Country Park Enclave Area
What is “Country Park enclave”?
There are principles and criteria endorsed by the Planning and Management Committee under the Country Parks Board, in 1989, for designating a suitable site as a Country Park. Under established criteria and prevailing policy, Government land is preferred when a Country Park is to be designated. For private lots within village environs, the landowners will generally object to the designation of such areas as Country Parks due to concern for their traditional rights. As a result, most private landholdings together with some adjacent pieces of Government Land were usually excluded from the Country Park boundaries, as a general rule in the past, These areas of excluded land are called Country Park enclaves.
About 77 Country Park enclaves (shown in this document) with a total area of 2,076 hectares in our countryside were excluded from the designated Country Park boundaries. Furthermore, there are some pockets of private land within designated Country Park areas because no objections were raised by the land owners during the original designation process. About 460 hectares of these private landholdings were included into various Country Park areas.
Development pressure continues to expand in the lowlands and rural areas of Hong Kong due to rapid urbanization, limited land supply and population expansion. Natural habitats and landscapes in many enclaves and pocket areas have been subjected to various degrees of damage. Some important natural habitats, such as those in So Lo Pun, Hoi Ha and Tai Long Sai Wan, are under threat and have experienced varying degrees of ecological destruction.
Over the past few years, EAP has been putting much effort into the issue of protection of the Country Park enclaves, which have been under threat from incremental or haphazard development. These enclaves contain ecologically important habitats and are often hotspots of biodiversity, such as Yung Shue O, Cheung Sheung, Tai Ho, Mau Ping, Hoi Ha, Pak Lap and So Lo Pun. We submit detailed technical information and comments to the Town Planning Board and attend its hearings, variously expressing support, raising concerns and making suggestions with the aim of better protecting the habitats and species of conservation importance found in these pristine natural areas. We also conduct field trips and biodiversity surveys to provide detailed and up-to-date ecological information to help the relevant authorities to make the right decisions on the land-use planning and zoning for these areas.
Recently, our ecological data for the Mau Ping enclave was submitted to the Planning Department, and upon receiving this information, the Planning Department pro-actively recommended an upgrade of the previously proposed “Green Belt” zone in the draft Outline Zoning Plan to “Conservation Area”, giving the natural habitats of the Mau Ping enclave a better category of protective status.
Camellia crapnelliana growing in profusion in the woodlands of Mau Ping enclave
The changes in the Mau Ping Outline Zoning Plan before (left) and after (right) the submission of our ecological data to the Planning Department which then zoned all the land as a Conservation Area (except for the derelict village houses)