Butterfly finds confuse home plan

Local | Michelle Li Jul 14, 2017
A green group has uncovered 71 species of butterfly on the periphery of Tai Lam Country Park - an area the Housing Society has been eyeing for public housing.

The society has started an 18-month feasibility study on building houses on the outskirts of Tai Lam and Ma On Shan country parks, with a total area of 40 hectares.

The move alarmed the group Green Power, which is worried the society would play down the sites' ecological value to push through the housing plan.

The group decided to conduct its first butterfly survey on the outskirts of Tai Tam from April to May this year.

Along the 10-kilometer survey route, butterfly surveyors from Shell Nature Watch's Butterfly Explorer project identified about a third of 260 butterfly species found in Hong Kong, including several rare ones.

The area was discovered to be home to two extremely rare species - the amber Potanthus pava and the glossy, silver-hued Celastrina lavendularis.

Five other rare species were also found. There was an unusual abundance of the "Magpie Flat" Abraximorpha davidii species, known for its "magpie" characteristics and blue-black iridescent wings.

The other four were sun-loving Potanthus trachala, Tajuria cippus or the famous "peacock royal," the strangely patterned Sinthusa chandrana and the snow-white Pieris rapae.

The discoveries contradict authorities' belief that the area has low ecological value, Green Power said.

"We believe they will conduct another study into the area, except with a pre-supposed agenda," said Matthew Sin Kar-wah, senior environmental affairs manager of Green Power. "It happened before in Hong Kong: many areas had understated or underestimated ecological values."

The 34 butterfly surveyors from Green Power will continue their investigations this year as part of their research on the ecological value of Tai Lam Country Park. The group also monitors butterflies in 10 other locations.

Former chief executive Leung Chun-ying raised the idea of building public housing and elderly homes on the outskirts of country parks.

The Housing Society study aims to explore the feasibility of allocating land on the periphery of country parks "with relatively low ecological and public enjoyment value" for such purposes.

The Housing Society said last night it will commission professional consultants for the study, and the selection procedure will begin soon.

It is estimated that the study will take about 12 to 18 months. "With regard to the report of the green group released today, we will also advise the appointed consultants to take reference of the findings," it said.

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April 2018