A valley of rich ecological and cultural resources – Sha Lo Tung

Looking back on Sha Lo Tung’s past : Sha Lo Tung , one of the very few regions in Hong Kong remained untouched by man , has received some recent attention due to a proposed development plan in the area . It occupies more than eighty hectares of land area , and this valley is surrounded by Pat Sin Leng Country Park . The local villagers make their living by the farmlands . About twenty years ago , some developers purchased land from the villagers , and decided to turn these farmlands and villagers’ houses into golf courses and low-density residential area . Thanks to fierce objections from local green groups and lack of approval from the Environmental Protection Department , Sha Lo Tung remains a rural area .

Ecological Value : The main reason Sha Lo Tung has remained undeveloped is because of its rich and abundant ecological resources . It has been widely recognized by experts and green groups to have a high degree of ecological and cultural value . The Hong Kong government also realized that Sha Lo Tung is the most ecologically important area after Mai Po Marsh . Therefore , the area was established as a “Site of Special Scientific Interest” (SSSI), and any local development is strictly limited and highly regulated . The valley at Sha Lo Tung has managed to maintain many unpolluted streams and dense “Feng Shui” forests , which provides an ideal environment to nurture a wide variety of plants and animal species .

It is estimated that there are 170 herb species and 600 vascular plant species in this small area . More than 100 species of birds have been sighted at Sha Lo Tung , and near dusk , the entire valley comes alive with the sound of bird songs . Many large mammals have also been spotted in Sha Lo Tung , such as wild boar , barking deer and pangolin as well as snakes . The streams of Sha Lo Tung are inhabited by many species of dragonflies and freshwater fishes , and some of them are quite rare and precious . This region also has a variety of butterfly and amphibian species .

Hong Kong’s Cultural Heritage : But there is even more to this valley . The history that Sha Lo Tung carries with it has tremendous cultural value . The old villages here witnessed the living culture of Hong Kong’s early settlers . Although most village houses are now empty and deteriorating over time , as you step into these houses , you feel as though you are walking into the lives of local villagers years ago. The broken floor , beds , farming , and cooking tools are left untouched inside the houses as a witness to history . The Hong Kong Government has already labeled the abandoned “Hakka” village houses as second grade historical relics .

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