Abandoned Hong Kong ranch home to 60 bird species and endangered toad ‘should be preserved as ecological heritage park’
South China Morning Post 15-9-2015
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 September, 2015, 4:38pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 September, 2015, 5:24pm
An "ecological heritage park" should be set up in Pok Fu Lam's Chi Fu Valley to protect recently discovered valuable remnants of an old dairy farm, as well as its flora and fauna.
Residents from the nearby private middle-class Chi Fu Fa Yuen estate and conservation experts believe the site, which they fear will be lost for housing, is worth preserving as a park.
The old Dairy Farm Company ranch dates back to 1894, and dense vegetation has engulfed the site since its operations came to a halt in 1983.
But land "near Chi Fu road" was named by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in his policy address last year as one of five sites that will be used in the redevelopment and expansion of the nearby Wah Fu Estate to provide 21,000 new public flats.
The "treasure trove" of ruins from the old farm, including intact stone walls, silos, dairies, water tanks, manure pits, paddocks and pigsties can still be seen through thick overgrowth and are relics in their own right, said Steve Sau Chi-ching, convenor of the Chi Fu Fa Yuen Residents’ Association Greenbelt Rezoning Concern Group
"They are remarkably well-preserved," he said. The residents stumbled upon the ruins last winter.
They also counted 34 old valuable trees including 20 stone wall banyans, 60 bird species as well as rare amphibians such as the short-legged toad, which is listed as endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list.
Professor Edward Yiu Chung-him, associate director of Chinese University's Institute of Future Cities, said the discovery was timely as the government was drafting an action plan for the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.
"This would be Hong Kong's first ever eco-heritage park," said Chung. He cited parks such as Jackson Park in Chicago and Fuyang Eco Park in Taiwan as worth studying. Yiu said the first hurdle would be to lobby the government for a change of use.
He suggested the park management could be tendered to a non-profit organisation, much like the country park enclave of Lai Chi Wo in the Northeastern New Territories.
Katty Law Ngar-ning, a member of concern group Heritage Watch, said she was very impressed by the residents’ findings. “It’s a very important cultural heritage site featuring valuable built and natural environment, she said.
“We’ve lost so many stone walls trees on Bonham Road recently but it’s amazing we still have so many in Chi Fu.”
The Housing Department said it started technical assessments on the Wah Fu redevelopment earlier this year, and would put its findings to the Southern District Council when they were complete.
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