Villages Beside the River

The fertile soil and plentiful water attracted many clans to settle around Lam Tsuen River as early as the Sung Dynasty. The Qing government encouraged settlements and cultivation in the New Territories, and many Hakka farmers migrated to the Tai Po and Lam Tsuen areas. During World War II, many refugees swarmed to Hong Kong, and the population of Lam Tsuen increased drastically.

Nowadays, there are 26 villages and over 10,000 people in Lam Tsuen, mostly along Lam Tsuen River and its tributaries.

 


She Shan Tsuen beside She Shan River, a tributary of Lam Tsuen River.


Agriculture

Agricultural activities in Lam Tsuen Valley began in the Ming Dynasty. The Qing government encouraged cultivation, leading to many Hakka farmers settling in Lam Tsuen. Agriculture developed rapidly during the Japanese Occupation.

The period from 1950s to 1970s was the golden era for agriculture in Lam Tsuen. Farmers built new facilities such as weirs and ditches along river channels for irrigation. They also raised free-roaming livestock. The resulting wastes were discharged into Lam Tsuen River, causing water pollution.

Local agriculture dwindled following the change in economic structure from around the late 1970s. Many farmers gave up farming, leading to there being increasing areas of abandoned farmland in Lam Tsuen. Today, most fields in Lam Tsuen are used to grow ornamental crops such as peach and tangerine trees for Chinese New Year. Chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides used by farmers still pollute the river.


Weir


Ditch

Chrysanthemum field near She Shan River

Nowadays, farmers mostly cultivate ornamental crops.
 

Landuse Planning of Lam Tsuen Valley

Tai To Yan to the north of Lam Tsuen Valley, and Tai Mo Shan to the south, have been designated as country parks; hence, the headwaters and upper course of Lam Tsuen River have been well protected and not exploited in recent years. Land development of Lam Tsuen Valley along the middle course of Lam Tsuen River is regulated by the Outline Zoning Plan (OZP). The 2005 Lam Tsuen OZP delineated Lam Tsuen into areas such as "Green Belt", "Conservation Area", "SSSI", "Agriculture" and "Recreation".

Lam Tsuen Outline Zoning Plan
Information Source: Planning Department

New Town development

Tai Po Market and Tai Wo are at the original estuary of Lam Tsuen River. Alluvial plains downstream became fertile farmland, attracting settlers. Also, sea transportation was convenient. Hence, before the British arrived, Tai Po Market was one of the three major markets in Hong Kong. In 1979, Tai Po was developed into a second generation new town, which also included Hong Kong's first large-scale industrial estate in Hong Kong.

Large-scale reclamation was undertaken at the estuary of Lam Tsuen River, completely changing the original river and coastal area. The section after Mui Shue Heng and the new river mouth are all artificial channels. The land along the river is mainly used for residential and leisure purposes.

 


Tai Po New Town


The mouth of the Lam Tsuen River today

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