Pat Sin Leng and Plover Cove Country Parks’ omitted areas

Sha Lo Tung

Sha Lo Tung valley from Cloudy Hill, looking east towards Pat Sin Leng. Of all the high ground in the photo, only the valley is excluded from the Country Park

As recently as the mid-90s, the Sha Lo Tung valley was a wetland paradise with streams teaming with native fish, tadpoles, endemic dragonflies, reptiles, birds and mammals. Visiting the valley after dark was ear-shattering with calls from the amphibians, insects and birds.

This stream flows from Cheung Uk to Hok Tau reservoir

Cheung Uk is the larger of the two small hamlets in the valley. One of the village elders still lived alone here until the late 90s, supplementing his existence by selling cold beers from his fridge to grateful hikers. Unfortunately, the paintballers and BB-gunners took over the village and terrorised him out. The HK police took no action.

The doors of the temple and hall are still decorated by returning descendants at Chinese New Year

Even with almost nobody around, the temple lights are always on

Desk jockeys from Monday to Friday, weekend warriors when their over-protective mums let them out to play. These bully boys took over the beerman\’s home and fired plastic BB pellets at hikers. There are moments when packing a Magnum would be a public service.

Lei Uk on the opposite side of the valley. The ground in front of the village has been drained, filled and the vegetation burned off.

Earth moving equipment was brought in by 4WDrivers so that they could get their tyres dirty without getting stuck.

Nam Chung

The path out of Pat Sin Leng into the Nam Chung valley offers some fantastic scenery and views towards Shau Tau Kok

Places like this should make Hong Kong a premier destination for eco-travellers. There is so much more to this area than shopping malls.

The Japanese pillbox is situated on the hill between Luk Keng and Nam Chung, facing the border area

In the right light, at the right time of year the old terraces can be made out following the contours

The view across the fishponds towards Nam Chung

The view north from Pat Sin Leng across the Nam Chung fishponds on the left, the Luk Keng marsh on the right towards the Chinese city of Sha Tau Kok. The high ground separating Nam Chung and Luk Keng is part of the country park.

Luk Keng

View across the terraces towards the village below

The lowlying Luk Keng marsh was omitted from the Country Park. All the high ground in the photo is within Pat Sin Leng (foreground) or Plover Cove (background).

The hamlet of Luk Keng cradled in perfect fung shui harmony at the break of slope with a fung shui woodland. The white mark above the village (the point of taking the photo) was a fresh landslip. From the scorch marks on the slope, the loss of vegetative cover due to fire led to erosion and then the slip.

The shrine at the end of the village is \’protected\’ by a couple of cannons

Kuk Po

Kuk Po marsh, with Screwpine Pandanus tectorius at the water\’s edge

Kuk Po Lo Wu in classic fung shui repose. The mountain behind is within Plover Cove Country Park, the wetland in front is unprotected habitat.

All along the watchtower, as someone once wrote

Most of the villages in the areas omitted were occupied at the time of the foundation of the Country Parks. Most now are inhabited only by some lonely old folk and the occasional illegal immigrant.

Descendants return to the villages at festivals, particularly when there\’s some bone polishing required. Unfortunately, visiting the ancestors\’ graves normally requires the uncontrolled burning of Hell Money. The glowing embers of the hell money float off into the tinder dry hill grass and can cause extensive hill fires.

The fung shui woodland behind the village including the hugely useful bamboo grove

Ginger lily still thriving in the absence of villagers

Abandoned roof tiles neatly piled in a coil.

Three kisses of death for country parks today

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Despite the promise in 2010 to protect against development in fifty four enclaves, the Town Planning Board has today gazetted statutory plans under section 5 of the Town Planning Ordinance for Hoi Ha (S/NE-HH/1), Pak Lap (S/SK-PL/1) and So Lo Pun (S/NE-SLP/1).

The zoning for the first three enclaves allow the construction of large numbers of Small (New Territories Exempted) Houses deep inside the Sai Kung and Plover Cove Country Parks. Assuming similar ratios for all enclaves – the East and West Sai Kung Country Parks will see 3,000 and the Plover Cove Country Park around 4,000 new Small Houses.

The Government failed its promise to diligently consider incorporating the enclaves under Country Park protection. There has been no environmental, traffic or visual impact assessment of the cumulative impacts on country parks of small house developments in the enclaves.

The cancer of small house villages seen throughout the New Territories will now spread to the country parks. The environment will rapidly deteriorate with demands for roads and transport, and the chaos of effluent drainage, sewage percolation, and unauthorized occupation of land for construction, slope stabilisation, and parking

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