Twelve types of birds are making their homes in a Long Valley natural park.
The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said yesterday 12 types of birds have been found breeding in Long Valley between April and June, and these included black-winged stilts, in a first for the location.
The park will be completed by 2023 in Long Valley, Hong Kong's largest freshwater wetland, located between the Sheung Yue River and the Shek Sheung River in Sheung Shui.
Work on the park started two years ago, with the aim of increasing the wetland area by eight hectares.
Five hectares have been restored so far, with the remaining to be completed over the next two years, the Civil Engineering and Development Department said.
Also breeding in Long Valley were greater painted-snipes, white-breasted water hens and common moorhens.
The department said the government is requiring contractors to use smaller machinery to avoid affecting the habitat as they restore the land, which was the biggest challenge the project faced.
"The use of machinery to restore the wetlands is inevitable, but it does not mean it will destroy the environment," said the department.
"Using smaller machinery will also restore the wetlands without affecting the existing habitat."
In response, the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society said seeing 12 types of birds breeding is normal, and they only showed that the construction has not damaged the habitat in Long Valley.
The society's senior project manager, Vicky Yeung Lee-ki, told The Standard: "It is true that black-winged stilts used to come to Long Valley for food, but not breeding. Therefore we can say the habitat is more suitable for them to breed as compared to the past. But we do not have the statistical analysis to correlate whether their decision to breed in Long Valley is due to the construction."
Yeung said the government has been accepting the society's ideas, but there is still room for improvement. "I would say the government can be more transparent, as progress on the construction has been kept under wraps," Yeung said.
"The government should also release details to concern groups regarding the long-term management of the nature park, as it is also a crucial factor to its sustainability."
The natural habitat park aims to provide a green area in the Kwu Tung North and Fan Ling North new town development, the government said earlier.
The 37-hectare park will be developed into three zones. About 21 hectares will become a biodiversity zone, 11 hectares will be turned into an ecoagriculture zone and about five hectares will be turned into a visitor zone.