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  • in reply to: Huge bridge from HK to Macau to create huge problems #8151

    To me, rather ironic that seems few people will reap rewards from Hong Kong government largesse – yes, this is the same government that recently said we can’t afford to increase the allowance for elderly people.

    in reply to: China snowstorms n bird movements and deaths #8147

    Hi Simon:

    Haven’t heard re influx of birds of prey during the cold spell; though on Cheung Chau did see couple of Common Buzzards, which not too common on the island.

    Just posted this to HK Birdwatching Soc forum:

    Last Friday – shortly before the long cold spell at last ended – walked Chi Ma Wan to Pui O. Plenty of thrushes, red-tailed robins, bluetails. But only four Yellow-browed Warblers (no Pallas’s Leaf) – one of these in saplings above a ditch w water, the other three foraging at ground level in small patch of Pui O marsh.
    During cold spell, I also saw Great Tits foraging on ground (a pair in woods on Cheung Chau memorable to me). So, surely desperate times, even for some of birds typically with us in winter.

    S China Morning Post has had some more reports on winter storm damage in China; inc one village where woman reported hearing bamboo cracking “like firecrackers” under weight of ice and snow; another village had all fruit trees wrecked. Today, there’s mention of “great losses to the forestry resources in the southern part of China” (cost at 57.3b yuan); “the destruction would also alter the local ecology … About 30,000 nationally protected wild animals were killed or injured”
    Latter seems an odd statistic, as China is wont to produce.
    But again, must wonder re scale of destruction to birdlife, inc some restricted range species.

    in reply to: Sharp Peak #8148

    Hi Simon:

    Some years ago, I came down a very rough track from Sharp Peak, down to ridge and then along to the saddle between Chek Keng and Tai Long (dark by the time we were part way down; once at bottom of main slope, used keyring flashlight to find a sign warned of dangerous slope, which people shouldn’t go up!).

    I think this is still viable, though difficult, and warned against (not sure if there are any official trails to the top).

    Martin

    in reply to: mt. parker & dragon’s back #8145

    Hi watergirl:

    Welcome to HK – and to Hong Kong Outdoors!

    I haven’t been up Mount Parker; have taken Hong Kong Trail up nearby Mount Butler, from where can drop down, eventually up Dragon’s Back.

    Just found short Hong Kong Trampers account of a Mount Parker climb:
    http://www.hktrampers.com/Mambo/content/view/357/24/

    Martin

    in reply to: Build a beach at Lung Mei? #8142

    Crap plan, small in the scheme of things, but to me another sign that too many of our “leaders” [worldwide] are bent on driving us to an environmental hell
    Can assume there will be a fair bit of concrete, too; HK Govt won’t be happy otherwise.

    The “temporary reclamation” areas in the harbour seem another mad scheme

    in reply to: Comments on Explore Wild Hong Kong #8110

    Via google, just come across blog post (by Auch, who I figure is Au Cheong Hang, quoted above) advising:

    Quote:
    Get this DVD now! … I’m very happy to see that there’re people who think Hong Kong’s wilderness worths a documentary film, and actually do the filming to publish it!

    Get this DVD!

    Also just received email from Bill Butcher, to whom I’d sent a copy of the DVD; includes:

    Quote:
    Thanks — safely received, with a beautifully produced pull-out.
    in reply to: Hong Kong Wetland Park – wise use of money?? #7910

    I emailed the above letter and link to article to 4 people I’d discussed the park with in 2004 (three email addresses no longer working), including Mr. Edmond Lam, General Manager of the Wetland Park.

    Edmond replied:

    Quote:
    You may wish to know the following for your information.

    (a) the percentage of overseas visitors (including Mainland China visitors) to HKWP in the second year of operation is about 20%;

    (b) the HKWP has organized over 8000 educational activities to over 280,000 students and the public ;

    (c) the HKWP has recorded over 210 species of birds (including ducks, waders, egrets and the globally endangered Black Faced Spoonbill), 40 species of dragonflies, 130 species of butterflies and other wildlife up to end of 2007; and

    (d) Although the “Shark Fin Soup” provided by the Cafe de Coral for afternoon tea set at the HKWP is a Japanese analogue, Cafe de Coral has already removed it from the menu in their restaurant at the HKWP upon our advise.

    I responded:

    Quote:
    Thanks for this info.

    Doesn’t address my main points.
    No indication you are working on ecotourism to benefit the area; nor on making the park at all integrated with Deep Bay.

    I’d hope there is some sense of shame re woefully misspent money, coupled with strong efforts to spend some more money wisely, as per Ramsar; but doubtful – that’s not the way with HK, or indeed with govt spending in many places!

    reply from Edmond Lam:

    Quote:
    lease be advised that the HKWP maintained regular liaison with stakeholders in tourism industry, HARCO, HK Tourism Board and overseas tourism organizations to promote eco-tourism at HKWP. Workshops and training programmes had also been organized regularly to tour guides, volunteers and students in ecotourism subjects.

    If you have any constructive suggestion to HKWP, we are glad to listen.

    – so I fired off an email with various ideas (resisting nuke the centre to create a big hold that can become a lake!):

    Quote:
    I made various suggestions some years ago. Some repeated here; a few are new.

    For instance, for real ecotourism, should involve local people: people connected with Deep Bay.
    [Otherwise, the workshops/training programmes etc do not involve anything that justifies being called “ecotourism” – it’s easy to use as buzz word, not so simple in practice.]

    The park is beside yet isolated from Deep Bay. I still believe much could be done to rectify this situation.

    The shop is terrible. Could, for relatively easy seeming start, have strong range of AFCD/Friends of the Country Parks titles. Also some of the other books on local natural history etc.
    – could even stock Explore WIld Hong Kong! dvd I co-produced (all monies from sales to Asian Wetland Conservation Fund).
    Could too try to see if can source any items from the area: gei wai shrimps, fish pond fish etc as foodstuffs (maybe Cafe de Coral could try some dishes w these?) Local veg, esp if organic.
    Maybe there are some artistic people in the area, who could make things to try selling as souvenirs. Again, such sales would make for something akin to genuine ecotourism.
    – for ideas, might look to wetland reserves elsewhere.

    Put nutrients, even if from pollution, into the stream thing; make it not so darn sterile.

    Work with the fish farmer whose pond one of the main hides overlook: if can give him some money, surely he can do some things to attract birds.

    Do away with “wetlands” as abstract idea; instead, use situation to tell of Deep Bay – and of other HK wetlands.
    [Probably too late for this! – that silly river thing at the end, with the rather dull tv reporting – seemed utterly remote from any wetland I’ve ever been to, let alone Deep Bay.
    There’s no need to tell of pollution affecting abstract wetlands: at Deep Bay, have concrete example; with Shenzhen etc, this is a wetland under more pressure than many in the world.]

    Arrange trails, maybe cycle ways, to get to other parts of Deep Bay; can perhaps include Mai Po.

    Tell people of other wetlands in HK, like at Mui Wo, Tai O, Sham Chung etc.
    Include re problems these face; and encourage people to visit, become ecotourists elsewhere.

    Arctic exhibit: again, pretentious, and what’s the point of caribou, say?
    Could have stronger HK link: show birds that breed in Arctic, occur in HK. No need, then, for Red-breased Goose, even tho a gorgeous species.
    De-emphasise snow: arctic winter not relevant for many birds, other than as reason they migrate. Can show colour schemes, eg Curlew Sandpipers etc in spring plumage suited to breeding among lichens.

    Mangroves: likewise, could do more to tell re HK; garial not right species, but saltwater crocs were maybe native to HK; maybe too we even had dugong (not so sure, but seen possibility of this, long ago).

    Chinese White Dolphins: estuarine, and not far away; surely worth a mention within the humungous visitor centre.

    Greatly improve the internal exhibits with HK species; or even do away with them if poor – small tanks w sorry looking creatures not too good (weren’t the fiddler crabs on pebbles?). Dioramas would be ok; and again, not abstract, but show some real places, show how they are eyed by would-be golf course developers etc.

    Is the land on left, immediately as enter the park, also part of the park’s area? If so, create a lagoon like the “mudflat”, but viewable from outside – so seems like really heading towards a wetland park.

    Less pretentious muzak; there’s no need for New Age boring music.
    Add sounds from HK wetlands; and yes, maybe inc pile drivers.

    The make-your-own-music thingies had utterly wrong sounds for some species, eg redshank. Don’t know why, other than the design team knowing nothing about wildlife and wetlands.

    Tell people of the Ping Shan Heritage Trail: easily combined with visit to the park. (We combined; I liked the trail.)

    Well, there we are – quite a list.

    But I’m no big bureaucrat, nor a fancy company consultant from half way round the world (I’ve done env consultancy work for the World Bank, but when Wetland Park planned seemed local expertise wasn’t important ) – so I’ve no real hope anything will change.
    Yet, for income and expenditure to come closer to balancing, for dyed in the wool local conservationists to have a positive opinion of the park and the use of money, changes of some kind surely needed.

    I’ve also come across info from Ming Pao, May 2007, inc:

    Quote:
    About 1.2 million visitors visited the 1-yr-old Wetland Park in the last yr. The 20 million revenue covered about 70% of their expense.

    – so even though visitor numbers high, above expectations, revenue significantly below expenditure: hardly seems so good for tourism!
    Prompt reply to my email w ideas:

    Quote:
    Thanks a lot, we will look into your suggestion.
    in reply to: Hong Kong Wetland Park – wise use of money?? #7909

    Here’s a letter re the Wetland Park, which I sent to the South China Morning Post. An edited version was published on 21 January.

    Quote:
    Dear Sir:

    I have long had serious misgivings concerning Hong Kong Wetland Park, especially given it reportedly cost around HK$500 million – a huge sum compared to monies spent on conservation in the internationally important Deep Bay wetland, which the park is both within and yet oddly isolated from.

    Even so, I headed there at the weekend, figuring it might make for an interesting family outing. Indeed it was interesting, yet the visit only confirmed my misgivings, for the Wetland Park is a surreal place, and perhaps could rank as the World’s Weirdest Wetland Park.

    The park supposedly doubles as a centre for conservation and a tourism attraction. Yet my impression is that it’s the product of designers with little or no real conservation knowledge, who were given a free reign with an enormous budget. There is an outdoor habitat, with water, but to anyone familiar with nearby Mai Po Marshes, much of this seems almost sterile. Only one lagoon looks to have first rate habitat; two hides gaze towards Deep Bay, over areas outside the park, and with rather few, distant birds.

    The 10,000 square metre visitor centre is approached by a broad concrete road North Korea might be proud of. Within are exhibits including an artificial mangrove swamp – barely a stone’s throw from one of the prime mangrove areas in South China! Parts of the centre seem utterly remote from the outside world, including a theatre like the interior of a spaceship, beside which is a side room with a motion simulator.

    Strangest of all during my visit, the restaurant menu listed shark’s fin soup. This seems astonishing in anywhere with a supposed focus on conservation, especially of wetlands. Yet I have since learned it’s fake: appropriate perhaps – in a place with mock mangroves and interiors that seem far from reality, even the restaurant serves a bogus dish.

    I know the park has reported high visitor numbers, so has been touted a success. But how many of the visitors were overseas tourists? If this number is small, the park is not playing a significant role as a tourism attraction. And if few or none of the visitors become enthused about conservation, the park is failing in this too.

    In 2004, I held discussions with park planners, expressing misgivings and covering possible measures to nurture ecotourism in the area, and benefit local people. I hope some of these measures can be implemented.

    I’ve included similar info, together with extra material and photos, in an article on this site:
    Hong Kong Wetland Park Weird but not Wonderful

    in reply to: Living Seas group on Facebook #8137

    Visit Living Seas (URL above), and you can now sign online petition re wanting to safeguard Hong Kong’s marine environment.

    in reply to: Hong Kong Pathfinder – updates #7912

    Just received this email, via publisher:

    Quote:
    This is an excellent publication and I have enjoyed many of the walks in this book during my numerous visits to Hong Kong.

    However the walk "Over Lion Rock" needs some correction which you may consider if the book is reprinted in the future.

    In the "Getting there" section bus 72 no longer goes along Tai Po Road. The start of the trail is served by KMB bus 81 which starts at Jordan (Wui Cheung Road Bus Terminus) Regards Ian Boyce

    in reply to: Hong Kong Wetland Park – wise use of money?? #7908

    Turns out another conservationist had contacted Cafe de Coral re the soup.
    Received reply inc this:

    Quote:
    “Shark’s fin soup tea set” is one of the items in our regular menu at Wetland Park branch. The soup is made of vegetarian fin, which is not real fin from shark but a kind of Japanese style imitate shark fin, dried bamboo fungus, shredded imitate abalone and shredded pork. The original product concept is to promote usage of Japanese style imitate shark fin as a substitute to real shark fin. Message of using “Japanese style fin” has been incorporated in the in-store promotion materials during initial stage of product launch to emphasis that the product is not using real shark fin. For the sake of easier communication and to let consumer know that vegetarian fin carry the same texture and taste as real fin, however, we decided to use a commonly recognised name “shark’s fin soup” to describe the product in menu.

    We regret the lack of elaboration in the recent menu about product ingredients caused misunderstanding to some of our customers. To avoid the same incident happen again, we will amend menu wording of related products and wording in the web site so as to ensure a more direct expression on product ingredients can be achieved.

    Perhaps appropriate – fake soup, in place with mock mangroves, fake arctic scene, spaceship like theatre…

    Curiously, the Shark’s Fin Soup mentioned on Cafe de Coral website evidently is real shark fin soup.

    in reply to: Hong Kong Wetland Park – wise use of money?? #7906

    Yesterday, I went to the Wetland Park for first time since it fully opened: went as part of day w friends/family.
    Found it weird but not wonderful – I plan to do article on it for this site.

    Most flabbergasting of all: shark’s fin soup on offer in the only restaurant there, run by Cafe de Coral. Seems a bunch of boneheads are in charge! How could anyone at Cafe de C figure this is a suitable dish for a conservation site? How could staff of Wetland Park allow it to happen? – are there no conservationists working at the Park?

    wetlandparksharksfin_post.jpg

    I wondered if might be fake – after all, seemed completely ridiculous that could buy shark’s fin soup at place with supposed emphasis on wetland conservation.
    But Cafe de Coral cheerfully boast about selling shark’s fin, on their website:

    Quote:
    Besides our well established menu, Cafˆm de Coral also explores into the realm of the newest tastes. We even introduced luxurious dishes that used to be served only in the most prestigious hotels and high-end dining restaurants, such as our Winter Melon Soup that comes in one-person portion, Shark’s Fin Soup

    Cafe de Coral products

    in reply to: Comments on Explore Wild Hong Kong #8109

    Email just in, from Au Cheong Hang, titled “Love the DVD”:

    Quote:
    Hi I’ve heard about Explore Wild Hong Kong DVD from WWF HK email. Bought it, our family watched it and really appreciate the work. I’ve been to many of the places mentioned in the video, finally someone put them together to show to people some of the best samples of wilderness in here. Well done and thanks!

    I forwarded the email to Lew Young, director of Mai Po Nature Reserve, and he replied, including:

    Quote:
    I’m not surprised that you’re getting good reviews. There is nothing else like it to promote the ‘wild’ side of HK and it’s a good DVD anyway. Its also selling very well in the WWF outlets
    in reply to: CO2 causing much of warming but action lacking #8140

    Here’s another letter I’ve sent the South China Morning Post [edit: appeared on 7 Jan 08], responding to letter from Viscount Monckton.

    Quote:
    Dear Sir:

    It was interesting to see that Viscount Monckton of Benchley – who once wrote an article titled “The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS”, recommending quarantine for all HIV carriers – has written to the South China Morning Post, attempting to put the editors right regarding global warming.

    Sadly, Monckton fails to muster arguments that make his case. Claiming global surface temperatures have not risen in a statistically significant sense since 2001, he omits to mention that NASA ranks 2005 the warmest year in over a century, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently reported that “Eleven of the last twelve years (1995-2006) rank among the twelve warmest years in the instrumental record of global surface temperature (since 1850).¡¨

    Plus, in seeking a trend over just six years, Monckton has tumbled into his own trap of lacking statistical significance. The warming trend is clearly upwards, and the latest data suggests the rise is faster than previously estimated.

    Monckton also refers to apparent anomalies in temperatures recorded in the tropical upper troposphere, and states that from these we now know that the relatively minor warming that ceased (sic) in 2001 was largely not caused by greenhouse gas emissions. Here, he ignores the large errors in upper troposphere temperature measurements. And – as so often with global warming “sceptics” – he ignores the mountain of scientific publications that show global warming resulting from greenhouse gas emissions is real and significant, and cherry picks from the molehill of science that suggests otherwise.

    In concluding that no imposts should be inflicted upon us unless we are told how much they will cost and how much effect they will have, Monckton reveals his narrow knowledge of global warming. The IPCC has forecast that measures to mitigate the worst impacts of global warming could slow global GDP growth by an average of 0.12 percentage points.

    The Post was correct to write of a “planetary emergency”. We are all effectively locked in a test tube, in surely the greatest experiment man has ever performed. If the worst projections come true, this will mean the transformation of life as we know it: a dire, apparently sci-fi scenario, yet a succession of news reports tell us of warming-related events that are unfolding at a startling pace.

    This is not a time for debating and waiting and seeing, but for action.

    Yours faithfully,
    Dr Martin Williams

    in reply to: what a hike with Roz group #8130

    Hi Vicky:

    Good to hear more news – and of another top hike!
    I’ve been up Sharp Peak a couple of times; the tiny stones on steep paths make hike a bit tough I think, but a grand hill in a marvellous area.

    Best wishes for the New Year!
    Martin

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