1 Introduction


1.1.1    In October 2001, Urbis Limited was commissioned by Planning Department to conduct the Landscape Value Mapping of Hong Kong. Urbis is supported by ERM Hong Kong Limited, Stephen Brown Landscape Architecture and EcoSchemes Asia Limited.

           Background to the Study

1.1.2    Landscape is a vital part of our environment and is one of the most important components of our quality of life. In the broadest sense, it commonly refers to the appearance of the land cover, but also includes such components as its shapes, textures and colours, and reflects the way in which these various components combine to create specific patterns and pictures that are distinctive to particular localities. It encompasses the whole of the natural and man-made environment, urban and rural. The patterns and textures of buildings, streets, open spaces and trees, and their interrelationships within the built environment are each important parts of our wider landscape heritage.

1.1.3    Hong Kong has extensive undeveloped tracts of natural landscapes with different landscape character. Some of these areas contain a diverse habitat supporting numerous native plant species and a varied wildlife, both resident and migratory. In addition, there is a long history of human settlement and a variety of cultural relics associated with the settlement.

1.1.4    In many countries, especially in Europe, comprehensive landscape assessments often form part of the land use planning process. In the United Kingdom, for example, landscape character maps have been prepared at national, regional, country and local levels. In Hong Kong, no comprehensive landscape assessment for the whole territory has ever been undertaken.

1.1.5    The Metroplan Landscape Strategy for the Urban Fringe and Coastal Areas, which was published in 1989, was an early attempt to look into the landscape character of the Metropolitan urban fringe and coastal areas, and provide a framework for its conservation and enhancement. With the rapid pace of development in Hong Kong, the strategy needs to be reviewed and updated.

1.1.6    Area specific and project based landscape assessments have also, from time to time, been undertaken, mainly in connection with individual studies (such as the sub-regional planning studies) or projects (such as the landscape and visual impact assessments submitted under the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance (EIAO)). While those assessments can provide useful background information, they are generally conducted for a specific purpose and at a local scale and thus, not territory-wide comprehensive in nature.

           Need for the study

1.1.7    With an increasing emphasis on sustainable development, there is a need to integrate consideration of economic, social and environmental issues into the planning and development process. To assist such process, the Study on Sustainable Development for the 21st Century (SUSDEV21) has developed indicators for measurement of the development impact of projects.

1.1.8    In the absence of comprehensive information on the existing conditions of landscape resources in Hong Kong, the SUSDEV21 study has not yet established an indicator against which the landscape baseline conditions can be monitored. This Study is carried out to fill this information gap.

           Study Objectives

1.1.9    The main Study objective is to establish the essential landscape baseline information that will provide a systematic reference framework to facilitate landscape assessment and broad environmental assessment of major projects at a territorial level.

1.1.10  More specifically, the Study objectives are:

  1. Fill the gap of the existing information and aggregate all available information for a better understanding of the landscape resources in Hong Kong, both in terms of quality and quantity;
  2. Establish the baseline conditions of the existing landscape resources, both in the urban and rural areas, as a benchmark against which future changes can be assessed;
  3. Establish a systematic classification system of landscape resources and identify specific landscape character types and areas for production of a landscape character map;
  4. Establish consistent evaluative criteria which will allow measurement and evaluation of the sensitivity and importance of landscape character types and areas; and
  5. Recommend a suitable indicator for broad landscape impact assessment of major development projects which can be incorporated in the sustainability evaluation process.

           Study Area

1.1.11  The Study area covers the urban and rural landscape of the whole territory.

           Study Programme

1.1.12  The Study commenced in October 2001 and will take 18 months to complete, excluding the time required for the two stages of public consultation. A draft Study Programme has been submitted to Planning Department, and comments received. A revised programme incorporating the comments is attached in Appendix I. The agreed programme will form the baseline for the development of the Study and will be refined and updated as necessary during the course of the Study.


1.2.1    The purpose of the Inception Report is to set out in detail an appreciation of the requirements of the Study Brief, and to present the findings of Task 1 - Background Review and Study Appraisal. This includes a review of relevant local and overseas studies and experience, presentation of the proposed study methodology, an appreciation of the objectives of the Study, the approach for undertaking each task, the initial identification of key issues, the Study programme and the Study management and staffing structure.

Structure of the Inception Report

1.2.2    Section 2 presents the appreciation of the requirements of the Study Brief, including the understanding of the Study objectives, key issues, Study constraints and innovative ideas.

1.2.3    Section 3 presents the Study methodology.

1.2.4    Section 4 presents the Study management and staffing structure.

1.2.5    Section 5 presents the findings of the review of local experience.

1.2.6    Section 6 presents the findings of the review of overseas experience.

1.2.7    Section 7 presents the way forward.

1.2.8    Appendix I contains the Study Programme.

1.2.9    Appendix II contains 10 figures supplementing the appreciation of the Study requirements discussed in section 2.


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