Yi O on Lantau Island is the only way for people going from Shek Pik, Fan Lau and Yi O to Tai O.
There is a large piece of mangrove wetland and a natural stream with a rich ecology along its coast. In recent months, there were sightings of cultivation on the hills nearby. After enquiry, we learnt that Yi O’s residents have leased their land to organizations for revitalizing of farmland.
We understand that the land belongs to the Yi O residents.
The revitalizing activities have nothing to be criticized. But there is a need to strike a balance between preserving the mangrove’s ecological environment along the coast and the interests of the residents. Besides, the increased human activities may affect this ecological environment already formed. We, therefore, hope that the mangrove wetland along the coast and the main stream will be designated as conservation area . We also hope that at the same time the relevant residents and organizations can carry out cultivation in the former farmland. This should be a win-win option.
Please offer your views on the Yi O Development Permission Area Plan:
To: The Chairman and Members of the Town Planning Board
The Yi O Development Permission Area Plan (DPA/I-YO/1)
Our members went to the coast in Yi O, Lantau with a few environmental groups to examine the mangrove trees along the coast and the area nearby the entrance to Yi O Kau Tsuen on 5 October 2012. We saw two earth moving machines and numerous trees were cut down. Signs of mangrove trees and wetland plants having been cut down were also found on the ground and mud banks. We lodged a written complaint to the Lands Department, Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, etc. Later, we realized that it was due to works on the proposed revitalization of dormant farmland undertaken by some Yi O villagers and a business group. The activity we noted was related to the initial stage of formation on the land covered in that project. In principle our association does not object to the indigenous residents’ plan of revitalizing the former farmland. However, the land concerned is situated at an ecologically sensitive area with mangrove trees, wetland, swamps and a few streams nearby. We note that the location in question was where there is a Black Mangrove area which is currently the largest in existence on Lantau Island. The area was also the habitat of many birds and animals which belong to the orderLepidoptera. The internationally renowned mangrove specialist, Gordon Maxwell, had been invited by our executive members to the above location to conduct a study on the mangrove. In his opinion the mangrove trees therein are invaluable and should be protected and valued.
Our association notes that the Town Planning Board (TPB) is working on the Yi O Development Permission Area (DPA) Plan. We are of the view that the bay area of the mangrove land should also be designated as a conservation area because along Yi O Kau Tsuen there is a stream running towards the bay and where the sea meets the stream has given rise to the mangrove ecology. In case there are human activities in the land nearby the bay (e.g. cultivation, building houses, etc.), the entire wetland ecology for the mangrove in Yi O will definitely be affected and any talk of conservation in the planning exercise will then be meaningless. We do not object to the Yi O residents’ revitalizing of the original farmland inside Yi O Kau Tsuen and residing there but we hope that the land nearby the bay coast can be made into a buffer zone. This will be a win-win option that can strike a balance between ecological preservation and the interests of the residents.
Therefore, we hope that TPB can finalize the Yi O DPA plan as soon as possible to prevent the neighbouring ecological buffer zone from being affected. We also hope that you can consider our suggestions in the planning exercise for the interests of Hong Kong’s ecological environment.
Ho Pui Han
Chairperson and Executive Member of
Association for Tai O Environment and Development (ATOED)