Taking in sites of special scientific interest by bicycle

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 August, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 August, 1999, 12:00am

Summertime, with its clear blue skies, is an ideal time for outdoors activities. So how about planning a cycling trip with your friends? Cycling is a popular activity.

You may feel that there are limited choices when it comes to cycling in Hong Kong and you may be bored with the cycling route along Tolo Harbour.

But did you know that there are many sites of special scientific interest (SSSI) in the northeast New Territories? A good way to get to know more about the SSSI is to include them on a cycling expedition.

A recommended starting point is Tai Po Hui where you can hire bicycles and buy food and drinks.

The whole route from Tai Po Hui to the final destination of Yim Tso Ha is about 20 kilometres. You can find the following SSSI along the route.

Sha Lo Tung The biological diversity in this area is extraordinarily rich. Important habitats in the area include sandy streams found at the bottom of a valley in Fung Shui Woods, and wet grasslands. Water at Sha Lo Tung is a very important factor affecting its bio-diversity. A total of 105 bird species, rare orchids and over half the total number of dragonfly species in Hong Kong has been recorded in this area.

Ma Shi Chau The Government designated Ma Shi Chau and its three adjacent islands as a special area in April.

A nature trail has been built and information boards put up to help you understand geological features of the area.

Some common coastal tree species like the Cuban Bast and the screw plant can be found along the shore. If you look closely at the rocks, you may find fossils of bivalves, ammonites, moss and coral.

Ting Kok The Ting Kok mangroves were designated a SSSI in March 1985. The designated site covers an area of about 37.5 hectares.

Five species of mangroves can be found there, including kandelia, aegiceras, avicennia, lumnitzera and bruguiera.

Yim Tso Ha More than 400 birds live at Yim Tso Ha. It is one of the most spectacular places in Hong Kong. Most of the birds here are cattle egrets, Chinese pond herons and night herons.

Other than the above SSSI, the Pat Sin Range, Sam Mun Tsai and Shuen Wan bird havens, A Chau and Chiu Keng Tam are also located along the cycling route.

WWF HK is a local charitable environmental organisation established in 1981 which aims to build a future in which people can live in harmony with nature. For information, call 2526- 1011 or e-mail to http://www.wwf.org.hk