In late 2010, Green Power, Friends of Sai Kung and the Eco-Education and Resources Centre launched surveys at 28 enclaves in Sai Kung that are not included in country parks, to assess their ecological value and discover possible threats from development. After previously exposing a luxury housing plan at Wong Chuk Yeung wetland, we recently discovered large-scale tree felling at the site.
Wong Chuk Yeung is at Shap Sze Heung and is enclosed by Ma On Shan Country Park. Most of the land is privately owned and not included in the country park area. Wong Chuk Yeung is home to a large wetland and the fourth largest fung shui wood in Hong Kong. There are as many as 222 plant species, at least 10 of which are rare or very rare. It is also a habitat of the only deer species - Barking Deer (Muntiacus muntjak) - in Hong Kong. In our ecological surveys, we recorded 47 bird species (including the rare Speckled Piculet (Picumnus innominatus), 78 butterfly species (including the legally protected Common Birdwing (Troides Helena) and Golden Birdwing (Troides aeacus)), 28 dragonfly species and 10 species of amphibians and reptiles.
While recently conducting ecological surveys at Wong Chuk Yeung, we found large scale tree felling at the site. At least six workers were trying to cut trees with electric saws and hand saws. A few hundred trees had been cut; most were the legally protected Incense Trees (Aquilaria sinensis), affecting an area of some 1,000 square feet. We also spotted marks on other trees and estimated that tree felling had been occurring for some time.
The incident clearly indicates the developmental threat to enclaves outside country park areas. We are concerned that this is an attempt to "destroy first, develop later" the ecologically valuable land at Wong Chuk Yeung. When the area loses its ecological value, a change of landuse planning application could be passed more easily. We have notified the media and the government regarding the incident, and urged the government to follow up as well as include private land surrounded by country park as country park areas, to protect the ecology and rare species of Wong Chuk Yeung.