From the South China Morning Post of today. A typical Hong Kong solution for something that isn’t a problem. Instead of being happy and proud about the beautiful nature on the outlying islands, some dimwit with nothing better to do comes and has it all buggered up. Disgraceful!
The huge boulders scattered around the hills of the outlying islands have stood for more than 100,000 years. But someone, somewhere in Hong Kong’s vast bureaucracy, believes they may suddenly roll down the slopes and injure hikers.
And so to that truly Hong Kong solution – concrete and paint.
One instance of such work is the hiking trail that cuts along a slope in Tung O, Lamma Island. Large boulders along the trail increase the beauty of the landscape that has been designated an area of special scientific interest.
But now concrete slabs, painted light blue, have been pegged under some of the boulders. Short concrete barriers have been built in front of the rocks.
Does it help hikers better enjoy the scenic beauty?
No, says Laura Ruggeri, chairwoman of Living Lamma, a local conservation group. “[These works] are tantamount to vandalism. It is totally out of proportion,” she said.
“The area is uninhabited and intensive development would not be permitted under the current land zoning restrictions.”
Young Ng Chun-yeong, chairman of the Association for Geoconservation, said the granite boulders were naturally formed by weathering over at least 100,000 years. “[It may take] another 10,000 or more years to break down to smaller pieces [as it is].”
Spokeswomen for the Development Bureau and the Home Affairs Department say they are trying to find out why the work was carried out and who is responsible.
If the concrete slabs are intended to stop the boulders from rolling downhill, it won’t work, Ng says. “They may never roll downhill unless there’s an earthquake or a really heavy downpour which may trigger a massive landslide, [and under such circumstances] the whole area will collapse because of the landslide.”
Hikers are miffed. “[They] destroy the natural beauty of the location for all hikers for centuries to come. It is truly a shame,” said Melanie Moore of the Lung Fu Shan Environmental Concern Group.
Ruggeri, a regular hiker in the Alps, says there are better ways to secure maintain slopes, such as using plants and wood. The work on Lamma Island reflects a lack of awareness and understanding of aesthetics among the city’s engineers and contractors, she says.
“Hong Kong should learn from others. The [United Nations] Food and Agriculture Organisation organises conferences [on slope maintenance] that are attended by forest experts from around the world, China included. [But] my friend, who attends these events, told me he never met any Hong Kong delegates.”
Ruggeri said concerns were raised with a district councillor, but she felt the councillor was more interested in pursuing more of these minor public works to keep contractors busy.
“These are jobs for the boys,” she said. “If the government has money to pay the contractors, it may as well pay them to do their work properly.”