Environmentalists in Hong Kong won an unprecedented victory this week when an appeals board rejected a plan by a government-owned railway to build a new line through Hong Kong’s largest freshwater wetland. The case was the first heard by the Environmental Impact Assessment Appeal Board since an environmental impact law was enacted in 1998. The board sided with environmental officials who last fall refused to permit the new rail line through the wetland, which is a haven for more than 200 migratory bird species. Not everyone was happy with the decision. “What’s more important,” said a local village leader, “tens of thousands of people or a few birds?”