More about Lantau
After Hainan, Lantau is China’s second-oldest island - some 250 million years old. Lantau is one of the great islands of China and a rare jewel for Hong Kong. It should be valued as a timeless Chinese National Treasure.
Lantau has a rich historical and cultural background. Positioned at the mouth of China’s Pearl River it was at the junction of important trade routes. Some of the region’s most significant artefacts have been found on Lantau.
Lantau and its Islands have a rich ecology unique to the whole of South China. Lantau is also widely regarded as Hong Kong’s "western green lung."
It is largely undeveloped and contains our second and third highest mountains, untouched streams and wooded upland valleys containing a considerable bio-diversity, a rugged and beautiful coastline, and some of our best and most natural beaches.
Outside of Tung Chung and Discovery Bay, population density is small, comprising some 11,000 in total, most accommodated in small houses not exceeding 3 storeys in height. The overall impression is an area where human habitation sits lightly on the natural setting.
In conservation terms, Lantau is highly rated. It exhibits a coherent natural landscape which is unique in Hong Kong. The biodiversity is very high. South Lantau has magnificent beaches complemented by the mountain backdrop of Lantau and Sunset Peaks. Wetlands exist at Mui Wo although these are being eroded due to lack of zoning protection.
Lantau and it’s satellite islands have much to offer,in particular the small islands off the south of Lantau – Hei Ling Chau, Sunshine Island, Shek Kwu Chau and the Soko Islands, have incredibly rich flora and fauna.
There are unique species on these islands, such as the bizarre Bogadek’s worm lizard, and more are being discovered – two previously unknown species of snake on Shek Kwu Chau, which is also home to one third of Hong Kong’s incredibly diverse butterfly species.
The Soko Islands have the potential to be one of the finest eco-tourism sites in the region, with the added benefit of natural harbours, and a superb marine habitat with living coral.
Much of Lantau (144 sq km) is unspoilt and uninhabited and, to protect it from development, over half of the island has been designated as Country Park for nature conservation and recreational pursuits such as camping and hiking.
The main village settlements are along the coastline, including traditional fishing villages. Tidal mudflats are home to mangroves while the offshore waters are home to Hong Kong’s population of indo-pacific hump-back dolphins. Lantau is also home to Water Buffalo, Cattle and Muntjac Deer.
Lantau has an impressive range of flora and fauna. There are hundreds of species of resident and migratory birds plus resident colonies of bats. 70% of all locally recorded amphibians and reptiles can be found on Lantau including the Short-legged Toad and Roamer’s Tree Frog, which are only found in Hong Kong.Lantau also has nearly 60% of the total of 110 Dragonfly species and 120 recorded species of Butterflies found in Hong Kong.
There are also several areas of unique ecological value including wetlands, coastline, and natural streams, all of which need protection from destruction such as occurred in the infamous Tung Chung River boulders incident.
Lantau has some extremely rare species of Flowering Plants and Shrubs, some are only found in Hong Kong, including rare plants, herbs and fungi used in Chinese traditional herbal medicine together with orchids, poisonous plants, pitcher plants and bamboos.The island's vegetable crop includes ginger, carrot, sweet potatoes, luffa, mustard, turnip, taro, cabbage and bak choy. The fruit crop includes banana, pineapple, papaya, melon, loquats, pomelo, longan jackfruit, lychee, dragonfruit and wampi, plus the pungent but delicious durian.