Recently, Paul Chan Mo-po, the Secretary for Development had posted an article on his blog asking whether we should turn some country park area into residential area. It has became a popular debate topic shortly afterwards.
The country parks in Hong Kong are protected from development by the Country Park Ordinance. There are 24 country parks, which account for around 40 percent of Hong Kong’s land area . The main purposes of having country parks are for nature conservation, recreation and education. There is an increasing trend of the visitors going to country parks—the annual number of visitors increased from 11.2 million to 13.3 million in 10 years time . This shows the increasing importance of the country parks towards the public.
Most of the green groups and citizens have expressed their strong disagreement towards constructing residential buildings in country parks. For example, former Hong Kong Observatory chief Lam Chiu-ying said the suggestion of using country parks for development was cancerous thinking and World Wide Fund Hong Kong had invite the public to write “Country Park Enclaves Petition Letter” to oppose the urban development in country parks . They may object the suggestion of turning country parks into residential area due to the following reasons:
Firstly, in terms of environmental aspects, country parks have high conservation value. A large amount of trees and many precious plants and animal can be found in country parks. The trees are important as they are the lungs of the city—they are responsible to maintain the oxygen and carbon dioxide balance in the atmosphere. Also, the precious plants can be used in scientific investigation and new medicine may then be created. Moreover, the animal should be protected so as to prevent any extinction of species so that the ecological balance is maintained. Building housings in country parks requires clearance of land in which a large area of vegetation would have to be removed and thus number of endangered or extinct species may increase, which destroys the ecological balance. At the end, Hong Kong citizens may have to suffer from worsened air pollution and loss of certain valuable herbs.
Secondly, from the social aspect, development in country parks may lower the quality of living in Hong Kong. As mentioned above, worsening air pollution may be resulted. This would increase the chance of having respiratory diseases and citizens may have to suffer from the illness, which lowers their quality of life. In addition, polluted water supply may be resulted as well. According to SCMP , “a former head of a green group says country parks also serve as water catchment areas.” Hence, if there were construction work in country parks, the drinking water in the reservoirs may be contaminated. As a result, the clean water supply to the households decreases and hence there may be shortage of clean water supply, which may badly affect the daily life of households that receive water from...