Who is responsible for Hong Kong’s disappearing trails?

Hong Kong is dense with trails criss-crossing the territory. There are the major ones, like the MacLehose, Wilson, Hong Kong, and Lantau trails, then the minor ones and their tributaries.

What we may be less aware of is that many unofficially designated trails are at risk of disappearing for good. For centuries, residents of the territory have inscribed their marks onto its topography by walking the land over and over again.

As the city developed, trails took shape when construction teams erected pylons for overhead cables and built cable car systems up Lantau and at Ocean Park. But development also spelled the demise of some trails.

“Our problem is that most trails have never been designated and as a result there is no reinstatement obligation,” said Paul Zimmerman, the Southern district councilor and also the co-founder and CEO of Designing Hong Kong.

Without official status the Civil Engineering and Development Department is not actually required to ensure that the trails are reopened after work.

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