AN OVERVIEW ON NATURE CONSERVATION AND COUNTRYSIDE CONSERVATION IN HONG KONG
Natural Heritage In Hong Kong
Although Hong Kong is one of the most urbanised and densely populated metropolises in the world, out of the total 1 108 square kilometres of land, about three quarters is countryside. Hong Kong offers a variety of great scenic beauty including landscapes rising from mountain ranges, woodlands, open grasslands, wetlands, rocky foreshores to sandy beaches. The biodiversity of Hong Kong is also impressively rich for such a small place, which offers suitable habitats for thousands of different species.
Nature Conservation Policy
The Government is committed to protecting our valuable natural heritage. To this end, the New Nature Conservation Policy was introduced in 2004 to regulate, protect and manage natural resources that are important for the conservation of biological diversity of Hong Kong in a sustainable manner, taking into account social and economic considerations, for the benefit and enjoyment of the present and future generations of the community. This policy also aims to enhance the conservation of ecologically important sites, in particular those in private ownership. Twelve Priority Sites for Enhanced Conservation have been identified. Under this policy, two schemes have been introduced for better conservation of these sites, namely, the Nature Conservation Management Agreement Scheme and the Public Private Partnership Scheme. For more details, please visit New Nature Conservation Policy.
The Government has designated 24 country parks, 22 special areas with a total area of about 44 300 hectares for the purposes of nature conservation, recreation and education. There are also five marine parks and one marine reserve, covering a total sea area of 3 400 hectares to protect marine species and habitats. In addition, three ecologically important habitats have been designated as restricted areas to restrict human access and minimise disturbance to the wildlife there. About another 7 700 hectares of Hong Kong's land are subject to stringent planning and development controls under conservation zonings on statutory town plans including Site of Special Scientific Interest, Conservation Area and Coastal Protection Area. These statutory protected areas account for over 40% of total land area in Hong Kong. For more details, please visit here.
Remote areas in the countryside are rich in ecological, architectural and cultural resources. To protect the natural ecology of the countryside and revitalise the architectural environment of villages, the Chief Executive announced in the 2017 Policy Address that a Countryside Conservation Office would be established to coordinate conservation projects that would promote sustainable development of remote countryside. For more details, please visit here.
Other Conservation Work
Protection of Endangered Species
The Government is committed to the protection of endangered species and abides by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in the regulation of trade in endangered species through the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap 586), the local legislation that gives effect to the CITES.
In particular, we introduced the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants (Amendment) Ordinance 2018, which had come into effect on 1 May 2018, to enhance regulations on import and re-export of ivory and elephant hunting trophies and to phase out the local ivory trade by end of 2021, as well as to increase the maximum penalties on smuggling and illegal trade in endangered species to provide stronger deterrent effects. For more details, please visit here.
Conservation of Biodiversity
Hong Kong has remarkably rich biodiversity and a natural terrain with diverse habitats close to the highly urbanised city. Conservation of biodiversity is important to the sustainable development of the city. In December 2016, the Government launched the first city-level Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (BSAP) 2016-2021 for Hong Kong. The 67 specific actions under BSAP are grouped under 4 major areas: (1) enhancing the existing conservation measures; (2) mainstreaming biodiversity in relevant policies, programmes, works and projects by public and private sectors; (3) improving the knowledge on biodiversity; and (4) enhancing public awareness of and participation in biodiversity. Since the launch of BSAP, these actions have been implemented progressively in accordance with the planned timetable. As it is the first BSAP for Hong Kong, the main focus is on mainstreaming biodiversity and cultivating greater public support and understanding. Please visit here for more details.