First step to eco-tourism

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 November, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 November, 1997, 12:00am

The seemingly impossible task of building a pollution-free park in Hong Kong looks set to become a reality.

The Government has plans for an eco-park in Kowloon's Jordan Valley.

Work on the project, to be implemented in conjunction with the Provisional Urban Council, is expected to start within two years.

There are already eco-parks in mainland cities like Zhuhai and Wuhan.

How are eco-parks different from usual parks? There are strict guidelines for their construction and their operation.

They are modelled on typical natural ecosystems, comprising plants as producers, animals as macro-consumers, and microbes as micro-consumers.

Many species are needed, each occupying a specific proportion of the total area.

Coniferous and broad-leaved trees are planted together to minimise pests and diseases.

Because serious pollution is avoided during the park's construction, and the mix of many plant species is capable of purifying pollutants, pollution does not exist within the eco-park.

It gives off fresh gases, such as oxygen, and negative ions, which improve human health and help the treatment of disease.

Eco-parks improve the environment and create a better living environment for nearby residents.

They are mainly built on natural hillsides, with a few constructed on former landfills - as in the case of the 6.5-hectare Jordan Valley site.

The tropical and subtropical climate which Hong Kong experiences facilitate the growth and reproduction of many species - more than are found in the whole of Britain.

The biological diversity of Hong Kong helps the composition of the eco-park. If the garbage of the landfill is domestic organic waste only, there is no problem for the plant life.

The plants in the park break down the waste and then absorb nutrients for their growth and reproduction.

But if the landfill is full of industrial waste from factory districts - such as Kwun Tong, Kwai Tsing and Tai Po - the waste may contain such toxic substances as heavy metals and dyes which can poison the organisms of the eco-park instead of being broken down.

Meanwhile, ecological tourism is becoming increasingly popular throughout the world.

Conservationists are happy Hong Kong looks set to have its own eco-park in the near future.

Eco-tourism can harmonise the needs of the environment with the tourism industry of the SAR.

Friends of the Earth is a local non- profit environmental organisation. For more information, call 2528-5588