LIFE FINDS A WAY
Very Interesting|September/October 2020
LIFE FINDS A WAY
We humans transform landscapes and leave our unmistakable marks on the world. But these marks are not always indelible because, when we move out, nature quickly moves in to stake its claim once more
HAYLEY BENNETT

GREEN ABOUT THE HILLS

HOUTOUWAN, CHINA

In the 1990s, residents started leaving Houtouwan village on China’s Shengshan Island. This hilly isle is part of the Shengsi archipelago, lying less than 100km from the bustling streets of Shanghai on the mainland. In less than 30 years, Houtouwan has been entirely engulfed by vegetation. Only a decade before it was abandoned, it was a fishing village with 3,000 inhabitants. When the residents’ demand for seafood began to outstrip what the island could supply, fishermen took their families to the mainland, with a few later returning to show tourists around. Visitors like to peek inside the abandoned buildings, many of which have a museum-like quality, with remaining furniture and household items painting a picture of the recent past. However, locals have had to put up warning signs – some of the buildings are thought to be unsafe to enter due to creepers speeding up the deterioration of the architecture.

PUTTING DOWN ROOTS

HONG KONG, CHINA

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September/October 2020