrubland mosaic

Protected under Forestry and Countryside Ordinance (Cap 96) and Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap 586)

Grassland

Very common

Illigera

Illigera celebica

In woodland in Fung Yuen SSSI

Protected under Forestry and Countryside Ordinance (Cap 96); Least concern in PRC ([69])

Lowland forest margins

Very Rare

Hong Kong Mucuna

Mucuna championii

In woodland in Fung Yuen SSSI

Endangered in PRC ([70]);  Not protected in Hong Kong

Lowland forest

Rare

Cycad-fern Brainea insignis

In grassland shrubland mosaic and on Sha Lo Tung road

Vulnerable in PRC ([71]); Category II protected plant in the List of Wild Plants under State Protection in PRC

On grassy slopes or in thickets

Common

Susan Orchid, Common Pecteilis Pecteilis susannae*

In grassland shrubland mosaic outside Study Area

Protected under Forestry and Countryside Ordinance (Cap 96) and Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap 586)

Grassland

Restricted

Hance’s Viburnum Viburnum hanceanum

Not recorded within Study Area during update field surveys

Least Concern in PRC ([72])

In valleys or in thickets

Very Rare

Bamboo Orchid Arundina graminifolia

Recorded within the grassland shrubland mosaic of the Development Site

Protected under Forestry and Countryside Ordinance (Cap 96) and Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap 586)

Grassland

Common

Mammal

 

 

 

 

Common Bent-winged Bat Miniopterus schreibersii,

Recorded in secondary woodland in the Sha Lo Tung Valley

Protected under Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap. 170) and listed as neat threatened in IUCN Red List

Widely distributed in forested areas throughout Hong Kong.

Abundant

Red Muntjak Muntiacus muntjak

Heard near secondary woodland within the area of the Ecological Reserve during a night survey (location cannot be recorded)

Protected under Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap 170)

Forested areas throughout Hong Kong

Abundant

Masked Palm Civet Paguma larvata

Seen near secondary woodland within Sha Lo Tung Valley during a night survey

Protected under Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap 170)

Widely distributed in forested areas throughout Hong Kong, except Lantau Island and Northwest N.T

Uncommon

Pallas’s Squirrel Callosciurus erythraeus

Recorded in fung shui woodland in the area of the Ecological Reserve

Protected under Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap 170)

Lowland forests and fung shui woods

Uncommon

Rhesus Macaque Macaca mulatta

Recorded in secondary woodland in the area of the Ecological Reserve and in secondary woodland to the south of the Study Area

Protected under Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap 170) and Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap. 586);  Appendix 2 of CITES and listed as “Vulnerable” by China Red Data Book

Lowland forests and fung shui woods

Common

Bird

 

NB All birds in Hong Kong are Protected under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap 170).

 

 

Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus

Flew over wet and dry abandoned agriculture land of the Study Area, foraging and also cited in woodland

Class 2 Protected Animal of PRC;  Protected under Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap. 586);  Listed as “Rare” in China Red Data Book; Appendix 2 of CITES

Widely distributed in woodlands and shrublands throughout Hong Kong, widespread in PRC

Locally uncommon resident in Hong Kong

Common Buzzard Buteo buteo

Flew over wet and dry abandoned agriculture land, grassland shrubland mosaic, woodland and stream in the Study Area, foraging

Class 2 Protected Animal of PRC;  Protected under Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap. 586);  Appendix 2 of CITES 

Found in many types of habitats; Palaearctic, Himalayas, African, Oriental

common winter visitor

Black Kite Milvus migrans

Flew over wet and dry abandoned agriculture land, woodland, grassland shrubland mosaic, developed area and stream of the Study Area; foraging

Class 2 Protected Animal of PRC;  Protected under Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap. 586);  Appendix 2 of CITES

Found in many types of habitats; East Eurasia

Common and widespread. Resident and Winter Visitor

Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela

Perched on tree of the secondary woodland in the Study Area.  Also found in wet and dry abandoned agricultural land, plantation, woodland, grassland shrubland mosaic and over stream habitats

Class 2 Protected Animal of PRC.  Protected under Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap. 586).  Listed as “Vulnerable” in China Red Data Book.  Appendix 2 of CITES.

Found in woodland area; India, South China, Philippines and Indonesia

Uncommon resident bird in Hong Kong

Lesser Coucal Centropus bengalensis

Recorded in the grassland shrubland mosaic, secondary woodland and wet abandoned agricultural land of the Study Area; foraging

Class 2 Protected Animal of PRC.  Listed as “Vulnerable” in China Red Data Book.

Found in shrubby area of Hong Kong; Oriental

Common resident in Hong Kong

Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis

In wet and dry abandoned agricultural area of the Study Area, perching.  Also found in fung shui and secondary woodland, grassland shrubland mosaic, plantation and over stream

Class 2 Protected Animal of PRC.  Listed as ”Vulnerable” in China Red Data Book.

Found in many types of habitats in Hong Kong;

Oriental

Common and widespread resident in Hong Kong;

Very rare in China

Emerald Dove

Chalcophaps indica

Recorded in secondary woodland and developed area

Listed at “Vulnerable” in China Red Data Book

Favours thick woodland and good secondary growth.  South Asia and Australia

scarce but widespread resident in Hong Kong

Yellow-breasted Bunting

Emberiza aureola

Recorded in secondary woodland

Listed at “Vulnerable” in the IUCN Red List

Found in woodland and hillsides with thick scrub cover.  Eurasia

Common passage migrant through Hong Kong

Common / Eurasian Kestrel Falco tinnunculus

Recorded foraging in dry abandoned agriculture land as well as in or over stream in the Study Area

Class 2 Protected Animal of PRC;  Protected under Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap. 586);  Appendix 2 of CITES

Found in open areas, Eurasia and Africa

common autumn migrant and winter visitor through Hong Kong

Slaty-legged Crake

Rallina eurizonoides

Recorded in the dry abandoned agriculture land of the Study Area.  Three birds recorded in one night survey

Listed at “Indeterminate” in the China Red Data Book

Found in woodland and hillsides with thick scrub cover; Oriental

common summer visitor in Hong Kong

Asian Barred Owlet / Cuckoo Owl Glaucidium cuculoides

Recorded flying over wet abandoned agricultural land and secondary woodland. In Sha Lo Tung valley

Class 2 Protected Animal of PRC;  Protected under Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap. 586)

Widely distributed in woodland throughout Hong Kong.  Oriental including South China.

Uncommon resident in Hong Kong

Hwamei Garrulax canorus

Recorded in wet and dry abandoned agriculture land, fung shui and secondary woodland, grassland shrubland mosaic and over stream in the Study Area; foraging

Appendix 2 of CITES

Found in woodland and hillsides with thick scrub cover; North Indo-China to China and South China

Common resident in Hong Kong

Collared Scops Owl Otis lettia

At least three birds were heard in the secondary woodland of the Study Area during one night survey and also around wet and dry abandoned agricultural land during other surveys

Class 2 Protected Animal of PRC.  Protected under Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap. 586)

Found in woodland area; Oriental including South China

Common resident owl species in Hong Kong

Savanna Nightjar Caprimulgus affinis

Recorded at night or in the evening in dry abandoned agricultural land in Sha Lo Tung Valley, in grassland shrubland mosaic in the Development Site and on the Sha Lo Tung road (Developed Area)

Uncommon in Hong Kong

Widely distributed in Hong Kong

uncommon resident and passage migrant in Hong Kong

Large Grass Warbler Graminicola bengalensis

Previously recorded in Sha Lo Tung but not recorded in the ecological surveys

Listed as “Near Threatened” in IUCN Red List

Widely distributed in montane grassland throughout Hong Kong.  Nepal to South China

Rare resident in Hong Kong

Herpetofauna

 

 

 

 

Hong Kong Newt Paramesotriton hongkongensis

Recorded in stream Sha Lo Tung Valley.

Protected under Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap. 170); listed as “Near Threatened” in

IUCN Red List Status

Widely distributed in mountain streams throughout New Territories, Lantau Island and Hong Kong Island

Common

Chinese Bullfrog Hoplobatrachus rugulosus

Recorded in wet abandoned agricultural habitat within Sha Lo Tung Valley

Class 2 Protected Animal of PRC

Widespread throughout the New Territories and Lantau Island

Common

Hong Kong Cascade Frog Amolops hongkongensis

Recorded in stream Sha Lo Tung Valley.

Protected under Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap 170)

Stream and lowland forest

Common

Lesser Spiny Frog Paa exilispinosa

Recorded in wet abandoned agricultural land and Secondary Woodland within Sha Lo Tung Valley

listed as “Vulnerable” in

IUCN Red List Status

Widely distribute in mountain streams throughout Hong Kong.

Common

Common Rat Snake Ptyas mucosus

Recorded in dry abandoned agricultural habitat within Sha Lo Tung Valley

Class 2 Protected animal in PRC; listed as “Endangered” in China Red Data Book

Widespread in Hong Kong

Common

Banded Krait Bungarus fasciatus

Recorded in wet abandoned agricultural land within Sha Lo Tung Valley

listed as “Endangered” in China Red Data Book

Distributed in few localities of the New Territories, Hong Kong Island and Lantau Island.

Uncommon

King Cobra Ophiophagus hannah

Recorded in wet abandoned agricultural habitat within Sha Lo Tung Valley

Protected under Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap. 586);  Listed as “Critically Endangered” in China Red Data Book; Appendix 2 of CITES

Occurs in a wide variety of habitats such as grassland, shrubland, open woodland and occasionally on edge of cultivated areas and mangrove swamps.

Uncommon

Butterfly

 

 

 

 

Common Birdwing Troides helena

Recorded in secondary woodland in the Fung Yuen Valley

 

Protected under Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap 170) and Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap. 586);  Appendix 2 of CITES

Found in habitat where its food plant is abundant.

Food plant: Aristolochia tagala

Uncommon

Golden Birdwing Troides aeacus

Recorded in secondary woodland in the Fung Yuen Valley

Protected under Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap. 586).  Appendix 2 of CITES

Food plant: Aristolochia tagala

Uncommon

Yellow Coster Acraea issoria

Recorded in wet and dry abandoned agricultural land and secondary woodland in the area of the Ecological Reserve

Not Protected

Food plant: Boehmeria nivea

Rare

Dragonfly

 

 

 

 

Chinese Tiger Gomphidia kelloggi

Recorded in forest stream and tall vegetation in wet abandoned agricultural habitat within the area of the Ecological Reserve, foraging

Not Protected

Found in forest stream in Hong Kong; only known from Fujian and Hong Kong

Rare

Large Dragonhunter Sieboldius deflexus 

Exuviae found near stream in the Ecological Reserve during separate Green Power surveys ([73])

Not Protected

Found in Tan Shan River and Tai Po She Shan; Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan

Rare

White-tipped Grappletail Heliogomphus retroflexus

Recorded near stream in the Ecological Reserve during separate Green Power surveys ([74])

Not Protected

Found in Fujian and Taiwan

Rare

Fish

 

 

 

 

Hong Kong Paradise Fish Macropodus hongkongensis

Recorded in stream in the Sha Lo Tung Valley and pools in wet abandoned agricultural land within the Sha Lo Tung Valley

Not protected

Stream, widely distributed in Hong Kong

Uncommon

Small Snakehead Channa asiatica

Recorded in stream in Fung Yuen and the Sha Lo Tung Valley and pools in wet abandoned agricultural land within the Sha Lo Tung Valley

Not protected

Stream, widely distributed in Hong Kong

Uncommon

Predaceous Chub Parazacco spilurus

Recorded in stream in the Sha Lo Tung Valley and pools in wet abandoned agricultural land within the Sha Lo Tung Valley

Listed as “Vulnerable” in China Red Data Book

Stream, widely distributed in Hong Kong

Common

* outside Study Area


9.8                                      Project Area

The Project includes three components: Ecological Reserve, Development Site and Sha Lo Tung Road Improvement (Figure 3.1) comprising various habitats (Figure 9.9). 

9.8.1                                Ecological Reserve

The Ecological Reserve covers areas within Sha Lo Tung Valley and is considered to be of high ecological significance with numerous species of conservation interest recorded (for details refer to Table 9.11).  Habitats recorded include Fung Shui Woods, secondary woodlands, grassland shrubland mosaic, streams, wet and dry abandoned agricultural land, active agricultural land and developed area (abandoned village).  A small patch of wet abandoned agricultural land was found at the northeast of the Development Site, within which small pools and ditches were located.  It should be noted that the habitat quality within Sha Lo Tung Valley is degrading due to threats such as use of four wheel drive vehicles, hill fires, wargames and vegetation removal.  The ecological evaluation of the Ecological Reserve is summarized in Table 9.12.

9.8.2                                Development Site

The Development Site is situated next to the existing Sha Lo Tung Road.  Three habitat types, including grassland shrubland mosaic (approximately 3.7 ha), secondary woodland (approximately 0.3 ha) and developed area (approximately 0.1 ha), were recorded within the Development Site, which comprised a total area of approximately 4.1 ha (Figure 9.10).  The building footprints (including Nature Interpretation Centre, Multi-Cultural Education Retreat and Columbarium structures) are mainly located on the grassy knoll which is a recognised village burial ground, subject to hillfire disturbance and occupies approximately 1.27 ha or 31.0% of the Development Site.

Grassland shrubland mosaic was the dominant habitat of the Development Site, which was occupied by a number of graves and urns.  Small parcels of land lying in the lower ground to the east of the Development Site, which had at one time been agricultural land (See Figure 3.6), were now indistinguishable from the surrounding grassland shrubland mosaic in terms of physical appearance, structure and species composition, due to prolonged abandonment and natural succession.  These small parcels were therefore classified as grassland shrubland mosaic.  Hill fires appear to have occurred frequently within the grassland shrubland mosaic making the site more grassy in nature, possibly as a result of grave sweeping festivals.  Native shrubs, fire adapted grasses and ferns such as Aporusa dioica, Baeckea frutescens, Miscanthus sinensis and Dicranopteris pedata were commonly found in the grassland shrubland mosaic. 

Secondary woodland within the Development Site was more natural and dominated by native trees Schima superba, Schefflera heptaphylla and Ilex ficoidea.  Canopy species reached a height of 8-12 m.  The understorey was densely vegetated and dominated by woody species including Litsea rotundifolia, Psychotria rubra, the climbers Gnetum montanum and Smilax china and the seedlings of the canopy species such as Schima superba and Schefflera heptaphylla.  The floristic diversity of secondary woodland within the Development Site is considered high (144 plant species recorded) and the structural complexity is considered moderate to high. 

The developed area within the Development Site comprised Sha Lo Tung Road, concrete path and washrooms, which was a small portion of the Development Site. 

Species of conservation interest recorded within the Development Site included bird species Greater Coucal, Lesser Coucal, Hwamei, Savannah Nightjar and Crested Serpent Eagle (flying overhead) and the plant species Bamboo Orchid and Willow-leaved Camellia.  The ecological evaluation of the Development Site is summarized in Table 9.12.

9.8.3                                Sha Lo Tung Road Improvement

Habitats recorded along the Sha Lo Tung Road Improvement include secondary woodland, plantation, grassland shrubland mosaic, and developed area (Figure 9.11). 

The secondary woodland along Sha Lo Tung Road was dominated by Schima superba, a pioneer native tree species.  The woodland was about 30 to 40 years in age, and the understorey was fairly well developed.  It was composed of diverse tree, shrub and herb species, including Alangium chinensis, Schefflera heptaphylla, Litsea rotundifolia, Psychotria rubra and Bidens pilosa. 

Plantation was located mainly on the east side of the road from the WSD service reservoir downhill to Ting Kok Road.  Most trees were exotic species, including Acacia confusa, and Lophostemon confertus.  Some native tree, shrub and herb species had colonized the understorey, but at a lower density and diversity than in the understorey of the native woodland.  Despite its tall canopy and rapid growth, the plantation remains relatively simple in structure, immature and lacks diversity. 

Grassland shrubland mosaic dominated the northern half of the road and is subject to fire damage caused by fires escaping from many gravesites in the area.  Grassland shrubland mosaic was composed of common ferns and grasses including Dicranopteris pedata, Miscanthus floridulus and occasional scattered trees in ravines or along the roadside such as Rhus chinensis, Schima superba and Aporosa dioica. 

Developed areas include the existing Sha Lo Tung Road and adjoining access foot paths, the WSD service reservoir, playgrounds, and metal scrap yards near the junction at Ting Kok Road. 

Species of conservation interest recorded along the Sha Lo Tung Road included the plant species Incense Tree, Hong Kong Pavetta, Lamb of Tartary, Cycad Fern, Common Tutcheria and Rhodoleia; the bird species Crested Serpent Eagle, Emerald Dove, Greater Coucal, Lesser Coucal, Hwamei, Savannah Nightjar and a Common Buzzard flying overhead; and evidence of the Masked Palm Civet (a mammal) (only scats found on the road). 

It should be noted that the main works boundary (refer to Figures 9.2 and 9.6) along Sha Lo Tung Road Improvement has taken into account the potential penetration depth of soil nails within the soil mass (underground).  The construction work activities will be restricted to the proposed road alignment, cut slope and soil nailing, and the habitats found within those areas were secondary woodland (approximately 0.35 ha), plantation (approximately 0.20 ha), grassland shrubland mosaic (approximately 0.53 ha) and developed area (approximately 1.22 ha) (Figure 9.10).  The ecological evaluation of the Sha Lo Tung Road Improvement is summarized in Table 9.12.

Table 9.12    Ecological Evaluation of Project Area

Criteria

Ecological Reserve

Development Site

Sha Lo Tung Road Improvement

Naturalness

Secondary woodlands were fairly natural. 

Grassland shrubland mosaic under a certain degree of disturbance, due to hill fires caused by a number of graves located within the habitats.

Stream habitats were fairly natural.

Abandoned agricultural land and developed area are man-made habitats/ intensively modified by humans. 

Grassland shrubland mosaic under a certain degree of disturbance, due to hill fires caused by a number of graves located within the habitats.

Secondary woodlands were fairly natural but under threat of hill fire. 

Developed areas are man-made habitats/ intensively modified by humans dominated by native plants.

Grassland shrubland mosaic under a certain degree of disturbance, due to hill fires caused by a number of graves located within the habitats Secondary woodlands were fairly natural.  .

Plantation and developed area are man-made habitats/intensively modified by humans.

Size

Total: Approximately 52.5 ha. 

Total: 4.1 ha.  Approximately 3.7 ha of grassland shrubland mosaic, 0.3 ha of secondary woodland and 0.1 ha of developed area .

Total: 2.3 ha.  Approximately 0.35 ha of secondary woodland, 0.20 ha of plantation, 0.53 ha of grassland shrubland mosaic and 1.22 ha of developed area.

Diversity

Overall high for vegetation (although only 39 species found at site of temporary bridge structure) and high for fauna

Moderate for vegetation (144 species) and low for fauna.

Moderate for vegetation (152 species) and low for fauna.

Rarity

The Ecological Reserve is very unique in Hong Kong and supports a number of rare/ protected flora and fauna, and is particularly important for odonates.

Species of conservation interest recorded included plant species (Willow-leaved Camellia and Bamboo Orchid) and bird species (Hwamei, Greater Coucal, Lesser Coucal, Savannah Nightjar and Crested Serpent Eagle [flying overhead]).

Species of conservation interest recorded included plant species (Incense Tree, Hong Kong Pavetta, Lamb of Tartary, Cycad Fern, Common Tutcheria and Rhodoleia), bird species (Emerald Dove, Lesser Coucal, Greater Coucal, Hwamei, Savannah Nightjar and Common Buzzard flying overhead) and evidence of the mammal; Masked Palm Civet (only scats found on the road). 

Re-creatability

The Ecological Reserve cannot be recreated.

Habitat characteristics and species composition of Grassland shrubland mosaic is re-creatable but would take time (ie 5 to 10 years) to reach maturity. 

Secondary woodlands are difficult to recreate.  It would take more than 30 years for the secondary woodlands to be re-created.

Developed area is readily recreatable.

Habitat characteristics and species composition of secondary woodland are difficult to recreate.  It will take more than 30 years for the secondary woodlands to be re-created.  Grassland shrubland mosaic are re-creatable but would take time (ie 5 years) to reach maturity.  Plantation, abandoned agricultural land and developed area are readily recreatable.

Ecological Linkage

The Ecological Reserve contains the Sha Lo Tung SSSI and is linked to the Pat Sin Leng Country Park and other natural habitats.

Secondary woodland and grassland shrubland mosaic are linked to the highly valued habitats of Sha Lo Tung SSSI and Pat Sin Leng Country Park respectively.

Secondary woodland and grassland shrubland mosaic are linked to the highly valued habitats of Fung Yuen Valley SSSI and Pat Sin Leng Country Park.

Fragmentation

Not fragmented

Not fragmented 

Not fragmented. 

Potential Value

High. Habitat quality of the Ecological Reserve is degrading due to threats such as use of four wheel drive vehicles, hill fires, wargames and vegetation removal.  The ecological value can be preserved and enhanced through the implementation of the Project.

Moderate.

Moderate.

Nursery/Breeding Ground

Significant breeding ground for odonates.  Possible breeding ground for the Hong Kong Paradise Fish.

No significant breeding ground recorded.

No significant breeding ground recorded.

Age

Sha Lo Tung Valley and the area contained by the Ecological Reserve has a long history of human settlement (over 300 years).

Mature for secondary woodland.

Young for grassland shrubland mosaic,.

Negligible for developed area.

Mature for secondary woodland.

Moderate for plantation

Young for grassland shrubland mosaic.  Negligible for developed area.

Abundance/Richness of Wildlife

Abundance of fauna was high. 

Abundance of fauna was low. 

Abundance of fauna was low to moderate. 

Overall Ecological Importance

The Ecological Reserve has high ecological and conservation significance as a whole.

Moderate to high for secondary woodland. 

Low to moderate for grassland shrubland mosaic. 

Negligible for Developed Area.

Moderate to high for secondary woodland.

Low for plantation.  Low to moderate for grassland shrubland mosaic.  Negligible for Developed Area.

9.9                                      Terrestrial Ecological Impact Assessment and Evaluation

The potential impacts due to the construction and operation of the Project, are assessed (following the EIAO-TM Annex 16 guidelines) in the following sections, and the impacts evaluated (based on the criteria in EIAO-TM Annex 8).

9.9.1                                Potential Sources of Impact

Construction Phase

Ecological Reserve

The enhancement works for the establishment of the Ecological Reserve will include installation of a drop bar at the road entrance to Sha Lo Tung Valley, weed removal, enhancement planting, wet farmland restoration, woodland planting and trail maintenance.  These works will be carried out with hand tools.  A drop bar will be installed at the road entrance to Sha Lo Tung Valley to prevent vehicular access to the Ecological Reserve, but no restriction for the access of walkers/ Country Park visitors/ villagers.  The drop bar will be located outside Sha Lo Tung SSSI and CA zone and the exact location will require approval from the relevant authorities.  No major excavation works and construction works will be required for this part of the enhancement works and no adverse ecological impact is anticipated. 

In addition to the enhancement works mentioned above, there will be some works within the Ecological Reserve associated with fencing at Lei Uk to protect the public from collapsed, dilapidated and unstable structures:

·            In view of public safety there will be permanent fencing installed along the western edge of Lei Uk adjacent to the footpath (Figure 3.3).  Minimal soil excavation for the posts and fence installation will be anticipated and all of the works will be undertaken by hand tools. 

·            A temporary footbridge across the Sha Lo Tung SSSI Steam to Lei Uk will be built (Figure 3.4) during the building of the fence and allow import and export of materials to and from the fencing work site.  The temporary footbridge will provide a defined, set route across the stream and prevent multiple crossing points being used by workers when accessing Lei Uk to undertake the fencing work.  It will therefore minimise disturbance to the surrounding ecologically sensitive areas including the SSSI.  The footbridge will mainly be made of wooden materials to match the existing environment, with small concrete footings (Figure 3.5).  Construction materials including prefabricated timber sections will be transported near the site and hand carried to the proposed site for in-situ assembling on site.  There will be no stockpiling of materials at the site of temporary footbridge.  Construction of the bridge footings will involve minor excavation (dimensions of 500mm (height) x 500mm (length)).  The footings will be away from the stream and avoid dense vegetated areas as far as practicable.  The raw materials for the footings will be hand carried to the locations and mixed in-situ where concrete is placed.  Care will be taken to isolate the mixed material so there is no contamination of the stream.  The temporary footbridge will be removed manually after the erection of fencing around Lei Uk.  All of the footbridge works will be implemented using hand tools during the dry season (November to March) only. 

·            Minor improvements such as vegetation removal may be made to certain sections of the existing footpath to Lei Uk.  To facilitate the transportation of the construction materials, temporary access in the form of metal scaffolding may be formed on the areas near both sides of the existing stream where there is level difference.  The extent of the temporary metal scaffolding will be confirmed on site.  No vehicles except buggies for transportation of materials would be allowed within the valley. 

Development Site

It is estimated that the major construction activities within the Development Site may include site formation, excavation, foundation, superstructure and building construction, landscaping, slope stabilisation and E&M work.  Only small construction plants will be required and no demolition work is required.  Therefore, potential sources of ecological impacts associated with the construction of the Development Site comprise:

·            Direct habitat and vegetation (in particular the plant species of conservation interest listed in Table 9.11) loss and habitat fragmentation resulting from land take for the development and associated facilities;

·            Direct loss of inactive/less mobile/habitat-specific wildlife nesting/inhabiting the affected area;

·            Construction runoff may lead to deterioration of the water quality of the Sha Lo Tung perennial streams and the Sha Lo Tung SSSI (which are important odonate and fish habitats and of ecological significance) and threaten the survival of the stream fauna in particular the larval stage of the odonate community, other stream macroinvertebrates and freshwater fish (for detailed water quality impact assessment refer to Section 6);

·            Potential risk of landslides at the Development Site due to heavy rainstorms, which may impact the perennial stream habitats of the Sha Lo Tung SSSI and affect the associated stream fauna;

·            Associated potential impacts to wildlife (in particular the wildlife species of conservation interest listed in Table 9.11), including restriction of wildlife utilisation of the area (ie, transit, feeding and roosting) and degradation of habitat quality/ ecological function as a result of permanent loss, isolation and fragmentation of ecological habitat; and

·            Potential impacts to the surrounding habitats and ecologically sensitive areas including Country Park, SSSIs, Conservation Area and natural streams, and associated wildlife due to physical disturbance of this habitat including noise, increased human activity or hill fire.

Sha Lo Tung Road

The improvement of Sha Lo Tung Road (mainly widening of existing alignment) will cause similar potential ecological impacts to those identified for the Development Site.  Since the majority of Sha Lo Tung Road is located away from Sha Lo Tung Valley and ecologically important streams, it is expected that the impacts would be less severe compared with the construction activities of the Development Site.  Soil nailing, if required to stabilise slopes particularly downhill, can be implemented carefully to avoid damage to trees and the slope surface can be planted to maintain a green landscape after the improvement works are finished.  In cases where the road platform requires stabilising downhill from the road, soil-nailing can be installed carefully to avoid existing trees and therefore introducing limited disturbance to the existing soil and vegetation on the surface.  Therefore the impact is expected to be temporary and limited disturbance on the secondary woodland, and the finished slope surface can be reinstated or planted for landscaping purpose. 

Operational Phase

·            Potential impacts to the surrounding habitats and ecologically sensitive areas including the Ecological Reserve/ Sha Lo Tung Valley, Country Park and SSSIs, and associated wildlife due to increased human activities and disturbance (ie potential risk of landslide and hill fire, increase of lighting source, increase in traffic at the Sha Lo Tung Road) associated with the operation of the Nature Interpretation Centre, Multi-Cultural Education Retreat cum Columbarium and Sha Lo Tung Road;

·            Surface runoff and drainage from the Development Site and the improved Sha Lo Tung Road (detailed drainage and sewerage impact assessment refer to Annex C and Section 7 respectively); and

·            Potential ecological impacts due to the operation (eg guided tours, organic paddy farming and vandalism) and associated maintenance work (eg removal of weeds, footpath maintenance etc) of the Ecological Reserve.

9.9.2                                Assessment of Ecological Impacts

Ecological Reserve

Due to the sensitivity of Sha Lo Tung Valley in which the Ecological Reserve lies, the proposed action plan and enhancement works should be approved by the Government statutory fund and relevant government departments including AFCD and will be implemented progressively.  Each component of the action plan and enhancement works will be carefully designed and preferably will have trials before full implementation.  Ecological review of the effectiveness of the components will also be undertaken annually in order to avoid any negative ecological effects.

Construction Phase

All of the action plan elements will be implemented using hand tools where practicable.  Should any machinery be required within the Ecological Reserve, prior approval from the relevant authorities is required.  It should also be noted that scientific information and field experience would be accumulated during the early stage of the Project and it would enable more effective planning and implementation of any conservation interventions.

The works associated with the fencing at Lei Uk, construction and removal of the temporary footbridge and minor improvement of the existing new footpath to Lei Uk are all small scale.  In addition with the commitment that all works will be conducted using hand tools during day-time in the dry season, construction materials for the temporary footbridge will only be brought onsite for immediate use (ie no stockpiling onsite) and small quantity of concrete will be mixed in-situ as well, only limited vegetation (along the western edge of Lei Uk adjacent to the footpath, stream bank at the temporary footbridge location and along existing footpath to Lei Uk) will be disturbed.  The footings will be away from the stream and avoid dense vegetated areas as far as practicable.  Therefore, no adverse ecological impact is anticipated.  It has been confirmed that no plant species of conservation interest were recorded within the potential disturbed areas.  Unacceptable impacts on the faunal species of conservation interest recorded within the Ecological Reserve are therefore not expected in association with the fencing at Lei Uk, construction and removal of the temporary footbridge and the minor improvement of the existing footpath to Lei Uk.

Operational Phase

The destructive activities such as use of four wheel drive vehicles, hill fires, wargames and vegetation removal are controlled further to the development of the Ecological Reserve and implementation of the Conservation Management Plan (CMP).  Operational phase impacts to terrestrial ecology in the Ecological Reserve, may arise from increased human activities in the area resulting in disturbance to the surrounding habitats and associated wildlife, if uncontrolled.  The attracted visitors to the Ecological Reserve are expected to come to enjoy and appreciate the nature and uniqueness of Sha Lo Tung Valley, and will be willing to follow the Ecological Reserve regulations.  Trail enhancement, provision of signage and guided tours (provided by the Green Power/ Nature Interpretation Centre), as proposed under CMP, the human activities and disturbance can largely be controlled/ managed and no unacceptable ecological impacts will be anticipated. 

Routine management work carried out during the operational phase, including removal of weeds, would have positive impacts to the habitats on site.  Footpath maintenance (by manual works with stones and weeding, or by small-scale machines) would also have minimal impacts on the surrounding habitats.

In terms of future number of visitors to or via the Ecological Reserve it is anticipated that visitors bypassing the site would be similar to the existing condition, although public access cannot be strictly controlled unless a permitting system is set up.  Two group guided tours/day, each group of 40 people, will be organised by the Nature Interpretation Centre and this is not anticipated to cause any ecological impact.  In addition, access of only major trails will be maintained for the public to other parts of the countryside via the Ecological Reserve, while other paths to streams, woodland and sensitive areas would have restricted access (by gate, signage, planting).  In conjunction with staff patrolling (eg for vandalism) and monitoring, potential impacts due to visitors are not anticipated.

All visitors to the Ecological Reserve will be required to observe certain standards of behaviour and sufficient on-site staff will be provided to monitor such behaviour, in particular during festival periods.  The setting up of the Ecological Reserve is expected to facilitate the enhancement of public education on appropriate behaviour when caring for natural resources.  During festival days, number of casual visitors may increase significantly.  The Development Site will have ample space for visitors (to Columbarium) to relax without having to “spill over” to the Ecological Reserve.  With the provision of sufficient Conservation Ambassadors (eg 30 people, organised by Green Power), who will serve as reserve guards to control, advise and educate visitors on the regulations in the Ecological Reserve, human activities and disturbance will be largely controlled.  The Nature Interpretation Centre will also be closed during festival days to avoid attracting large crowds to the Ecological Reserve, although the Ecological Reserve itself will remain open throughout the year.

With the implementation of the Sha Lo Tung Conservation Management Plan (Annex A1) as proposed in the Pilot Project for PPP Scheme within the Sha Lo Tung Valley, human disturbance such as hill fire will be largely reduced/ controlled, habitat quality will be enhanced, and the ecological resources and conditions of the valley will be conserved and enhanced.  It should also be noted that no unacceptable impacts expect to be anticipated due to the implementation of the CMP (detailed refer to Section 5.2 of Annex A1).  As a consequence, the development of the Ecological Reserve is expected to realize a significant ecological gain over time to the Sha Lo Tung Valley.

Development Site 

Construction Phase

Pat Sin Leng Country Park, Conservation Area, Fung Yuen Valley SSSI and Sha Lo Tung Valley including the SSSI and streams will not be directly affected by the development.  The potential ecological impacts to the Development Site during the construction phase will be:

Habitat Loss

·            Permanent loss of secondary woodland (approximately 0.025 ha), grassland shrubland mosaic (approximately 1.54 ha), and developed area (approximately 0.06 ha) due to the construction of the Nature Interpretation Centre, Multi-Cultural Education Retreat cum Columbarium, and associated facilities including car park, staff quarters and footpaths (Table 9.13).  The habitat loss includes temporary access road and part of the Sha Lo Tung Road improvement which is located within the Development Site boundary; and

·            Temporary loss of grassland shrubland mosaic (approximately 0.16 ha) due to the cut slope and site formation within the Development Site (Table 9.13); and

·            Potential loss of plant species of conservation interest, Willow-leaved Camellia and Bamboo Orchid (Table 9.14).  Indian Birthwort Aristolochia tagala and Hance’s Viburnum Viburnum hanceanum were not recorded within the Development Site, both of which are plant species of conservation interest.

Table 9.13      Overall Habitat Loss due to the Development including the Development Site and Sha Lo Tung Road Improvement

 

Impacted Habitat

Permanent Loss due to the Development Site (ha)

Temporary Loss due the Development Site (ha)

Permanent Loss due to the Sha Lo Tung Road improvement (ha)

Ecological Importance of the Affected Habitats

Soil Nailing

Road Alignment

Cut Slope

Secondary Woodland

0.025

0

0

0.17

0.03

Moderate to high

Plantation

0

0

0

0.24

0.19

Low

Grassland Shrubland Mosaic

1.54

0.16

0.

0.45

0.2

Low to Moderate

Developed Area

0.06

0

0

1.03

0.05

Negligible

TOTAL

1.625

0.16

0

1.89

0.47

 

Notes:

·             The building structures are mainly located on the grassy knoll which is recognised village burial ground and subject to hillfire disturbance.

·             Permanent loss within the Development Site mainly due to land take for the land formation including areas for site office and stockpile), building structures, cut slope and sitting out areas, as well as the proposed landscape hardworks.  The habitat loss includes part of the Sha Lo Tung Road improvement (developed area) which is located within the Development Site boundary.

·             The land take for the development including the main buildings (Nature Interpretation Centre, Multi-Cultural Education Retreat and Columbarium structures, car park and major paths connecting all buildings and landscape areas (ie pavilion and gathering area) only occupies approximately 1.625 ha or 39.6% of the Development Site.  About 0.16 ha of the cut slope areas will be reinstated after construction.

·             Soil nailing is expected to be of limited disturbance to the habitat, in which soil nails will be inserted to stabilise the existing slope and no shotcreting work will be conducted after the soil nailing work.  Habitat loss due to soil nailing is not expected.

·             Enhancement planting may be proposed in the remaining grassland shrubland mosaic habitat within the Development Site, subject to recommendations in Section 10

Associated Impacts to Wildlife, in particular Species of Conservation Interest

In view of the generally poor vegetation cover and human disturbance (hill fire and grave sweeping) of the site, it is believed that the Development Site does not provide optimal habitats for most of the recorded species of conservation interest in Sha Lo Tung Valley as listed in Table 9.11.  The Savannah Nightjar (a rare bird in Hong Kong and like all birds in Hong Kong, protected under WAPO Cap 170) was recorded in the grassland shrubland mosaic of the Development Site.  Although approximately 1.54 ha (or even more grassland shrubland mosaic habitat used for enhancement planting) of this habitat will be permanently lost for the project (see Table 9.13) there is extensive similar habitat in the near vicinity (ie >200ha) and being very mobile, this species should not be impacted.  The Savannah Nightjar is not restricted to grassland shrubland mosaic; it was recorded in the dry abandoned agricultural land of the Ecological Reserve, a habitat that is extensive and not impacted by the Project.  Impact on the Large Grass Warbler (protected under WAPO Cap 170 in Hong Kong, near threatened in IUCN Red List) is also not anticipated.  Although it has previously been recorded in Sha Lo Tung, it was not recorded throughout the Study Area during the ecological surveys for this EIA.  Although a small part of this species’s associated habitat (grassland shrubland mosaic) will be affected (see Table 9.13)), there is extensive similar habitat nearby.  Finally, Large Grass Warblers typically breed in grassland habitat above 500m, and both the Development Site and Sha Lo Tung Valley lie below 220m.  Potential impacts on faunal species of conservation interest are summarized in Table 9.14.

Although there is potential loss of perching sites, foraging and feeding grounds for wildlife it is anticipated that the construction of the Nature Interpretation Centre and Multi-Cultural Education Retreat cum Columbarium will not cause any significant adverse impacts to any species of conservation interest, given that extensive similar natural habitats are available in close proximity particularly after the preservation of the Ecological Reserve.  However, any uncontrolled construction runoff and wastewater may affect the Three-banded Box Terrapin (recorded previously but not in the ecological surveys for this EIA), Hong Kong Cascade Frog, Hong Kong Paradise Fish, Small Snakehead, Predaceous Chub and dragonfly larvae, as well as other macroinvertebrates, in the Sha Lo Tung Streams.  Such impacts will be discussed in the following section.

Table 9.14      Impacts on Faunal and Flora Species of Conservation Interests due to the Development including the Development Site and Sha Lo Tung Road Improvement

Species of Conservation Interest

Impacts

Location

Birds

 

 

Common Buzzard (protected under WAPO Cap 170 and Cap 586 in Hong Kong, Class 2 Protected Animal in PRC, Appendix 2 of CITES.

A small part of their associated habitat (ie perching/ foraging) will be affected; there are extensive similar habitats in proximity.

Flying over grassland shrubland mosaic of the Sha Lo Tung road.

Crested Serpent Eagle (protected under WAPO Cap 170 and Cap 586 in Hong Kong, Class 2 Protected Animal in PRC, China Red Data Book status – Vulnerable)

A small part of their associated habitat (ie perching/ foraging) will be affected; there are extensive similar habitats in proximity.

Flying over grassland shrubland mosaic of Development Site and in plantation of Sha Lo Tung Road

Lesser Coucal (protected under WAPO Cap 170 in Hong Kong, Class 2 Protected Animal in PRC, China Red Data Book status – Vulnerable))

A small part of their associated habitat (ie perching/ foraging) will be affected; there are extensive similar habitats in proximity.

Grassland shrubland mosaic of Development Site and Sha Lo Tung Road

Greater Coucal (protected under WAPO Cap 170 in Hong Kong, Class 2 Protected Animal in PRC, China Red Data Book status – Vulnerable)

A small part of their associated habitat (ie perching/ foraging) will be affected; there are extensive similar habitats in proximity.

Grassland shrubland mosaic of Development Site and plantation of Sha Lo Tung Road

Emerald Dove (protected under WAPO Cap 170 in Hong Kong, China Red Data Book status – Vulnerable)

A small part of their associated habitat (ie perching/ foraging) will be affected; there are extensive similar habitats in proximity.

Secondary woodland of Sha Lo Tung Road

Hwamei (protected under WAPO Cap 170 in Hong Kong, Appendix 2 of CITES)

A small part of their associated habitat (ie perching/ foraging) will be affected; there are extensive similar habitats in proximity.

Grassland shrubland mosaic and secondary woodland of both Development Site and Sha Lo Tung Road

Savannah Nightjar (protected under WAPO Cap 170 in Hong Kong, rare in Hong Kong)

A small part of their associated habitat (ie resting/ foraging) will be affected; there are extensive similar habitats in proximity.

Recorded in grassland shrubland mosaic of Development Site and resting on the Sha Lo Tung road (developed area).  (Also found in dry abandoned agricultural land in the Ecological Reserve)

Large Grass Warbler (protected under WAPO Cap 170 in Hong Kong, near threatened in IUCN Red List)

A small part of their associated habitat (ie resting/ foraging) will be affected; there are extensive similar habitats in proximity.  Both the Development Site and Sha Lo Tung Valley lie below 220m, which is far lower than the typical grassland habitat the Large Grass Warbler utilises for breeding (above 500m).

Previously recorded in Sha Lo Tung but not recorded in the ecological surveys.  Widely distributed in montane grassland throughout Hong Kong

Other bird species of conservation interest including Crested Goshawk, Black Kite, Yellow-breasted Bunting, Kestrel (Common/Eurasian Kestrel), Slaty-legged Crake, Asian Barred Owlet / Cuckoo Owl and Collared Scops Owl

Potential loss of a small part of their associated habitat (ie resting/ foraging); there are extensive similar habitats in proximity. 

Recorded within the Study Area but not the project area

Herpetofauna

 

 

Chinese Bullfrog

None of their associated habitat will be directly affected; there are extensive similar habitats in proximity.

Pools in wet abandoned agricultural land and woodland at the northeast of the Development Site

Lesser Spiny Frog

None of their associated habitat will be directly affected; there are extensive similar habitats in proximity.

Pools in wet abandoned agricultural land and woodland at the northeast of the Development Site

Fish

 

 

Hong Kong Paradise Fish (uncommon species)

None of their associated habitat will be directly affected; there are extensive similar habitats in proximity.

Pools in wet abandoned agricultural land at the northeast of the Development Site

Small Snakehead (uncommon species)

None of their associated habitat will be directly affected; there are extensive similar habitats in proximity.

Pools in wet abandoned agricultural land at the northeast of the Development Site

Predaceous Chub (China Red Data Book status – Vulnerable)

None of their associated habitat will be directly affected; there are extensive similar habitats in proximity.

 

Pools in wet abandoned agricultural land at the northeast of the Development Site

Odonates - Dragonflies

 

 

Chinese Tiger (Gomphidae family) (uncommon species)

It should be noted that none of these three dragonflies were recorded within the main works area (development site and Sha Lo Tung road improvement site) but this species and other members of the Gomphidae family like to perch on tree tops and therefore the minor impacts on the woodland within the Development Site and next to Sha Lo Tung Stream may cause potential loss of their habitat.

A small part of their associated habitat (tree top for perching) will be affected; there are extensive similar habitats in proximity.

Secondary woodland stream and wet abandoned agricultural land within the Ecological Reserve

Large Dragonhunter (Gomphidae family) (rare species)

Exuviae found near perennial stream in the Ecological Reserve

White-tipped Grappletail (Gomphidae family) (rare species)

Recorded near stream flowing through wet abandoned agricultural land in the Ecological Reserve

Mammals

 

 

Masked Palm Civet

A small part of their associated habitat (trees for sleeping and woodland for foraging) will be affected’ there are extensive similar habitats in proximity.

Scat found on Sha Lo Tung Road

Flora

 

 

Common Tutcheria

Potential loss of the plant species might be avoided through proper design of the the road or transplantation.

In secondary woodland within the Sha Lo Tung Valley and in plantation along the existing Sha Lo Tung Road.

Lamb of Tartary

Potential loss of the plant species might be avoided through proper design of the the road or transplantation.

In woodland, along stream and wet abandoned agricultural land, all in Sha Lo Tung Valley; and also in woodland along the existing Sha Lo Tung Road

Willow-leaved Camellia

Potential loss of the plant species might be avoided through proper design of the development or transplantation.

In woodland in the Sha Lo Tung Valley and within the secondary woodland of the Development Site

Bamboo Orchid.

Potential loss of the plant species might be avoided through proper design of the development or transplantation.

In grassland shrubland mosaic of the Development Site

Incense Tree

Potential loss of the plant species might be avoided through proper design of the road or transplantation.

In secondary woodland along the existing Sha Lo Tung Road.

Hong Kong Pavetta

Potential loss of the plant species might be avoided through proper design of the road or transplantation.

In secondary woodland along the existing Sha Lo Tung Road.

Rhodoleia

Potential loss of the plant species might be avoided through proper design of the road or transplantation.

In plantation along the existing Sha Lo Tung Road.

Cycad Fern

Potential loss of the plant species might be avoided through proper design of the road or transplantation.

In grassland shrubland mosaic and on existing Sha Lo Tung road

Habitat Fragmentation and Isolation

Habitat fragmentation and isolation is expected to be low to moderate in the Development Site as the affected habitats are located at the entrance of Sha Lo Tung Valley and upland areas are small in size and are already subject to disturbance due to hill fire.  Additionally most of the surrounding natural and undisturbed habitats within the Pat Sin Leng Country Park, Conservation Area, Sha Lo Tung SSSI and Sha Lo Tung Valley will remain untouched.  With provision of tree/ shrub plantings, impacts due to habitat fragmentation and isolation will further be reduced.

Construction Runoff

Runoff and drainage from construction within the Development Site may contain considerable loads of suspended solids and contaminants.  Potential sources of water pollution from site runoff include:

·            Runoff and erosion of exposed bare soil and earth, drainage channels and stockpiles;

·            Uncontrolled discharge of wastewater generated from concrete washing and sewage generated from on-site work force;

·            Release of cement materials with rain wash;

·            Wash water from dust suppression sprays and vehicle wheel washing facilities; and

·            Fuel, oil, and lubricant from maintenance of construction vehicles and mechanical equipment.

Local water pollution could be substantial if the construction site runoff is allowed to drain into the nearby perennial streams at Sha Lo Tung SSSI, the wet abandoned agricultural land, storm drain and/ or natural drainage without mitigation.  The wastewater from the above washing activities, particularly concrete washing, may contain high levels of suspended solids and high pH value.  Direct discharge of such wastewater would have potential impacts to the water quality of the nearby Water Sensitive Receivers (WSRs) located below the Development Site, in particular Sha Lo Tung streams.  The Sha Lo Tung streams are recognised as an important habitat for dragonflies and dragonfly larvae as well as fish of conservation interest (eg Hong Kong Paradise Fish, Predacious Chub, Small Snakehead) and due to the ecological importance and sensitivity of the Sha Lo Tung streams, any discharge of the construction runoff and wastewater may threaten the survival of the stream fauna in particular the larval stage of the dragonfly communities and cause irreversible ecological impacts.

The ecological impacts and effects on water quality from the construction activities will be controlled, provided that major earthworks are scheduled in the dry season, a well designed temporary drainage system (including catchpits and drainage pipes to direct the hinterland surface runoff without flowing across the site and resulting in any contamination due to site activities) is installed, a 20 m building buffer from Sha Lo Tung SSSI is maintained, a phased schedule and good construction practices are implemented (refer to Sections 3 & 6).

In accordance with Section 9.1 of the Technical Memorandum of Standards for Effluent Discharged into Drainage and Sewerage Systems, Inland and Coastal Waters, no treated effluent is allowed to be discharged within 100 m of the landward boundaries of a site of SSSI.  Portable chemical toilets will be deployed for the site workers at a location away from the SSSI as much as possible; these will be surrounded by temporary interceptor drains and appropriately mounted, and a licensed contractor will be appointed for appropriate maintenance of these facilities and disposal of waste (by replacing the used portable chemical toilets and no on site cleansing to be allowed) will be provided for the site workers.  Thus, as there will be no discharge of treated or untreated sewage on site, the impacts on ecological sensitive receivers through changes in water quality from domestic sewage effluent are likely to be minimal.

Change in Hydrology and Flow Regime

The overall design philosophy for the stormwater drainage is to retain the rainfall-runoff response as close to the existing regime as possible to minimise impacts.

During the construction phase, surface runoff will be collected by the proposed drainage system at the Site and will then be discharged into the existing drainage system at Ting Kok Road via the proposed drains at Sha Lo Tung Road. 

Calculations are presented in Annex C that consider the overall site as a series of discrete elements.  The total area of water catchment land draining into the Sha Lo Tung Valley stream system upstream of, and including the Development Site area, is shown in Figure 3.1 of Annex C and is estimated to be approximately 39.9 ha.  When one examines the land classification for this area only about 1.625 ha of this represents flow through areas of proposed development comprising paved surfaces and buildings with rooftop gardens.  This represents only approximately 4.07% of the area contributing flow into the Sha Lo Tung stream at the location of the development and only 0.29% of the total land area draining into the Sha Lo Tung stream system upstream of the Hok Tau Reservoir which is in the region of 555 ha.

Other Impacts

Secondary impacts to the surrounding habitats, in particular the Sha Lo Tung Valley, secondary woodlands, natural perennial streams at Sha Lo Tung SSSI, Conservation Area and Pat Sin Leng Country Park and associated wildlife may arise from increased noise impact, human activities, disturbance and potential risk of landslides at the development site due to heavy rainstorms.  The impacts arising from increased noise impact, human activities and disturbance are expected to be low to moderate owing to the temporary nature and relatively small scale of the construction works (earthworks undertaken only during the dry season when heavy rainstorms are not expected).  Following the geotechnical standard criteria in design of temporary works and provision of measures to increase robustness of slopeworks during construction within the development site, risk of landslip within the site can be largely reduced and thus pose minimal impact to the adjacent ecological sensitive streams (for further details refer to Section 3.4.9).  Environmental management measures and regular checks on construction boundaries will be conducted.  Impacts to ecological resources are not predicted to be unacceptable.

Cumulative Impacts

The Fung Yuen Residential Development and associated road works are currently ongoing.  The project works fall within the Study Area but are expected to be completed when the current Project construction works commences and therefore no concurrent projects are anticipated.

It should also be noted that the existing Sha Lo Tung Road has to be improved before the construction activities of the Development can commence and therefore these would be undertaken in sequence and not concurrently.

Operational Phase

Surface Runoff

The overall design philosophy for the stormwater drainage is to retain the rainfall-runoff response as close to the existing regime as possible to minimise impacts.  There is currently no structured drainage provision within the Development Site or for Sha Lo Tung Road.   The improved Sha Lo Tung Road and car park within the Development Site will be kerbed and will have back of kerb filter drains, trapped road gullys and a piped stormwater system.  This will discharge run-off to a pumping station located beneath the car park area with all flows being discharged back over the crest of the access road and into the structured road drainage to be provided as part of the road improvements.  The pumping station pumps and wet well will be sized to control the rate of discharge from the development vehicular zone such that the road drainage system will not be overloaded.  Removing the upgraded Sha Lo Tung Road and car park runoff from the Development Site will not only eliminate the risk of oil leakage spillage contaminating the natural stream courses it will also offset the potential for increased runoff from the proposed Development Site and therefore maintain the hydrological balance of the Sha Lo Tung stream system.

For non-vehicular development areas porous or semi permeable paved surfaces will be used in association with grassed swales and soakaways to attenuate run-off.  Terraced construction will control the rate of surface runoff with catchpits providing oxygenation and solids removal at the steps formed.  The run-off from the development non-vehicular zone will be routed to pass through grit separators beneath the proposed car park to remove sediments associated with “first flush” flow.

To ensure water quality objective are met and consequential ecological impacts are minimised, all surface run-off from the improved Sha Lo Tung Road and car park within the Development Site will be pumped off site with no interaction with the existing stream system (see also Change in Hydrology and Flow Regime). 

Lighting Scheme

To the extent practical, structures will utilise appropriate design to complement the surrounding landscape.  Materials and finishes will be considered during detailed design (eg finishing of the building surfaces will be in non-reflective, subdued colours to match the surrounding natural environment).  There will be minimal public areas lighting and the major lighting sources will be pointed inward and downwards, and non-essential lighting will also be switched off in the middle of the night to avoid disturbance to wildlife.  The in-residence training in the Multi-Cultural Education Retreat requires a tranquil environment and will have no activities at night time.  Minimal lighting will be expected during the operation of the Multi-Cultural Education Retreat cum Columbarium. 

Vegetation Maintenance

Application of pesticides, insecticides and normal chemical fertilizers for the landscaping purposes and vegetation maintenance will be prohibited during operation of the Development Site.  Should organic fertilizers or slow release chemical fertilizers be required for encouraging the growth of planted vegetation, prior approval from EPD and AFCD will be required.  Ecological and water quality impacts to the downstream wetland habitats are not anticipated in the Development Site.

Hillfire

Accidental hillfire is expected to be minimal as no burning of effigies and paper offerings will be allowed at the Multi-Cultural Education Retreat cum Columbarium.  A Quick Fire Response Team will be set up during the operation of the Multi-Cultural Education Retreat cum Columbarium and it should also be noted that emergency access for fire engines will be available after the improvement of Sha Lo Tung Road has been completed.

Under the Sha Lo Tung pilot project, an aggressive fire-suppression programme will be implemented to prevent the occurrence of hill fires.  Disturbance due to hillfire, visitors and vandalism would be controlled by pro-active management, including patrolling and conservation education. 

Increased Human Activities and Disturbance

As discussed previously for the Ecological Reserve, the destructive activities such as use of four wheel drive vehicles, hill fires, wargames and vegetation removal, which could also affect the Development Site, are controlled further to the development of the Ecological Reserve and implementation of the Conservation Management Plan (CMP). 

Special traffic arrangements will be implemented during important Festivals (ie Ching Ming or Chung Yeung) to control the number of vehicles and people to the Development Site.  Buyers of Class A niches (20,000) might visit the Columbarium at any time but prior booking would be required during festival days.  Access to the Development Site by vehicle during festival days would be limited to shuttle coach services provided by the SLTDC.  Only eligible ticket holders with prior booking would be allowed to take the shuttle.  Buyers of Class B niches (40,000) would not be allowed to visit the Columbarium during the festival days.  Control points would be set up and visitors who walk up the SLT Road without valid tickets would not be allowed to enter the Columbarium.  Sufficient staff would be deployed by the SLTDC in the Columbarium for crowd control purpose.  It should be noted that the above arrangement only applies to visitors to columbarium, visitors to the trails and Country Park will not be affected.

The direct disturbance of natural habitats and wildlife due to increased human activities of the Multi-Cultural Education Retreat cum Columbarium is expected to be minimal as Sha Lo Tung Valley will be properly managed under the proposed Pilot Project for PPP Scheme, human activities (ie grave sweeping) will be restricted to within the Development Site, and no burning of effigies and paper offerings will be allowed.  In addition the Development Site will have ample space for visitors to relax without having to “spill over” to the natural habitats.

Risks of Landslides during the Operation Phase

It is expected that where existing slopes within the Development Site are found to be below current safety standards, they are recommended for upgrading works that should have involved careful assessment of the geological and groundwater condition, likely modes of failure and detailed design in accordance with relevant Practice Note for Authorized Persons (PNAP) and Geotechnical Manual for Slopes with adopting a minimum factor of safety of 1.4 for these engineered slopes.  With doing this, the landslide risk during operation phase could be remained at a low level and is well above the threshold safety standard.

Proper maintenance prevents the deterioration of slopes within the site.  In addition to regular maintenance during operation, routine inspections by a chartered engineer and enhanced maintenance using prescriptive measures (GEO Report No. 56) as appropriate shall be carried out to achieve quick improvement to the stability of existing non-engineered slopes within the development site. The frequency of these routine inspections shall make reference to Geoguide 5: Guide to Slope Maintenance.

During occupation of the development buildings the risk of landslide should be very low and can effectively be reduced by good design and construction of slopeworks as well as its proper maintenance.

Change in Hydrology and Flow Regime

As stated previously the overall design philosophy for stormwater drainage is to retain the rainfall run-off response as close as possible to the existing regime thereby minimizing impact.  In this context it is worth noting that the total area of water catchment land draining into the Sha Lo Tung Valley stream system upstream of, and including the Development Site area, is approximately 39.9 ha.  When one examines the land classification for this area only about 1.625 ha of this represents flow through areas of proposed development comprising paved surfaces and buildings with rooftop gardens.  This represents only 4.07% of the area contributing flow into the Sha Lo Tung stream at the location of the development and only 0.29% of the total land area draining into the Sha Lo Tung stream system upstream of the Hok Tau Reservoir which is in the region of 555 ha.

The detailed approach presented in Appendix C determines separate natural catchment areas that are within and/or affected by the proposed development.  After identifying the sub-divisions in the natural topography based on their drainage characteristics it is possible to develop mitigation measures to minimize the impact of the development on the existing drainage system and in particular the discharge into Sha Lo Tung Stream.  The approach to drainage impact mitigation measures has an overriding objective to retain and maintain the existing quality and quantity of water flow into the natural stream systems as well as the wet abandoned agricultural land downstream of the Development Site.  In doing so it is intended to draw clear distinctions between the following run-off and drainage circumstances:

·            Development Site subject to vehicular traffic (“development vehicular zones”) – where the run-off will be collected using back of kerb filter drains, trapped road gullys and a piped stormwater system.  This will discharge run-off to a pumping station located beneath the car park area with all flows being discharged back over the crest of the access road and into the structured road drainage to be provided as part of the road improvements ;

·            Developments Site with no vehicular traffic (“development non-vehicular zones”) – where porous or semi permeable paved surfaces will be used in association with grassed swales and soakaways to attenuate run-off.  Terraced construction will control the rate of surface runoff with catchpits providing oxygenation and solids removal at the steps formed.  The run-off from the development non-vehicular zone will be routed to pass through grit separators beneath the proposed car park to remove sediments associated with “first flush” flow (details refer to Annex C). 

·            After removal of sediments clear water can be discharged via a storage tank and non-developed buffer zones into the existing stream system. 

·            Areas within the development site that are either naturally vegetated, landscaped and/or undisturbed area (“non-development zones”) where run-off will not have any interaction with the development and can pass into the existing stream system via the buffer zones.

The principal impacts on the existing drainage that require mitigation are as follows:

·            Increase in the total volume of run-off;

·            Increase in peak intensity of run-off flow; and

·            Increase in risk of pollution.

The increase in water quantity has been addressed by minimising the creation of impermeable surfaces, encouraging natural ground water recharge through soakaways/filter drains and transferring all road runoff into the adjacent urban catchment (Tai Po).  The increase in peak intensity has been addressed by controlled run-off attenuation using swales, naturally lined channels, catchpits, and grit separators with outlet control and undeveloped buffer zones.  The risk of pollution has been addressed by transferring runoff from high risk area to the adjacent urban catchment, and the use of catchpits, filter drains and grit separators in the traffic free, low risk Development Site.  The ability to discharge all stormwater flow off site without interaction with the Sha Lo Tung stream has also been reviewed for emergency scenarios.

Therefore adverse hydrological changes to Sha Lo Tung Stream and impacts on flow regime have been “designed out” of the stormwater management system proposed and adverse impacts either in terms of quantity or quality are not anticipated during operation of the Project.

Sha Lo Tung Road Improvement 

The existing Sha Lo Tung Road (approximately 2.3 km) is the only vehicular access to the Development Site.  The reason for the proposed improvements is to upgrade the existing roadway to the standard requirement of a Single Track Access Road that would also enable emergency access for fire engines.  Upon completion, the minimum width of the improved Sha Lo Tung Road will be 4.5 m.  In the absence of the road improvements, delivery of emergency services would not be practicable.  In order to meet the traffic demand during construction and facilitate the transportation of construction plant or raw materials to/from the Development Site, it is proposed to complete the road improvement works prior to commencement of site formation works. 

The principles of the design for the road improvement works are: -:

·            Minimize disturbance to the existing landscape and trees;

·            Preserve woodlands of ecological value;

·            Provide a safe access road engineered to meet the traffic demand; and

·            Enable emergency vehicle access to the Ecological Reserve, Nature Interpretation Centre and Multi-Cultural Education Retreat cum Columbarium.

Following the principles of the improvement works, the impacts arising from the upgrading of Sha Lo Tung Road will be kept to a minimum, and the improved road will be able to provide emergency service access, serve the conservation facilities, Pat Sin Leng Country Park and WSD Service Reservoirs etc.  In light of the low volume of traffic forecast, the access road shall remain a single track access road with basic improvements to satisfy the Transport and Planning Design Manual (TPDM) requirements and minimise the potential ecological impacts as far as practicable.  These include:

·            The access road shall follow the existing road alignment and profile to minimise earthworks and impacts to the existing environment.  Nevertheless, the road shall be re-profiled to ensure a maximum gradient less than 16% because a gradient more than 16% is not suitable for use of emergency vehicles;

·            The road will be widened towards the eastern side through cutting the uphill slopes to avoid disturbing the woodland dominating on the western side.  Plantation habitat (most trees were exotic species) was located mainly on the east side of the road from the WSD service reservoir downhill to Ting Kok Road.  Some native tree, shrub and herb species had colonized the understorey, but at a lower density and diversity than in the understorey of the secondary woodland.  Despite its tall canopy and rapid growth, the plantation remains relatively simple in structure, immature and lacks diversity.  Plantations of exotic tree species typically support less wildlife than secondary woodlands;

·            The proposed road improvements on the northern half of the road would be carried out in grassland shrubland mosaic to the extent possible because this is a habitat of typically low to moderate ecological value;

·            The soil nailing, if required to stabilise slopes particularly downhill, can be implemented carefully to avoid damage to trees and the slope surface can be planted to maintain a green landscape after the improvement works are finished.  Therefore the impact is expected to be temporary and limited disturbance on the secondary woodland, and the finished slope surface can be reinstated or planted for landscaping purpose.;

·            Provision of a drainage system with additional verges and sewers along the route; and

·            Appropriate landscape design along the access road.

Construction Phase

Pat Sin Leng Country Park, Conservation Area, Fung Yuen Valley SSSI and Sha Lo Tung Valley including SSSI and streams will not be directly affected by the development.  The improvement of Sha Lo Tung Road will generally be implemented on the eastern uphill side to avoid most of the woodland located on the western or downhill side of the road.  There would be no direct impact to Pat Sin Leng Country Park or to either of the SSSIs (Sha Lo Tung and Fung Yuen) and Conservation Area because the road improvements avoid these protected areas.  Further to the implementation of the design principle listed above (for more details refer to Section 3.4), the potential ecological impacts during the construction phase will be:

Habitat Loss

Potential habitat loss was estimated by overlaying the proposed alignment on the habitat map using ArcView GIS.  The following components of the road improvement would cause loss of habitat and would be taken into account: improvement of the roadway, uphill cut slopes and construction of retaining walls downhill. 

The soil nailing, if required to stabilise downhill slopes, can be implemented carefully to avoid damage to trees.  It is confirmed that there is limited and temporary disturbance to the existing soil and vegetation on the surface, as well as the associated habitat.  Therefore soil nailing is not included in the habitat loss estimates. 

In contrast, construction of retaining walls would cause some loss of habitat.

·            Permanent loss (worst case scenario) of secondary woodland (approximately 0.2 ha), plantation (approximately 0.43 ha), grassland shrubland mosaic (approximately 0.65 ha) and developed area (approximately 1.08 ha) due to the improvement works of the Sha Lo Tung Road (refer to Table 9.13); and

·            Potential loss of plant species of conservation interest including Incense Tree, Lamb of Tartary, Hong Kong Pavetta, Rhodoleia, Common Tutcheria and Cycad Fern (Table 9.14).

The design principles in the road improvement works include minimising disturbance to the existing landscape and preserving landscapes of ecological value.  The earthwork and geotechnical work has been minimised to adopt the minimum requirement but meet the road standard for emergency vehicles.  The loss of the secondary woodland on downhill slopes would be minimised where possible by improving the road on the uphill side.  Where this is not possible, retaining walls would be constructed on the downhill slopes, and loss of the secondary woodland could be minimised not more than 0.2 ha.  This small area loss is inevitable because (i) woodlands line both sides of the roadway over one section; and (ii) some retaining walls must be constructed on the downslope side of the road due to conflicting land use on the upslope side in the vicinity of the WSD facilities.

Associated Impacts to Wildlife

Potential loss of foraging and feeding ground for wildlife, particularly species of conservation interest recorded along Sha Lo Tung Road during the surveys, are summarised in Table 9.14.  In particular it is anticipated that the Savannah Nightjar, found resting on the road during one survey, will not be adversely affected.

Habitat Fragmentation and Isolation

As the Sha Lo Tung Road Improvement will be undertaken along the existing road and as the scale of the habitat loss is small in the context of the surrounding similar habitats, the potential impacts of habitat fragmentation and isolation are considered to be minimal.

Construction Runoff

Runoff and drainage from construction sites may contain loads of suspended solids and contaminants.  Potential sources of water pollution from site runoff include:

·            Runoff and erosion of exposed bare soil and earth, drainage channels and stockpiles;

·            Uncontrolled discharge of wastewater generated from concrete washing and sewage generated from the on-site work force;

·            Release of cement materials with rain wash;

·            Wash water from dust suppression sprays and vehicle wheel washing facilities; and

·            Fuel, oil, and lubricant from maintenance of construction vehicles and mechanical equipment.

Local water pollution could be substantial if the construction site runoff is allowed to drain into the nearby streams and Sha Lo Tung SSSI, the storm drain or natural drainage without mitigation.  The wastewater from the above washing activities, particularly concrete washing, may contain high levels of suspended solids and high pH value.  Direct discharge of such wastewater would have potential impacts to the nearby Water Sensitive Receivers (WSRs) located at the northern end and to the west of Sha Lo Tung Road. 

The ecological impacts and effects on water quality from the construction activities will be controlled, provided that the majority of earthworks are scheduled in the dry season, a well designed temporary drainage system (which will pump away the construction runoff without discharge into the Sha Lo Tung catchment area) is provided, and a phasing schedule and good construction practices are implemented (refer to Sections 3 & 6).

Other Impacts

Secondary impacts to the surrounding habitats, in particular the Sha Lo Tung Valley, secondary woodlands, natural streams at Sha Lo Tung SSSI, Conservation Area and Pat Sin Leng Country Park and associated wildlife may arise from the increased noise impact, human activities and disturbance.  The impacts are expected to be low to moderate owing to the temporary nature and relatively small scale of the construction works (major earthworks undertaken only during the dry season) and environmental management measures, and regular checks on construction boundaries will be conducted.  Impacts to ecological resources are not expected to be unacceptable.

Cumulative Impacts

The Fung Yuen Residential Development and associated road works are currently ongoing.  The project fall within the Study Area but are expected to be completed when the current Project construction works commences and therefore no concurrent projects are anticipated. 

It should also be noted that the construction of the Development Site and Sha Lo Tung Road Improvement would not be undertaken concurrently, as the existing Sha Lo Tung Road has to be improved before the construction activities of the Development can commence.

Operational Phase

It is anticipated that the potential ecological impacts due to the operation of the improved Sha Lo Tung Road would be minimal.

Surface Runoff

Vehicles will enter the Nature Interpretation Centre, and the Multi-Cultural Education Retreat cum Columbarium via the improved Sha Lo Tung Road.  The road runoff may contain minimal amounts of oil, grease and grit that may cause ecological and water quality impacts to the watercourses, if uncontrolled.   

The improved Sha Lo Tung Road and car park within the Development Site will be kerbed and will have back of kerb filter drains, trapped road gullys and a piped stormwater system.  This will discharge run-off to a pumping station located beneath the car park area with all flows being discharged back over the crest of the access road and into the structured road drainage to be provided as part of the road improvements.  The pumping station pumps and wet well will be sized to control the rate of discharge from the development vehicular zone such that the drainage system for the upgraded Sha Lo Tung Road will not be overloaded.  Removing the upgraded highway and car park runoff from the Development Site will not only eliminate the risk of oil leakage spillage contaminating the natural stream courses it will also offset the potential for increased runoff from the proposed Development Site and therefore maintain the hydrological balance of the Sha Lo Tung stream system.

Roadkill

The traffic volume along the Sha Lo Tung Road is forecast to remain low (on festival days only the proponent’s shuttle buses and emergency vehicles will be allowed to use Sha Lo Tung Road and restricted to daytime).  Therefore, wildlife killed on the road due to collision with a vehicle (roadkill) is unlikely to happen; throughout the surveys no roadkill was observed and a species of conservation interest that was recorded resting on the road (Savannah Nightjar) flew off as the surveyors approached in their vehicle.  The improved Sha Lo Tung Road will not have street lighting installed and hence there will be no associated adverse impacts (eg attract wildlife to the road at night). 

9.9.3                                Impact Evaluation

Potential impacts to ecology have been evaluated according to Table 1 of Annex 8 of the EIAO TM. 

Habitat Loss

No habitat loss is anticipated in the Ecological Reserve due to the Project.  Minimal vegetation disturbance is expected during the works associated with the fencing at Lei Uk, construction and removal of the temporary footbridge and minor improvement of the existing new footpath to Lei Uk.  Habitats affected by the Development Site and the Sha Lo Tung Road Improvement include secondary woodland, plantation, grassland shrubland mosaic and developed area.  Tables 9.15 to 9.19 present an evaluation of the habitat loss due to the Project (effectively Development Site and Sha Lo Tung road, as there is no habitat loss in the Ecological Reserve).

Secondary Woodland

There will be permanent habitat loss of approximately 0.025 ha and 0.2 ha of secondary woodland at the Development Site and along Sha Lo Tung Road respectively due to the development.  Although soil nailing will cause some temporary disturbance to the top soil and understory flora within the Sha Lo Tung Road Improvement area no trees will be affected.  The soil nails lie beneath the surface and areas initially affected by their insertion would be planted or become naturally covered with vegetation in time.  The loss of secondary woodland habitat is therefore considered negligible.  

In view of the small size of the habitat affected by the Development Site and along Sha Lo Tung Road Improvement, the availability of similar habitat in the vicinity, it is considered that the impact to the wildlife within the secondary woodland would not be unacceptable.

Table 9.15      Overall Impact Evaluation for Secondary Woodland due to the Project