Advisory Council on the Environment

Landscape Value Mapping of Hong Kong
(without Annexes)

(ACE Paper 28/2000)
For circulation


  1. The purpose of this paper is to seek the views of Members on the scope and approach of the captioned Study prior to finalization of the study brief and invitation of Expression of Interests from Consultants to undertake the Study.


  1. In Hong Kong, no comprehensive landscape assessment for the whole territory has been ever undertaken. Only a broad-brush appraisal of the urban landscape for the metropolitan area (attached at Annex A) was undertaken in the late 1980s to examine its landform, vegetation cover and character. Sporadic and piecemeal landscape assessments have from time to time been undertaken, mainly in connection with individual studies or projects.
  2. During the consultation stage of the Study on Sustainable Development for the 21st Century (SUSDEV21), natural scenery and built landscape were repeatedly raised as important components of sustainability and were suggested for inclusion as indicators in the decision-support tool developed under SUSDEV21.
  3. In many countries, especially in Europe, comprehensive landscape assessments are an established element of the land use planning process. In consideration of the sustainability of a project, much emphasis has been put on the importance of landscape character, which is a combination of all natural and man-made components, giving identity and a sense of place. In the United Kingdom, for example, landscape character maps have been prepared at nationwide, regional, county and local levels. An award-winning landscape character assessment for Northern Ireland (1999) is attached at Annex B for Members' reference (extracted from Landscape Design Journal).
  4. This Study will involve the undertaking of a systematic survey and analysis mapping of the existing landscape resources of the whole territory of Hong Kong to develop a territorial baseline for a new sustainability indicator. Such baseline information will provide a consistent and systematic framework to evaluate landscape qualities including landscape and visual impact assessment for various development studies and proposals.


  1. The primary goal of this exercise is to undertake a comprehensive survey to produce a landscape character map on the existing landscape resources of Hong Kong. Specifically, the Study has a number of key objectives:
          (a) develop a better understanding of the landscape resources in Hong Kong, both in terms of quality and quantity;
  (b) establish the baseline conditions of the existing rural and urban landscape resources;
  (c) establish a classification system based on a systematic approach of classifying the various types of landscape resources located within the territory;
  (d) identify specific landscape character areas, recognizing key elements such as physical landscape, visual qualities, sense of place, ecology, natural history and attributes that provide their character and identity; and
  (e) carry out a comprehensive survey to build up a consistent and coherent set of data and produce a landscape character map for use in the decision-support tool developed under SUSDEV21. Such data and map would provide a framework for assessing landscape and visual impacts of individual projects (including, but not limited to, those projects which may be required under the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance or the Town Planning Ordinance).


  1. To achieve the objectives, the Study will cover the following major tasks:
           Task 1: Study Methodology and Initial Development of Landscape Categorization and Classification Criteria

In the initial phase of the Study, the Consultants shall recommend a suitable methodology and approach to the Study based on established landscape survey techniques used in other countries and specifically adapted to meet local circumstances. This shall involve the outline selection of landscape character types (LCT) and landscape character areas (LCA) so as to develop suitable categories for the mapping exercise. An initial set of classification criteria, which may include natural factors (such as landform, drainage, vegetation cover etc.), social factors (such as land use, settlement pattern, sense of place, memorable place/building group, etc.) and aesthetic factors (such as landmarks, views and viewing points, special character of a place, visual amenity etc.), shall be formulated to provide a system to classify and map the rural and urban landscape in all areas of Hong Kong.

  Task 2: Scoping of Existing Information and Development of Classification System

A scoping exercise that encompasses a review of all existing relevant information shall be conducted to identify any key gaps in the existing data. The consultants shall then recommend suitable methods of obtaining information to fill such data gaps and propose a plan for undertaking surveys to obtain the necessary information. The scoping exercise shall also include a review of relevant overseas experience and information to help develop a suitable and recognized system of landscape character classification for Hong Kong.

  Task 3: Baseline Assessment

The baseline assessment shall include both desktop research and field surveys. The desktop research will involve the collation of a wide range of existing information in Hong Kong. A mapping exercise, using aerial photographs, remote sensing data, literature, plans, reports and existing relevant studies, will be conducted to build up an initial understanding of the territorial landscape resources, both in terms of quality and quantity. Based on the study methodology, a preliminary landscape character map at a scale of 1:10,000 will be prepared for Hong Kong which will be divided into a series of LCT and LCA for more detailed assessment.

Field surveys will be undertaken to verify the boundaries of the LCT and LCA, identify the aesthetic qualities that are intrinsic within those boundaries, and record their range of variation in landscape character. The field surveys will also record any specific features within the LCT and LCA and their sensitivity to potential changes. Photographic and descriptive records shall be taken during the field surveys.

  Task 4: Analysis and Classification of Landscape Character

Analysis of the survey data and information gathered from the desktop research and field surveys will be conducted to verify and refine the boundaries. Based on the findings, the LCT, LCA and any specific landscape resources and features identified will be examined and classified based on the finalized set of classification criteria.

  Task 5: Production of Landscape Classification Map and Reporting

Following verification and rectification, the data will be transcribed into a landscape classification map. The map shall be in GIS format which may form part of the database system in the decision support tool developed under SUSDEV21.

A descriptive report, accompanied with annotated maps and photographs, shall be produced along with the GIS map. The data shall be prepared in a format that will enable them to be easily monitored and updated on a regular basis and can help keep track of potential change.



  1. The Study will cover the whole territory of Hong Kong. It will include both the rural and urban landscapes.


  1. In addition to the current round of consultation on the scope of work, we will further consult relevant bodies and interested members of the public in the course of Study in two different stages on:
       (a) the study methodology and initial development of landscape categorization and classification criteria; and
  (b) the major findings and the overall recommendations of the Study.


  1. Expressions of Interest for the Study will likely be invited by the end of 2000. The Study is anticipated to commence in early 2001 and the study period will be about 18 months, excluding the time required for public consultation.


  1. Members are invited to comment on the scope and approach of the Study as set out in paras. 6 to 10 above.

JULY 2000


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