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aec Aids in BEAM Assessment
In recent months, aec has been busy providing ecological input for a number of BEAM (Building Environmental Assessment Method) assessments in Hong Kong. Clients taking advantage of aec's expertise include SWIRE Properties, New Town Project Management Ltd. (a subsidiary of New World Development Co. Ltd.), HK Electric and Hong Kong Academy Educational Foundation Ltd, whose projects centre on redevelopments in Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, New Territories and the Island District.

A key aim of the BEAM certification programme is to enhance the environmental performance and sustainability of buildings and developments throughout their life-cycle. The certification requirements comprise a set of performance standards that properties must meet or exceed in order to maintain BEAM certification.

A BEAM assessment is comparable to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in that it considers multiple aspects of a project during the assessment, such as landscape, cultural heritage and ecology. In terms of ecology, BEAM encourages the protection of natural habitats in order to maintain or increase local biodiversity. If an area of particular ecological value is identified on site, BEAM encourages the formulation of management strategies to protect such areas during redevelopment and beyond. On site, aec aims to maintain, as a minimum, the current ecological values, even during redevelopment projects.

Demand for Professional Arborists on the Rise in Hong Kong
aec's growth in the provision of arborist services continues with our appointment to provide professional arboricultural services for MTRC, the Lands Department and a well-known religious centre in the New Territories. The services provided comprise tree management, monitoring and inspection.

Arboricultural and ecological services for South Island Line (East), MTR Corporation Ltd.
The South Island Line (East) (SIL(E)) is a planned 7km railway that will connect the existing railway network at Admiralty to the Southern District. In addition to providing ecological support for this project, aec has been contracted to provide professional arboricultural services and advice on monitoring and auditing all tree protection works for the duration of the project. With our wide range of arboricultural, botanical and ecological experience and skills, and understanding of the local environment, aec will ensure a synergy between the protection of trees and wildlife and the development of convenient rail transport.

Arboricultural services for four District Lands Offices in the New Territories
The HKSAR Government is striving to strike a balance between proper tree management and public safety in the wake of a number of tree-related incidents of concern in recent years. As part of this process, aec has been appointed to provide professional arboricultural services in handling tree-related issues for three District Lands Offices in the New Territories, including the provision of timely tree inspection and risk assessment in response to tree-related complaints. Asia Ecological will also provide advice on suitable tree surgery to reduce any hazards to the public.

Tree assessment for transplant at religious centre in the New Territories
Tree transplantation is a skilled arboricultural practice often carried out in response to construction works. To retain the cultural and aesthetic value of trees within the grounds of a well-known religious centre, including a large Chinese Banyan tree, aec was appointed to undertake assessments of all trees to be transplanted and provide method statements and on-site supervision of the appointed landscape contractor for the entire transplant process. With involvement of our Certified Arborists at the early project design stage, an optimal and practical transplantation methodology was worked out with the construction team and landscape contractor. As a result, the mature Chinese Banyan was transplanted successfully to the receptor site.

Nam Sang Wai Ecological Impact Assessment to be conducted by aec
aec has been appointed to undertake the Ecological Impact Assessment (EcolIA) for a proposed Integrated Conservation and Development Project at Nam Sang Wai. As all previous applications at the site were reviewed by the Town Planning Board, this is the first EcolIA study for the project. The EcolIA, which began in January 2011, will include a 12-month survey to provide an up-to-date ecological project baseline. Detailed habitat mapping is required, including dedicated aerial surveys, which aec staff directed from inside a helicopter!

The 97 hectare Nam Sang Wai site lies on the edge of the Deep Bay wetland system and comprises mainly inactive commercial fishponds. It is of notable ecological value and, in particular, a large Great Cormorant roost is present during the winter months in the area, which is also used by many other wetland dependent birds. Previous development proposals have attracted considerable attention from NGOs and the public, and it is expected that Nam Sang Wai will continue to remain a focus of such attention.

The results of ecological surveys will be used to determine 'no-go' areas on the site in order to minimise the potential impacts of any proposed development, with other areas to be managed for wildlife.

The study will also look into the longer term management of Lut Chau, a 55 hectare area of commercial fishponds and mangroves immediately south of Mai Po Nature Reserve. The study will examine the potential to enhance the ecological value of Lut Chau to mitigate for impacts arising from the loss of habitats at Nam Sang Wai.

aec has worked on similarly complex and high-profile studies in the past. That experience, coupled with our understanding of the planning and EIA processes and expertise in the field, will be essential to ensure that development can occur in tandem with the conservation management of important habitats and species.

aec Supports Hong Kong's Pond Fisheries Culture with FIAs
Commercial fisheries have long thrived in Hong Kong, with the most popular pond fisheries sites located in the northwest New Territories. Although yields have fluctuated over the years, mainly due to competition from China and variations in market prices, the area still produces over 2,000 tonnes of fish annually, worth over HK$50 million.

When development projects in the northwest New Territories are in the works, it is common for a Fisheries Impact Assessment (FIA) to form part of the Study Brief for EIAs, Planning Applications and Feasibility Studies.

aec has extensive experience in conducting FIAs, stemming from our work on high-profile strategic development projects including studies for the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line, North East New Territories Development Area Planning and Engineering Study and the development of Lok Ma Chau Loop. aec has also undertaken FIAs as part of submissions to Government for a number of private sector residential developments.

aec's work as part of an FIA typically includes field surveys, interviews with farmers, an assessment of potential impacts and where necessary, the proposal of proper mitigation measures.

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