Wide variety of functions
I REFER to a letter by Mr D. K. Pollard headlined, ''Indifference of park wardens'' (South China Morning Post, November 11).
There are 120 park wardens in the Agriculture and Fisheries Department.
They are responsible for a wide variety of duties in 21 country parks and three special areas covering 41,320 hectares of land (some 40 per cent of the total land area in Hong Kong).
Their duties include manning seven visitor centres and 21 warden posts, in providing information and assistance to the visitors, running various publicity and countryside education programmes, leading education walks, patrolling barbecue and picnic sitesand walking trails, and carrying out law enforcement work.
The park wardens work in shifts throughout the year.
On weekends and public holidays, an average of four or five park wardens are deployed in each country park to cover areas where the majority of visitors are concentrated, including visitor centres, barbecue sites, picnic sites, Family Walks and Nature Trails, etc.
As a result, few park wardens are available for patrol in remote areas and hiking trails in country parks.
Some park wardens are in plain clothes for special law enforcement work and thus they may not be noticed easily.
To supplement the shortage of park wardens on Sundays and public holidays, this department has sought assistance from the Civil Aid Services (CAS).
On each Sunday and public holiday, 40 CAS members are deployed to patrol hiking trails in the country parks in Sai Kung, Pat Sin Leng, Plover Cove, Ma On Shan and Lion Rock.
In the last 12 months, the park wardens arranged various countryside education activities for some 78,000 participants, gave information, advice and warnings to over 790,000 visitors and prosecuted 1,144 offenders.
I wish to assure Mr Pollard that this department is very concerned about the protection of our country parks. We shall continue our efforts in educating the public to keep our parks clean and green and in apprehending the litterbugs and fire-raisers.
C. W. LAI for Director of Agriculture and Fisheries