Hong Kong’s Wild Places, An Environmental Exploration
Commentary: Christine Loh, Legislative Councillor, Hong Kong, 1992 – 1997
Edward Stokes’ extensive efforts to photograph the natural beauty of Hong Kong, and to document the territory’s ecological history, enable the public to appreciate more fully the beauty within Hong Kong. He shows, to most of us for the first time, exactly what we stand to lose through our own ignorance.
South China Morning Post, 1995
The territory’s best book of 1995 was not about money, the politics of 1997 or high society, but about the very opposite of these things. Hong Kong’s Wild Places, by Edward Stokes, is a beautifully produced book with a probing, analytical text. This remarkable book highlights the history of – and the threats to – the natural landscape. Hong Kong’s Wild Places contains almost 150 of Edward Stokes’ startling photographs of the best, and the worst, of what remains.
This engaging book examines how Hong Kong’s immensely rich natural environment has been, and is being, undermined by breakneck growth. For those who have never taken the trouble to see the other side of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Wild Places will be an eye-opener. For those who already know and love Hong Kong’s wild places, the book is worth getting, if only for its excellent photographs. Photos may soon be all that is left.
Australian Financial Review, 1995
Edward Stokes’ authoritative book presents startling photographs of the territory, including landscapes with no hint of human habitation. His photographs – of waterfalls, mountain streams, sandy beaches, rocky crags and lush woodland – show that nature still survives here. But Hong Kong’s Wild Places is more than simply a coffee-table book. And, while reflective, it is written more optimistically than George Orwell’s Coming Up For Air.
Porcupine, Ecology and Biodiversity Journal, The University of Hong Kong, 1995
A casual browser might mistake this for a coffee-table book. A serious reader gets a very different impression. Stokes seems to have talked with everyone and read everything. No, not just seems to. He has! Talked, listened, read, remembered – and quoted at length in the text. The book is dense with information, yet also coherent and readable. Facts you know, and opinions you hold, are mixed with facts you did not know and opinions until now you were unaware of. The book ends with useful notes on hiking and photography. I suspect, however, that these tips will not be enough to produce photographs like the ones in this marvellous book.
Hong Kong Magazine, 1995
Hong Kong’s Wild Places beautifully documents the stunning natural environment so close at hand. Edward Stokes expertly synthesizes natural history, geology, and human history with an infectious sense of enthusiasm, and a keen eye for the beauty of Hong Kong’s sub-tropical landscape. The text combines impressive, well-applied research together with descriptive passages, and Stokes’ accounts are well integrated with the photographs.
Edward Stokes’ enthusiasm for Hong Kong’s natural splendours shines though as he interweaves ecological history with accounts of his own explorations, backed up by outstanding photographs. Stokes seeks to prod readers into caring about conservation. He uses an even-handed approach, balancing a celebration of what we still have with a view of what already has been lost.
Hong Kong’s Wild Places has a definite message for all those who have an affinity for the Hong Kong countryside. This is not another coffee-table book, but a thought provoking, in-depth look at Hong Kong’s magnificent natural attributes. The book is an unusually rich historical account of Hong Kong’s geography and heritage, and it amplifies the effects to the landscape of over development.
The book’s photographs show areas of Hong Kong which most tourists, indeed many locals, do not know exist. Hong Kong’s Wild Places is a book to read avidly. It urges us all to support every effort to preserve Hong Kong’s natural beauty and its “wild places”.