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2021-4-22 體驗荔枝窩

作者: 香港鄉郊基金顧問 劉勵超

新冠肺炎肆虐,國內外實施入境限制,熱愛外遊的港人無處可去,本港鄉郊頓成熱點。不過絕大部分人都是「打卡」一日遊,原因除了往返市區交通便利外,就是香港的鄉郊民宿設施可說是絕無僅有,而風餐露宿卻不合大眾口味。正因如此,香港人的郊遊模式其實是錯過了「打卡」以外的鄉村生活和文化體驗。

位於新界東北的客家村荔枝窩和梅子林,歷史悠久,背山面海,世代務農捕魚,因遠離市區,得以保持客家人數百年的傳統、文化和建築特色。上世紀村民不敵香港農業式微,精壯者大舉移民歐洲謀生,年長者則遷居沙頭角及新界其他地方。村屋因長年空置,樑崩屋塌,隨處頹垣敗瓦,昔日稻田草樹叢生。然而,僑居海外的村民原鄉情濃,農曆新春及有重大傳統活動如打醮,均會專程回港參加慶典及敍舊,村中重要的地標如廟堂及牌坊均有集資修葺。

像荔枝窩和梅子林這般的優山美地,若非地處一隅,而村民無意出售祖業,可能早已成為發展商囊中物,興建世外桃源的豪華度假村和高爾夫球場,掩埋了本港碩果僅存古村的物質和非物質文化。若非近年社會滙聚各方推動本土文化、可持續發展、鄉郊保育、本土農業的力量,加上政府政策配合與資助,村民縱然有心也無力讓荔枝窩回復昔日的氣象。

香港鄉郊基金以促成活化荔枝窩為己任,得到村民、村長、村民社企「暖窩」,以及鄉事委員會的支持,聯同香港大學策動永續發展坊及眾友好保育團體,在滙豐銀行和香港賽馬會的經濟支援下開展了各項計劃,包括復耕、修復破爛村屋、疏浚河道、搜集農具及上世紀村民日用品作為「荔枝窩故事館」展品,組織周末和假日農墟出售復耕後收成的農產品,以及招募和安排義工協助上述活動。眾志成城,過去數十年杳無一人的荔枝窩,今天已有數戶常住人口。新界鄉議局亦認同荔枝窩走可持續性發展的路。

香港鄉郊基金獲馬會撥款,選了15座村屋,以象徵性租金租用該等村屋20年,徹底復修後計劃開放給團體或個人作民宿,約滿後交回屋主,解決了村民無力或無意斥巨資復修饒富歷史意義的傳統客家建築物的問題。荔枝窩民宿有別於長洲式度假屋,宿客能花多點時間體驗傳統客家農村生活,包括下田插秧割禾或休閒地學習及享受客家飲食文化,也有更多機會與村民互動交流。民宿日後的營運,基金希望交給村民非牟利組織負責。

復修村屋的工作面對不少技術上的挑戰,既要盡量保存客家土法建築的內外特色,又要滿足主要為規管現代高樓大廈建築和消防設施的法例要求。加上村屋日後用作民宿又要申領條件嚴謹的賓館牌照,村屋何時才能正式開放予公眾住宿,還要視乎有關部門會否體會鄉郊村落的實況,靈活及酌情處理一些技術要求,配合鄉郊保育和活化政策。這方面就得靠環保署的鄉郊保育辦公室,加大力度協調政府部門,讓民宿早日成事。

筆者上周自告奮勇充當白老鼠,在復修後的其中一間村屋度宿一宵。之前一天走訪荔枝窩附近的梅子林村,難得村長親自介紹該村的活化計劃及戶外美化工程,繼而在荔枝窩民居享用以自家農作物烹製的西式午餐及客家晚飯,與初次見面的戶主無拘無束暢談荔枝窩的今昔。翌日大清早起床,雖因天氣欠佳未能觀賞日出,但在村外沿着印洲塘海岸公園邊緣散步,清風送爽也是賞心樂事。這次荔枝窩度周末是一次極之愉快的體驗,非「鴨仔團」快閃遊可比擬。

(原文刊登在2021年4月22日 「信報」天圓地方)

Hakka Life Experience Village @ Lai Chi Wo 荔枝窩客家生活體驗村

Aerial view of Lai Chi Wo Village 荔枝窩鳥瞰

The Hong Kong Countryside Foundation Limited, under the Chief Executive’s Community Project List 2015/16, was granted funding by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust to conserve and restore a group of village houses, as the base for the operation of experiential learning programs and to provide accommodation for program participants. The group of houses will be operated as an integral entity. Profit if any from the operation will be applied to the maintenance of the houses. The restoration of houses will be done carefully and sensitively to retain the existing characters of the houses and village as a whole. New facilities will be installed to meet or surpass the current hygiene and fire safety requirements. The project will restore the 15 village houses in the initial phase, and ultimately 25 houses.
香港鄉郊基金有限公司根據行政長官社會資助計劃2016,獲得香港賽馬會資助,將為當地的部分村屋進行保育和復修,為訪客提供住宿及不同類別的客家文化學習體驗課程。村屋是「客家生活體驗村」不可或缺的部分,營運收益將用作村屋的維修保養。在復修過程中,會盡量小心保存現有村屋及整體村落原貌,同時新增設施以提升衞生及防火設施的標準。項目的第一期將會先復修 15 間村屋,目標最終復修共25間村屋。

Through a series of experiential learning programmes and workshops,the Hlev@lcw will resurgent the old hakka cultural tradition in order to provide the public a stronger understanding on LCW as the best preserved hakka enclosed village in hk with its characterized hakka history and culture. The Project will launch 12 el programmes in a seasonal pattern throughout the coming 4 years.With the professional training in the Docent training course, candidates are anticipated to be professional guides in the village and to serve as workshop instructors in specific areas as well as offering a range of activities for the Project.

All selected participants are required to attend the core programme “Lai Chi Wo and Surrounding Village Docent Training Course.” They are also required to attend at least 2 elective modules: “Hakka Life Experience Docent Training Course.” Both deposits and certificates will be issued upon their completion of the courses, training assessments, and assigned training hours.

荔枝窩客家生活體驗村希望透過一系列的文化體驗及工作坊,重現荔枝窩昔日的客家文化傳統,讓大眾加深了解荔枝窩作為香港現存最完整的客家圍村的歷史文化特色。計劃將在四年內按季推行12個體驗活動。期望招募學員報讀荔枝窩導賞員班及導師培訓班,以接受專業培訓,完成課程後他們不但可成為荔枝窩村的專業導賞員,更可於特定範疇內擔任工作坊導師,並為日後的住宿項目提供多元化活動。

To learn more, please visit the project website 了解更多:https://www.lcw-hakka-life.org/
Or be a follower of the facebook page 或追隨面書: www.facebook.com/???

Management Agreement Scheme @ Lai Chi Wo Enclave

荔枝窩自然管理協議

Since October 2017, the Hong Kong Countryside Foundation, partnering with the Conservancy Association andwith the funding support of the Environment and Conservation Fund (ECF), has engaged local community farmers at Lai Chi Wo to farm for conservationunder the project “Management Agreement Scheme at Lai Chi Wo Enclave~ (in short “MA”).

 

2017年10月起,香港鄉郊基金伙拍長春社,獲得環境及自然保育基金資助,携手與當地社區農夫(簡稱: “荔農”),以自然友善農耕方式,進行《荔枝窩自然管理協議》(下稱“管理協議”)。

The MA project is made up of 4 pillars of work, namely:

“管理協議”項目,工作包括四大範疇:

  • Biodiversity conservation – currently 5 taxa/ species namely odonate (dragonfly), butterfly,
    dragonfly+butterfly+water fern
    amphibian, water fern and rice fish are surveyed regularly. Conservation measures are adopted in eco-farming, to safeguard the quality of the habitat so as to benefit the sustenance of these species.
  • 生物多樣性保育 – 現涵蓋5 類物種,包括蜻蜓、蝴蝶、蛙兩棲動物?、水蕨和米魚,進行定期生態調查,自然友善農耕採納了自然保育措施,保障提供優良的棲息地,有利生物生存和繁衍。
  • Community engagement – the Foundation leases farmland from indigenous villagers and engages local community farmers for collective efforts. Regular and informal meetings are held to facilitate communication on the execution of the project.
  • 社區參與 – 鄉郊基金向村民租地,組織社區農夫共同協作,與持份者定期開會及隨機傾講, 就項目的執行交流溝通。
  • Education – Volunteer engagement and public activities are organized to promote the work and objectives of the project. Guided tours and talks organizations are conducted for students and various organisations, to promote the importance of biodiversity, countryside conservation and rural sustainability.
  • 教育活動 –組織義工和舉辦公眾活動,介紹項目的工作和目的,也通過導賞和講座,讓學生們和各界組織認識生物多樣性、鄉郊保育和永續發展的重要性。
  • Active management – Guidelines and rules are establishedfor the farming community to follow. Eco-friendly farming is practised, based on the principles of organic farming, to nurture the soil and water as well as to support diversified flora and fauna.  Furthermore, control measures are adopted to suppress the spread of invasive species.
    4 Pillars of MA@LCW
  • 積極管理 – 項目訂立守則與約章,給社區農夫遵循,與自然友善的耕作方式,建基於有機耕種的原則, 育養水土和支撐多元動植物的生存,同時採取控制措施,遏止外來入侵物種散。

 

Want to learn more 想了解更多,歡迎瀏覽 :

Website of the Conservancy Association 長春社網頁 link 連結
Facebook: www.facebook.com/lcwma

Want to support us 支持我們?

  • Follow us on facebook facebook.com/lcwma
    追蹤我們的面書
  • Participate in our events and activities
    參與我們的活動
  • Volunteering work
    擔任義工
  • Be our community farmers
    成為我們的社區農夫
  • Purchase eco-friendly farm products
    購買生態友善的農產品

香港鄉郊基金就部份荔枝窩村村民對「客家生活體驗村」項目的誤解作出以下說明 (2018-4-24)︰

  1. 項目性質 – 此項目旨在保育荔枝窩村客家文化,內容包括復修村屋及提供體驗式學習活動,絕非「地產發展」項目。
  2. 財務 – 項目的運作先由鄉郊基金墊支,然後向賽馬會慈善信託基金申請發還,不存在坐擁巨款的情況。
  3. 程序 – 鄉郊基金嚴格遵守廉政公署的指引和建議,所有財務程序均經多重核實和審批,並由專業會計師獨立核數。
  4. 利益  – 荔枝窩村村長沒有從鄉郊基金或「客家生活體驗村」項目取得任何金錢利益,鄉郊基金絕不容忍本項目的運作出現任何違法行為。
  5. 溝通 – 鄉郊基金於項目展開前已派人到英國與海外村民溝通,過去半年又透過會面和書信,持續與不同組群的荔枝窩村民對話交流,坦誠洽商。
  6. 鄉郊基金明白村民尤其是旅居海外的村民愛鄉情切,表達對項目的關注理所當然,相信指稱「鄉郊基金操控荔枝窩村」及「諮詢費」之說源於誤解及以訛傳訛,鄉郊基金將繼續耐心與村民溝通釋除疑慮。
  7. 項目進度 – 項目計劃復修25間村屋,第一期已簽署了16間村屋的租約﹔第二期村屋招募已經展開,於4月30日截止,直到今天收到了28間村屋表示參與項目的意向書。
    建築顧問團隊已於2017 年12 月就任,負責土地勘察及設計工作。現正展開前期地盤清理及勘探,修屋工程即將開始。
  8. 「客家生活體驗村」項目:

概述

此乃「香港賽馬會慈善信託基金資助的行政長官社會計劃」項目,復修及保育25間荔枝窩村屋,組成「客家生活體驗村」,提供體驗式學習活動,及為參加者提供住宿。 將來的營運如有盈餘,用作有關村屋的維修費用。

長遠目標

通過體驗學習活動及保育鄉村建築特色,保育和推廣客家鄉村文化,促成建立一個立足本村的非牟利社會企業,長遠營運「客家生活體驗村」。

土地規劃

配合計劃的開展,首批16間村屋復修作「酒店(度假屋)用途」之申請已獲城市規劃委員會批准。

財務安排

復修村屋的費用,香港賽馬會將按建築師批核承建商單據直接向承建商支付。其他經常性開支、項目職員薪資及顧問費用,均由香港鄉郊基金墊支,再由香港賽馬會慈善信託基金於檢查單據後付還。在此項目中,香港鄉郊基金、所有董事會成員及委員會成員,全部為公益事業義務工作,絕無金錢利益。鄉郊基金運作這項目的現金周轉,全頼熱心公益人士提供免息貸款運作。

 

香港鄉郊基金

2018年4月24日

通訊處︰九龍彌敦道480號鴻寶商業大廈14樓

電郵 : david.au@hkcountryside.org

電話︰2698 0043

網址︰    http://www.hkcountryside.org/
 https://www.lcw-hakka-life.org/

2017-12-07 Why Hong Kong country parks are a poor choice for public housing

By Roger Nissim,  Adjunct Professor, Real Estate & Construction Dept, HKU and current adviser of the Hong Kong Countryside Foundation 

(original text published on SCMP 2017-12-07)

As a member of the Citizens Task Force on Land Supply I was encouraged to see members of the Country and Marine Parks Board question the Housing Societies criteria for choosing the fringes of Tai Lam and Ma on Shan Country Parks for potential housing.

Actually Government chose them before passing them to the Housing Society to evaluate thereby attempting to subvert the whole statutory planning process. Government should have done the evaluation first following the normal planning procedures to ascertain the suitability of the sites for development. But before they start they need to be ensure that, legally, they can excise any part of any Country Park for development when under the Country & Marine Parks Ordinance there is a basic presumption against any development until they have exhausted  ALL the other possible options for creating development land.

These options would include the implementation of the New Development Areas such as Hung Shui Kiu and Kwu Tung North, a review of all Brownfield sites, including the 105 vacant school sites, negotiating with the developers who have hundreds of hectares of redundant agricultural land waiting to be developed and placing such suitable identified land into properly planned layouts so implementation, by resumption if necessary, can take place.

Country Park land is remote usually with poor access and invariably lacking in basic services. So before any such land can be considered for development there should be traffic, drainage/sewage, environmental and visual impact assessments. The maximum plot ratio in these remote locations would be 1, nothing like the normal 5 plot ratio associated with public housing and what is needed to have a real impact on housing supply. Any rational cost benefit analysis would show that these sites represent a very poor choice.

Last month the Planning Department published the new Draft Kam Tin South OZP, Plan No. S/YL-KTS/14 which after a proper three year planning process has zoned sites for private residential development, public housing and the usual supporting facilities but has completely excluded the immediately adjacent parcel of Tai Lam Country Park which has been suggested the Housing Society consider. Clearly the planners have concluded that this land is not suitable for development and should remain as part of the country park so the Housing Society will be simply wasting its time to consider it any further. Governments attempt to subvert the proper planning process has clearly failed.

香港鄉郊基金 – 新聞稿及土地規劃政策立場 (2017-8-22) HKCF Press Release and Position Paper on the use of country park land for building development

香港鄉郊基金

新聞發佈

2017822

[English version further down]

  1. 近來多了向郊野公園(包括船灣淡水湖)要地用作房屋用途的言論,香港鄉郊基金強調郊野公園是供香港廣大市民享用的公共資源,有極為重要的康樂、旅遊、自然保育及歷史文化保育功能,不可隨意侵蝕
  2. 就香港政府有關找尋土地供廉租公營房屋及非牟利老人院等用途的政策目標,香港鄉郊基金已向香港政府遞交了一份立場書。
  3. 香港鄉郊基金認為在達致此目標的過程中,政府必須遵循現有政策、最優做法及以原則為本的施政方式,找尋土地的過程應該基於一個土地等級制度,郊野公園及根據郊野公園條例指定的特殊地區應為最後和逼於無奈的選擇
  4. 政府有幾個不需要製造新土地的選項:
    a. 檢視香港現有房屋的使用

             b.檢視現有政府土地儲備及填海土地的計劃用途

                 計劃用途應與廉租公營房屋及非牟利老人院比較,擴建廸土尼樂園顯然不能視                   為比廉租公營房屋更應在已填海得到的相關土地上建設。

            c. 工業區及工業樓宇重訂用途

  1. 在香港找尋土地興建廉租公營房屋及非牟利老人院,優先次序應該基於一個土地等級制度,郊野公園及根據郊野公園條例指定的特殊地區應為最後和逼於無奈的選擇。以下段落列出相關的土地等級,排在前面的等級應優先考慮:

            a.新發展地區、新市鎮擴展項目、統合發展區

            b. 棕地

                  棕地面積有估計超過1,000公頃,雖然沒有官方定義,不過視乎破壞程度,棕                       地包含以下幾類:

                  i. 類近工業土地、露天貨倉、未獲授權用途

                ii. 政府及私人土地,例如空置學校、潛在可以建築平台的基建項目、道路、鐵                        路及路邊空地

                iii.     已破壞或閒置的政府土地,如工地、舊學校、臨時停車場等

           c. 只有在以上各個等級都考慮淨盡後才應依次考慮以下等級:

                 i. 已受破壞、低生態價值、極低可能恢復生產的農地

                    約850公頃這樣的農地位於道路和鐵路附近,或在現有城鎮周邊,有以較低成                      本和較短時間內進行房屋開發的潛質。

                ii. 沒有受到法律保護的鄉郊地區

                iii. 正在耕作或高質素的農地

               iv. 各種受到保育規劃保護的土地,包括綠化帶、自然保育地區、具特殊科學價                      值地點、2004年新自然保育政策指定的優先保育地點、郊野公園不包括土                             地、水塘及引水區、郊野公園及特殊地區

  1. 香港鄉郊基金向政府遞交的文件全文(暫時只有英文本)附加於後。
  2. 如有查詢,請電郵chairman@hkcountryside.org 或致電林超英先生9109-1202。

 


Hong Kong Countryside Foundation

Press Release

22 August 2017

  1. Recently there are noises about using country park land (including the Plover Cove Reservoir) for housing purpose. The Hong Kong Countryside Foundation (HKCF) strongly stated that country parks are a public resource for public enjoyment by the Hong Kong  It has important functions in recreation, tourism, nature conservation and the conservation of cultural and historical heritage.  Haphazard attempts to take country park land away are not permissible.
  2. HKCF has submitted a position paper to the Government regarding its stated policy objective of searching for suitable land for public low-cost housing and elderly accommodation.
  3. HKCF advocates that the Government’s approach to achieving this objective must follow existing policies, best practice and principled governance. The approach to selecting land for such purposes in Hong Kong should be based on a hierarchy of land categories in which Country Parks (“CP”) and Special Areas designated under the Country Parks Ordinance should be the option of last resort.
  4. A number of options exist for Government without creating new land, including:
  • Review the current utilization of Hong Kong’s existing housing stock. Review of planned uses of existing Government land banks and reclamations.
  • Planned uses should be re-assessed vis-a-vis low-cost housing and elderly accommodation. Notably, the expansion of Disneyland cannot reasonably claim higher priority than low-cost housing on the existing designated reclamation land.
  • Re-purposed industrial areas and buildings.
  1. The priority for selecting land for public low cost housing and elderly accommodation in Hong Kong should be based on a hierarchy of categories of land in which Country Parks and Special Areas designated under the Country Parks Ordinance should only be the option of last resort. The following paragraphs set out the hierarchy in descending order of priority.
  • New Development Areas, New Town Extension Projects and Comprehensive Development Areas
  • Brownfield Sites.  The area of brownfield sites has been estimated to be more than 1,000 hectares.  While there is no official definition of brownfield site, however, in order of degradation we suggest it includes the following categories:

            i. Quasi-industrial land, open storage, and unauthorised existing uses

          ii. Govt Land and Private Land such as empty schools and potential podiums above                      infrastructure, highways, railways, and roadside area.

        iii. Degraded or idle Government Land, such as worksites, old schools, temporary                     carparks and others.

  1. Only when the above categories have been considered and exhausted should the following categories be considered, in descending order of priority.
  • Degraded farmland of low ecological value and with poor potential for restoration to productive agriculture. Some 850 hectares of such farmland is located in the proximity of roads or railways and/or on the periphery of existing towns and so have potential for housing development at relatively lower costs and in shorter time-scale.
  • Unprotected Countryside
  • Active or good quality Farmland
  • Conservation zonings of various types including GB, CA, SSSI; Priority Sites under the 2004 New Nature Conservation Policy and CP Enclaves; Reservoirs and catchments and Country Parks and Special Areas.
  1. The full text of HKCF’s submission to the Government (English only) is available appended below.
  2. For further enquiries, please contact Mr Roger Nissim by email rabnissim@gmail.com or telephone on 9385-5820.

 


 

The Hong Kong Countryside Foundation

On land for public low cost housing and elderly accommodation

For Policy Address

SUMMARY

The Hong Kong Countryside Foundation (HKCF) recognizes the Policy Objective to find suitable land for public low-cost housing and elderly accommodation.  The Government’s approach to achieving this objective must follow existing policies, best practice and principled governance.  The approach to selecting land for such purposes in Hong Kong should be based on a hierarchy of land categories in which Country Parks (“CP”) and Special Areas designated under the Country Parks Ordinance should be the option of last resort.

INTRODUCTION

  • Sensible and established process. The Government should conduct its search for land for housing development in a holistic manner, keeping in view the full range of society needs, using established procedures and professionals in the Planning Department and with the participation of the NGO community (Area 4 of the Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2016) and Government’s Multi-Pronged approach to finding land resources (paras 117 and 121of the 2017 Policy Address).

PRINCIPLES

  • The processes to be followed should be transparent, professional, consultative, statutory and fair. To use Hong Kong Housing Society, a quasi-Government property agency, to develop housing projects on a pre-determined site circumvents established processes, deviates from principled governance and thus is wrong in principle.  It would be seen by the public as collusion driven by vested interests for a land grab by a body conflicted by its own interest in a pro-development outcome because of having interests and objectives for building development.
  • The Government has committed to “Maintain and enhance Protected Areas” (Action 1 of the BSAP). CP is Protected Area (PA).  Logical and normal planning principles and existing policies require Protected Areas of various sorts to be considered for building development only after all other alternatives have been assessed and exhausted.  The Government, or indeed any developer, should be required to demonstrate an overriding public need before CP and PA types of land is to be excised.
  • Sensible and principled governance requires prior examination of better land options or other alternative solutions for low cost housing and elderly accommodation. All those land categories of less value to the public should be examined first before any CP land is stripped of protection for building   It is neither good planning nor principled governance to only look at using CP land when objectively this is the worst option.
  • Good planning is best achieved by following existing Government Policies for planning, conservation and land use including inter alia: –
    1. HK’s Nature Conservation Policy, the Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (which implements the Convention on Biological Diversity and other international standards and principles, and which contributes to China’s National BSAP; see BSAP 2016 4.2).
    2. the Sustainable Development Policy, which in this application means the Sustainable use of Natural Resources again based on international best practice, and
    3. Planning Department’s own principles and criteria as set out in the HK Planning Standards and Guidelines and Town Planning Ordinance.

PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS

  • Land suitable for public housing requires convenient access to mass transport such as MTR, facilities to manage high volumes of sewage and waste disposal, and other infrastructure support for urban life. CP landscapes are typically hilly. Site formation and stabilization in hilly areas increases the site footprint, development costs, time and environmental impacts.  Road access to areas hitherto protected by their remoteness would lead to degradation and trashing.  When such abuses arise, resources will be needed to ensure effective enforcement actions by relevant departments.  This will add to the costs of unsuitable places being selected.  Pursuing the CP option is no quick fix.
  • Sites suitable for the elderly require nearby medical facilities, hospitals, social services and an enhanced need for emergency vehicular access, which are not typical characteristics of CP land. Improperly selecting sites in CP land would add to the isolation and the risk to a particularly vulnerable sector of the community.

PROCESSES

  • The EIA process must be used to ensure a professional, transparent, independent, and unbiased assessment is made in the public interest. The assessment must include the impacts of the project, the cumulative impacts, and consider alternative development options other than the developer’s preferred option to avoid and reduce impacts.  This assessment must also consider other sites (e.g. brownfield sites) as alternatives to avoid the impacts.  ACE must participate in evaluating development proposals against objective criteria.  ACE and AFCD have important roles in implementing BSAP which is Hong Kong’s duty to the Nation.
  • The Country and Marine Parks Board must assess and rigorously perform its duties to protect the CP according to the objectives of the Country Parks Ordinance. It should assess and require corresponding compensation via extensions of CP to offset the losses of area and ecological and recreational functions caused by individual developments impacting CPs and their periphery.
  • The assessment must, in all cases, go through the Town Planning Board with the Board following principles, policies, and factual and expert evidence. The Board should be neutral and unbiased in its decision making process.

HIERARCHY FOR SELECTING LAND

  • A number of options exist for Government without creating new land, including:
    1. Review the current utilization of Hong Kong’s existing housing stock.
    2. Review of planned uses of existing Government land banks and reclamations. Planned uses should be re-assessed vis-a-vis low-cost housing and elderly accommodation.  Notably, land sold to developers for private luxury housing does not yield low-cost housing while the expansion of Disneyland cannot reasonably claim higher priority than low-cost housing on the existing designated reclamation land.
    3. Re-purposed industrial areas and buildings. Experience has shown that old factory buildings can be repurposed for a variety of uses reflecting the city’s changing needs.  Alternatively, clusters of such buildings could be re-developed through holistic planning to serve the specific needs of our ageing population, with retirement villages, hospitals, day care centres and recreational facilities.
  • The priority for selecting land for public low cost housing and elderly accommodation in Hong Kong should be based on a hierarchy of categories of land in which Country Parks and Special Areas designated under the Country Parks Ordinance should only be the option of last resort. The following paragraphs set out the hierarchy in descending order of priority.
    1. New Development Areas, New Town Extension Projects and Comprehensive Development Areas The 2017 Policy Address paras 117 and 121 state that the priority is to develop areas concentrated with brownfield sites. The developments in Hung Shui Kiu, Yuen Long South and Kwu Tung North/Fanling NDA’s currently underway cover 380 hectares of brownfield sites.  We support this as a part of the strategy.
    2. Brownfield The area of brownfield sites has been estimated to be more than 1,000 hectares by a civil society team.  The results of Planning Department’s 2017 Brownfield Site Survey should be made available to the public and assist in the release of brownfield land for low-cost housing and elderly accommodation as a priority. While there is no official definition of brownfield site, however, in order of degradation/ownership we suggest it includes the following categories, which could overlap: –
      • Quasi-industrial land, open storage, and unauthorised existing uses, also on urban fringes. Most of the land is highly degraded, and mostly private land.
      • Govt Land and Private Land such as empty schools and potential podiums above infrastructure, utilities, highways, railways, and roadside areas.
      • Degraded or idle Government Land, such as worksites, old schools, temporary carparks and others.
    3. Only when the above categories have been considered and exhausted should the following categories be considered, in descending order of priority.
      • Degraded farmland of low ecological value and with poor potential for restoration to productive agriculture. About 850 hectares exist for assessment. Some 850 hectares of such farmland is located in the proximity of roads or railways and/or on the periphery of existing towns and so have potential for housing development at relatively lower costs and in shorter time-scale.
      • Unprotected Countryside, mostly Govt Land, a high percentage of Hong Kong.
      • Active or good quality Farmland.
      • Conservation zonings of various types including GB, CA, SSSI; Priority Sites under the 2004 New Nature Conservation Policy and CP Enclaves; Reservoirs and catchments and Country Parks and Special Areas.
  • Whenever land with recreation, ecological or heritage values are considered for housing development due process should be followed in assessing the impacts and corresponding compensation measures. Recognizing the public’s growing concern and effectiveness in blocking or delaying development projects in areas of high recreation, ecological and heritage values, all assessments should follow global best practice and principles including the following:
    1. Ratcliffe Criteria, 1977, originally for SSSI and partly used in EIAO TM, as refined for Hong Kong by Barretto and Kendrick 2007. (summary extract below)
    2. EIAO TM Criteria at Annex 8 Criteria for Evaluating Ecological Impact, Annex 16 Guidelines for Ecological Assessment, which requires Avoidance, Minimizing and Compensation for impacts.
    3. Principles applicable to Hong Kong, as confirmed in relevant court cases, include inter alia “holistic conservation” which requires protecting a watershed or landscape as a whole and cumulative impact assessment. Such criteria assist in replacing vague terms like “relatively low ecological and public enjoyment value” in Policy Address para 117.
    4. Compensation, with No net loss of Country Park or ecological function. For every piecemeal loss caused by each specific development project, especially at the periphery of CP and other ecologically significant areas, there must be immediate and correspondingly compensation, enhancement and restoration.  Compensation for loss at the periphery of CP is part of the Government Policy Address 2017 para 117.  Compensation should be made for losses of ecologically and recreationally valuable countryside outside CP also because loss of buffer (especially Green Belt) can cause major ecological damage in the long term.
    5. Public Enjoyment of Country Parks is the paramount reason against CP delivers Quality of Life through the provision of essential recreation for Hong Kong’s hard-working population, such as relaxation, hiking, picnic, physical exercise, enjoying the natural scenery and fresh air, nature photography, observations of trees, birds and wildlife, , see BSAP 2016 generally.  These benefits and values are enjoyed by at least 11.4 million visitors a year (AFCD figures for Country Parks 2014), and innumerable morning exercise practitioners all over Hong Kong.  Studies show our aging population increasingly rely on good environment for maintaining their quality of life.
    6. Other ecosystem services from the Countryside to be valued include inter alia:
      1. Water Resources (particularly water catchment areas),
      2. Reducing urban heat island effects,
  • Health protection and Traditional Chinese Medicine sources,

(See BSAP 2016 pages 4-7 and BSAP Action 17 Identify Ecosystem services.)

  • The Countryside now at risk is about half of the Hong Kong 80% of Hong Kong used to be green or Countryside.  Half of this is protected as CP (40% of HK land area), but the other half of the Countryside is NOT.  The Unprotected Countryside which is now being lost every day by piecemeal developments and abusive uses.  Thus the 80% green is declining to between 75-80%.  The actual losses of Countryside, being planned or on-going, must be assessed and the public informed.
  • Taking a National perspective Hong Kong’s protected areas network (PAN) is a de facto National Park in southern China. It represents a significant contribution to the fulfilment of the Central Government’s Plan for the Development of the Bay Area of the Pearl River Estuary (Plan) as a “green and healthy living environment”.  Having building developments in such areas would undermine the capacity of our PAN to fulfil this function.  Hong Kong must not appear to be reaping the benefits of the Plan, while at the same time undermining its intentions.

CONCLUSIONS

  • HKCF proposes that Government can achieve the Policy Objective to find land for public low-cost housing and elderly accommodation by following existing policies, best practice and principled governance and adhering to processes which are transparent, professional, statutory, fair and therefore welcomed by the public, so as to achieve sustainable use of natural resources, in particular our precious Countryside.
  • The approach to selecting land for such purposes in Hong Kong should be based on a hierarchy of categories in which Country Parks and Special Areas designated under the Country Parks Ordinance should be the option of last resort. HKCF proposes this approach to be adopted in Hong Kong for selecting land for development in future.  This would mainstream sustainability and conservation principles into planning and land use (which is a key part of the BSAP policy, Action 9).  Good governance based on these policy solutions helps value and protect our countryside, with sensible choices for the future based on sound principles.

The Hong Kong Countryside Foundation

1 August 2017

 


Abbreviations

BSAP               Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, December 2016

CA                   Conservation Area

CP                    Country Park and Special Area

EIAO TM         ,Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance Technical Memorandum

GB                   Green Belt

SSSI                 Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Notes

The parts of the Ratcliffe Criteria (1977) essential to considering encroachments into Country Parks include the loss of buffer functions, the green corridor or ecological function and connectivity values of any periphery being considered for housing.  Fragmentation impact will be accelerated. Landscapes are easily lost.  All the criteria are relevant and were updated for use in Hong Kong, and extracted from Barretto and Kendrick 2007, Proceedings of the First South East Asian Lepidoptera Symposium 2006, page 93, as follows:

  1. Size
  2. Diversity, including wildlife Abundance/richness, species Assemblages, regional Comparison
  3. Rarity, including Uniqueness and endemicity
  4. Recorded history, including Age and Recreatability
  5. Fragility, including Recreatability, Nursery/Breeding ground
  6. Typicalness
  7. Naturalness
  8. Position in Ecological Unit, including Fragmentation and Ecological Linkage, (See BSAP Action 4 Maintain habitat connectivity for wildlife).
  9. Intrinsic Appeal, including Natural Landscape Beauty
  10. Potential value

 

1 Aug 2017
The Foundation submitted to the Chief Executive, the Chief Secretary for Administration, Financial Secretary, the Secretary for Development, the Secretary for Transport & Housing and the Secretary for Environment, its position paper on country parks in the context of land search for public housing and elderly accommodation.

(Full paper available for download: 20170801 HKCF’s Position Paper on Country Parks )

2017年8月1日
基金就有關找尋土地供廉租公營房屋及非牟利老人院等用途的政策目標,向特首、政務司司長、財政司、發展局局長、運輸及房屋局局長及環境局局長遞交一份立場書。

(全文只有英文版本,見上連結附件)

27 Jul 2017                                                              Two agriculture experts, Dr Anthony Tse and Mr Yip Tsz Lam, paid a technical visit to Lai Chi Wo, to appreciate the ongoing agricultural effort.  They also offered advice on farming practice and related infrastructure issues.

(From left to right) Dr. Anthony Tse, HKCF Chairman Lam Chiu Ying & Director Ng Cho Nam and Mr. Yip Tsz Lam.                   (左至右)謝天佑博士、鄉郊基金主席林超英先生、董事吳祖南博士,及葉子林先生。
2017年7月27日                                                        謝天佑博士及葉子林先生兩位農業專家,到荔枝窩展開了技術訪問,了解進行中的農業活動,以及為荔枝窩的農耕工作和相關配套提供了寶貴意見。

29 Apr 2017
Transplanting of paddy seedlings took place in Lai Chi Wo.

Volunteers getting first-hand experience in seedling transplant with bare feet.                 義工們親身體驗赤足蒔田。
2017年4月29日                                                         荔枝窩進行插秧。

4 Feb 2017
HKCF board members and staff joined the spring banquet of Hing Chun Yeuk at Lai Chi Wo to celebrate Chinese New Year.

HKCF board directors, village representatives of Lai Chi Wo and senior villagers of Hing Chun Yeuk in front of the temple.                                                                    鄉郊基金董事會成員、荔枝窩村長與慶春約耆英在協天宮前合照。
2017年2月4日
鄉郊基金同人出席慶春約在荔枝窩舉辦的春茗,共慶新春。