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Favourite Hotspots Nominated for Future Eco-Heritage Trails

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Favourite Hotspots Nominated for Future Eco-Heritage Trails

30 May 2010

Many people may think Hong Kong is a concrete jungle, but we do have country parks with beautiful natural resources and unique ecological values. So, next time you are in a country park, don't be surprised to find endangered species of amphibians such as the short-legged horned toad hopping about, or see numerous historical relics still around us, such as the Tai Tam Obelisk.

Thanks to a group of nature lovers who hike and fish every opportunity they get and dug out hidden "treasures" while combing the natural environment of Hong Kong Island. They submitted their treasured finds to the "My Favourite Eco-Heritage Hotspots on Hong Kong Island" competition and 10 of them will have their nominations considered for inclusion in future eco-heritage trails on the island.

The competition is part of the "Green Hong Kong Green" project launched last year by HK Electric and The Conservancy Association (CA). It aims at exploring and promoting the ecological and historical values of Hong Kong Island, while enhancing public awareness of environmental and heritage protection.

The competition invited the public to trek Lung Fu Shan Country Park, Aberdeen Country Park, Tai Tam Country Park and their surrounding areas, and submit what they thought would be rare and worth seeing. It received more than 370 nominations.

The champion hotspot of the Student Category is the "Short-legged Horned Toad" nominated by Ray So, a second-year student at the University of Hong Kong's Ecology and Biodiversity Department. Ray, who takes keen interest in toads and frogs, found it during one of his night excursions to Lung Fu Shan Country Park. "The nocturnal toad is an endemic and endangered species in Hong Kong. Its cornered face gives it an adorable appearance. During spring and summer nights, ponds and streams come alive with a croaking sound as the males sound off to attract females."

Second and third place-getters in the same category are lichen and butterflies found in Tai Tam Country Park. Hong Kong has more than 200 types of lichen, which is nature's fresh air indicator. Due to its high sensitivity towards pollutants, it is found only in areas with good air quality.

The top heritage hotspot in the Open Category, Tai Tam Obelisk, originally was part of a pair – one to the north of Tai Tam Bay near Redhill Peninsula and the other south of Shek O. Rising as high as 10 metres, they were erected by the then British Navy for military purpose and for measuring distances between vessels.

First runner-up nominator Lai Sek-tong, who found the "Kwan Tai Lo Milestone" and "The Underwater Remains", is an avid hiker and fisherman. He explained: "There are two sayings about the Kwan Tai Lo name. Some say it means the 'road is zigzagged, resembling the shape of a skirt'. Others believe there was a villager called 'Ah Kwan', who showed the British the way to the City of Victoria in mid-1800s. The road was thus named after her."

Mr. Lai also discovered "The Underwater Remains" while fishing at Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir at low tide and saw the remains of the previous water pumping station there. It can be easily seen during the dry season from December to May.

Another hiker is Mr. Edward Tsui who discovered black kites in Aberdeen Country Park. "Every evening around sunset, the birds can be seen hovering in flocks between Coombe Road and Peak Road, making the scene most spectacular. Hong Kong people are too busy to notice the natural beauty around them." He advised people to slow down and observe carefully, and they will be surprised by what they discover.

One of the adjudicators, HK Electric Director of Engineering (Planning and Development), Mr. Wan Chi-tin, believes the nominated hotspots are special and unique. "We received nominations such as the historical Kwan Tai Lo Milestone, the lichen and the Nam Fung Road Woodlands which has such rich ecological values. They reveal the high ecological resources on Hong Kong Island. We are very delighted at sharing these treasures with Hong Kong residents via this competition and the future eco-heritage routes."

Another adjudicator, CA Chairman, Mr. Lam Kin-lai, expressed: "The quality of the competition is brilliant and the winners show they have great observation skills and deep understanding of nature. We hope that through educational talks and the learning process during nomination, knowledge of environmental awareness and the passion for nature is enhanced."

Other judges included Chairperson of the Panel on Environmental Affairs of the Legislative Council, Ms. Audrey Eu; Chairman of Central and Western District Council, Mr. Chan Tak-chor; Chairman of the National Education Association, Dr. Leung Ping-wa; and Senior Country Park Officer of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, Mr. Edmond Lam. They ranked the winning hotspots according to their ecological and historical values, uniqueness and interest, as well as easy accessibility. The 10 winners were selected after scores were combined with results of a public on-line voting:

Student Category

Hotspot

Country Park

Nominator

Champion

Short-legged Horned Toad

Lung Fu Shan

Ray So

1st Runner-Up

Lichen

Tai Tam

Lee Chui-chui

2nd Runner-Up

Butterflies at BBQ site

Tai Tam

Lau Tsz-yan

Merit Award

Tai Tam Valley

Tai Tam

Tse Kwong-to

Merit Award

Stream

Tai Tam

Chin Ho-ki

Most Supportive Schools

Ho Dao College, sponsored by Sik Sik Yuen and Bonham Road Government Primary School

Open Category

Hotspot

Country Park

Nominator

Champion

Tai Tam Obelisk

Tai Tam

Michelle Yan Mei-yee

1st Runner-Up

Kwan Tai Lo Milestone

Tai Tam

Lai Sek-tong

2nd Runner-Up

Flying Black Kites

Aberdeen

Edward Tsui Yick-chiu

Merit Award

The Underwater Remains

Tai Tam

Lai Sek-tong

Merit Award

Nam Fung Road Woodland

Aberdeen

Ho Kin-ming

During the coming years, the "Green Hong Kong Green" project will carry out tree nursing, develop new eco-heritage routes, publish eco-tour maps and train voluntary eco-leaders to guide the public on touring the new routes.

Chairman of The Conservancy Association, Mr. Lam Kin-lai (second from left) presents prizes to the winners of the Open Category: (from left) Mr. Ho Kin-ming, Mr. Lai Sek-tong and Mr. Edward Tsui Yick-chiu.

Chairman of The Conservancy Association, Mr. Lam Kin-lai (second from left) presents prizes to the winners of the Open Category: (from left) Mr. Ho Kin-ming, Mr. Lai Sek-tong and Mr. Edward Tsui Yick-chiu.

HK Electric’s Director of Engineering (Planning and Development), Mr. Wan Chi-tin (third from right) presents prizes to the five winners of the student Category.

HK Electric's Director of Engineering (Planning and Development), Mr. Wan Chi-tin (third from right) presents prizes to the five winners of the student Category.

Three winners (from left) Mr. Ray So, Mr. Lai Sek-tong and Mr. Edward Tsui share how they identified their winning spots.

Three winners (from left) Mr. Ray So, Mr. Lai Sek-tong and Mr. Edward Tsui share how they identified their winning spots.

A group photo of the winners with the officiating guests.

A group photo of the winners with the officiating guests.

Short-legged Horned Toad (Lung Fu Shan)

Short-legged Horned Toad (Lung Fu Shan)

Lichen (Tai Tam)

Lichen (Tai Tam)

Butterflies at BBQ site (Tai Tam)

Butterflies at BBQ site (Tai Tam)

Tai Tam Obelisk (Tai Tam)

Tai Tam Obelisk (Tai Tam)

Kwan Tai Lo Milestone (Tai Tam)

Kwan Tai Lo Milestone (Tai Tam)

Flying Black Kites (Aberdeen)

Flying Black Kites (Aberdeen)

The Underwater Remains (Tai Tam)

The Underwater Remains (Tai Tam)