A large grassy pitch is a rare sight in Hong Kong.
We used to be told that whenever there’s space, it should be filled with residential buildings to help ease the housing problem.
While it’s true that we have green parks and sports grounds, most venues want people to keep off the grass.
Activities such as taking strolls or having picnics on the grass are far-fetched.
When a piece of wild open grassland appeared in front of me, I felt excited even though I was aware of the fact that it was just a mistake.
The place was Sham Chung in Sai Kung.
All over were once lovely rice paddies, said a couple who grew up in the village.
Thanks to Mother Nature, the abandoned farmland has evolved into a wetland, home to various species.
But in 1999 the natural wetland was destroyed and converted into a grass field by some property developers who wanted to build a golf course.
Call it fortunate or unfortunate, the application for the change of land use was rejected by the Town Planning Board.
That’s the reason the field remains as it is today.
It is private land but everyone is free to enjoy the space. Parents and children can be seen playing on the grass.
My friend and I once enjoyed some noodles with egg and luncheon meat on the giant lawn. We also had locally grown organic choy sum.
Never underestimate the vibrancy of nature.
I observed, dragonflies, small fish, herons and other wildlife in the area. The small mangrove trees on the coast of the cove stand rigidly in the wind.
Here, biodiversity will continue to thrive as long as people respect the place.
To go to / return from Sham Chung: Take KMB bus route 299X in Sha Tin Central bus terminal; get off in Kei Ling Ha Lo Wai stop and walk along the coast of Three Fathoms Cove to Sham Chung.
Time: About 2.5 hours
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec. 17, 2014.
Translation by Darlie Yiu with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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