英文

Editorial:South Lantau Eco-Tourism: Don't Go Overboard

【明報專訊】THE DEVELOPMENT BUREAU has proposed to develop a ''South Lantau Eco-Recreation Corridor'', hoping to boost the local economy via leisure tourism while also promoting conservation, but some concern groups worry that the project will damage the environment. South Lantau, with its beautiful landscape as well as rich and diverse ecology, has the qualities for developing eco-tourism. However, its capacity must be considered. Over-development or an excessive inflow of people can have a negative impact on the local natural environment and residents' lives. The authorities must have a comprehensive strategy for environmental protection and management measures. The development project should also be carried out cautiously, taking into full consideration the ecological outlook and refraining from needless extravagant constructions.

In 2017, the government announced the ''Sustainable Lantau Blueprint''. According to the proposition of ''Development in the North, Conservation for the South'', the government published the ''Lantau Conservation and Recreation Masterplan'' in 2020. It identified some potential directions for eco-tourism based on the unique characteristics of ecological and cultural resources in South Lantau. That is where the idea of a ''South Lantau Eco-Recreation Corridor'' (from hereon referred to as ''the Corridor'') originated from.

This week, the Development Bureau submitted a paper to the Legislative Council outlining its recommendations for the Corridor. The Corridor will mainly cover four areas in South Lantau, namely Cheung Sha, Shui Hau, Shek Pik and Pui O. The authorities suggested turning Cheung Sha into a ''recreation hub'', where water sports facilities, rope adventure sites at the hillside, quality holiday accommodations and uphill chairlifts will be built. They also proposed building an education centre in Shui Hau, where the ecology of the sandflat and horseshoe crabs, which are of conservation value, and traditional village culture and customs can be introduced to visitors. The Bureau revealed that some private organisations and investors are primarily interested in participating in some of the projects, while it expressed that the introduction of market creativity and resources can reduce the cost burden on the government.

Conservation does not mean zero development. If eco-tourism development can be combined with well-thought-out conservation efforts, they can complement each other. The key is to adhere to the principle of ''sustainability'', rather than killing the goose that lays the golden egg. The term ''eco-tourism'' literally puts ''ecology'' before ''tourism''. Ecological value must be maintained first to then have value in tourism. The specific development plans must prioritize ecological conservation over economic interests.

The core of developing eco-tourism is regulation and management, which balances between human activities and the needs of the ecological environment. In the Corridor, Shui Hau is the region with the richest ecological resources. However, environmental groups have pointed out that the influx of visitors and situations like excessive clam digging will have a considerable impact on the local ecology. If the government is to promote eco-tourism in Shui Hau, the first and foremost task is to enhance conservation. For example, the major habitat of horseshoe crabs and migratory birds can be listed as a ''core conservation area'' to bar visitors from entering. Under appropriate management, the remaining areas can be opened to visitors with a suitable limit on visitor numbers. At the same time, clam digging by visitors should also be regulated reasonably to guarantee that the horseshoe crabs would not be disturbed by visitors' activities during their breeding season.

Eco-tourism cannot accommodate large amounts of visitors. The authorities have the responsibility to make sure that the development of the Corridor is sustainable and will not cause significant stress to the residents and ecology of South Lantau.

明報社評 2024.05.29:南大嶼發展生態旅遊 保育為本防過度開發

發展局建議發展「南大嶼生態康樂走廊」,盼以休閒特色旅遊促進地區經濟,同時推動保育,有關注團體憂慮會破壞環境。嶼南風光明媚,自然生態多樣豐富,有條件發展生態旅遊,但必須顧及承受力,過度開發、人流太多,都有可能對當地自然環境及居民生活造成影響,當局需要有周全的環境保護策略及管理措施,項目發展也要審慎而為,顧全自然生態面貌,不搞無謂鋪張建設。

2017年,政府公布「可持續大嶼藍圖」,根據「北發展、南保育」的定位,於2020年公布《大嶼山保育及康樂總綱圖》,針對嶼南生態文化資源特色,歸納出一些潛在生態旅遊方向,「南大嶼生態康樂走廊」(下稱「走廊」)概念亦由此而來。

發展局本周向立法會提交文件,簡介「走廊」研究建議。「走廊」主要涵蓋嶼南長沙、水口、石壁和貝澳,當局建議將長沙建設成為「康樂樞紐」,增設水上活動及山林繩索歷奇設施、優質度假住宿、登山吊椅等。政府又建議在水口增設教育中心,向遊客介紹具保育價值的沙坪和馬蹄蟹等,以及傳統鄉村文化習俗。局方表示,初步有私人機構和投資者有興趣參與部分項目,認為可以引入市場創意和資源,減少政府開支負擔。

保育不等於完全不發展,發展生態旅遊,若能結合周全的保育工作,可以相輔相成,關鍵是要貫徹「可持續」原則,不能竭澤而漁。「生態旅遊」一詞開宗明義,「生態」先於「旅遊」,維護好生態價值,才有旅遊價值,具體發展規劃須以生態保育而非經濟利益為優先。

發展生態旅遊,核心在於規範管理,平衡人類活動與生態環境需要。水口是「走廊」生態資源最豐富的地區,然而環保團體指出,遊人紛至、過度「掘蜆」等情况,對當地生態造成相當大的影響。政府若要在當地推動生態旅遊,首務是加強保育,例如將馬蹄蟹及候鳥集中的位置列為「核心保育區」,禁止遊人進入,其餘範圍則可以在有管理下開放,適度限制人流,同時亦應合理規範遊人掘蜆行為,以及確保馬蹄蟹繁殖期不受遊人活動滋擾。

生態旅遊難以接待大量遊人,當局有責任確保「走廊」發展可持續,不會對嶼南居民和自然生態構成顯著壓力。

■/ Glossary 生字 /

go overboard:to do sth too much, or to be too excited or eager about sth

extravagant:​spending a lot more money or using a lot more of sth than you can afford or than is necessary

bar:to ban or prevent sb from doing sth

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