Hong Kong’s Wild Places, An Environmental Exploration

Photographer and Author: Edward Stokes
Publisher: Oxford University Press (HK), 1995
Format: Hardback, 255mm x 260mm, 212pp.
Photos: Colour
ISBN: 0-19-586601-0


Follow Edward Stokes on this unforgettable journey across Hong Kong’s natural landscape. And, along the way, learn about the evolution of its natural and man-made environment.

By way of photographs and lively, informed narrative, Stokes takes the reader though Hong Kong’s wild places: towering peaks, grassy hills, wooded valleys and indented rugged coasts. He reveals the surprisingly rich flora and fauna that survive in these wild domains, despite being very close to an intensely crowded metropolis.

With historical and regional chapters, the book documents the dramatic changes, since geological times, to Hong Kong’s hills, valleys and coasts: from their origins millions of years ago, on to the effects of the massive postwar influx of immigrants and refugees, industrialization during – and after – the Korean War, and in recent years the spreading development and infrastructure.

As I explored Hong Kong’s remote, wild places, I realized that the common view of Hong Kong – as a purely urban phenomenon, a city without natural origins and present-day ecology – was deeply flawed.

Shooting, researching and writing Hong Kong’s Wild Places was a joy. I had returned to my childhood home, Hong Kong. Now, as a photographer and writer, I was interpreting what I had loved most as a boy – its great outdoors. Here, I sign copies before the book launch.

Stokes highlights the natural and man-made challenges to the local environment: climatic conditions, population pressure, industrialization and pollution. He celebrates the great beauty and grandeur of the remaining ‘wild places’, and also highlights the recent damage done by man. No one before has illustrated so evocatively the beauty – and fragility – of Hong Kong’s natural landscape; and the urgent need to preserve its remaining wild places.

The sense of both past and present inform Edward Stokes’ atmospheric photographs and his poetic essays. As he wrote in the book’s Preface: ‘The spirit of the past seemed often to colour the country. The land, I came to see, told its own story.’ That story he brought together from long solo photo excursions through the countryside, in-depth research at the University of Hong Kong Libraries, and interviews with scholars and advocates involved in conservation and the environment.

“The natural beauty of Hong Kong deserves to be protected. Edward Stokes’ enlightening photographs and text celebrate the territory’s environment, and warn of the pressures of development.”
John Hodgkiss, Chairman, Country and Marine Parks Board

Edward Stokes’ Hong Kong’s Wild Places manuscripts are held by The University of Hong Kong Libraries.