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Hong Kong Country Parks & Special Areas

Although Hong Kong is regarded as one of the world's great cities, out of the total 1,092 km² of land, about three-quarters is countryside. Scenically, Hong Kong has a great deal to offer - a landscape rising from sandy beaches and rocky foreshores to heights of almost 1,000 metres, woodlands and mountain ranges covered by open grassland and a variety of scenic vistas rarely, if ever, matched in so small a territorial unit.

Table of contents
1 Legal framework
2 The Parks
3 Facilities in the Parks
4 Conservation and Education
5 Management
6 External links and references

Legal framework

To conserve and, where appropriate, open up the countryside for the greater enjoyment of the population, the Country Parks Ordinance was enacted in 1976 to provide a legal framework for the designation, development and management of Country Parks and Special Areas. It provides for the establishment of a Country and Marine Parks Board to advise the Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation who, as Country and Marine Parks Authority, is responsible for all matters on Country Parks and Special Areas.

Country Parks are designated for the purposes of nature conservation, countryside recreation and outdoor education. Special Areas are created mainly for the purpose of nature conservation. Preserve your countryside and observe country codes.

The Parks

A total of 23 Country Parks and 15 Special Areas (11 of which lie inside Country Parks) have been established. They cover a total area of 41,582 hectares. The Country Parks comprise scenic hills, woodlands, reservoirs and coastline in all parts of Hong Kong.

These include Tai Mo Shan, Pat Sin Leng mountain range, Ma On Shan, Lion Rock, Sai Kung Peninsula, forest plantations at Shing Mun and Tai Lam, Shek Lei Pui Reservoir group and Lantau Island. Several islands such as Ping Chau in Mirs Bay are included, and Hong Kong Island itself has five Country Parks.

The parks are very popular with all sections of the community and a day in the countryside is an accepted part of the recreational opportunities available to the people. About 11.1 million visitors were recorded in 2001 and activities ranged from leisure walking, fitness exercises, hiking, barbecuing, mountain biking to family picnics and camping.

Facilities in the Parks

Provision of facilities include recreational sites with tables and benches, barbecue pits, litter bins, children's play apparatus, shelters, campsites and toilets - all carefully designed to blend in with the natural environment.

Footpaths and family walks provide easy access to the hills and the woodlands for visitors to take every opportunity of enjoying the scenic beauty of these areas. Major paths are being improved and waymarked through the hilly terrain.

The four long-distance hiking trails are very popular among hikers:

Conservation and Education

The parks and the special areas contain a wide variety of vegetation, including native and introduced tree species such as Camphor Tree, Machilus, Schima, Acacia, Slash Pine and Brisbane Box. There are also animals such as Barking Deer, Macaque, Wild Boar, Civet Cat, Pangolin, Chinese Porcupine and Squirrel; birds such as the Crow Pheasant, Great Barbet, Chinese Bulbul, Crested Mynah, Spotted Dove and Black-eared Kite; and a large variety of insects and about 240 species of butterflies. Over 500 birds nest boxes are introduced into country parks to enhance the breeding of birds.

The Tai Po Kau Special Area is a 'Nature Reserve' and caters for those who wish to study tree, plant, bird and insect life, as well as providing pleasant and interesting walks. There is a total ban on the lighting of fires in this important woodland area.

Increasing emphasis is being given to facilities to help visitors to enjoy and understand the countryside. In this connection, six visitor centres have been established at Aberdeen, Plover Cove, Sai Kung, Clear Water Bay, Shing Mun and Tai Mo Shan. The Lions Nature Education Centre at Tsiu Hang Special Area in Sai Kung, consists of a rich collection of fruit-bearing and amenity trees, vegetables, rocks and minerals, and other local vegetation, has been established for the purpose of nature education. The Shing Mun Arboretum has a collection of about 300 plant species. Along nature trails and tree walks, there are on-site interpretative signs for those who wish to study the nature.


Fire is the major hazard and it bedevils park management for about six months every year. This is the time of the cool, dry winter when many people like to spend a day out in the hills-especially at weekends and public holidays. In a normal fire season there can be as many as 300 hill fires in the parks with five to seven fires a day when conditions are particularly bad. In 1986, a 34-hour blaze destroyed 282,500 trees at Shing Mun and Tai Mo Shan and ravaged 740 hectares of countryside. Fire is the greatest threat to the beauty of the country parks.

Litter is another problem. One of the major tasks of park management is to collect litter left by the visitors which in 2001 totalled some 3 850 tonnes.

With such problems in mind, the Country and Marine Parks Authority has provided barbecue pits and litter bins located strategically throughout the park areas for the visitors. The Authority also prosecutes anyone found littering, damaging facilities or lighting fires outside the approved barbecue sites in the Country Parks.

A number of management centres have been established in strategic locations within the Country Parks from which construction, maintenance and protection services are provided.

See also:

External links and references