New study floats fresh ideas to add value and visitors to Hong Kong’s country parks

More campsites and an expanded trail running and mountain biking network could all be on the cards

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 April, 2017, 1:21pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 April, 2017, 8:46pm

Turning barbecue sites into campgrounds and expanding trail running and mountain biking networks have all been flagged as possible ways to boost the value of Hong Kong’s country parks.

The government has launched a HK$2.6 million study looking at how to enhance the educational and recreational potential of country parks. The results are expected to be released for public discussion by mid-2018.

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Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department director, Dr Leung Siu-fai, said most people go hiking, trekking, barbecuing or kite flying in the parks.

“Others go for photography or sightseeing,” Leung said.

“But apart from these, are there any other recreational activities that could facilitate nature conservation or the country park environment that we can also consider introducing?”

About 13 million people visited country parks in 2016, but Leung said there was room to increase that figure.

He brushed off suggestions that proposals such as building flats in country parks – something that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying left open as a possibility in his latest policy address – would be included in the study as it did not fall under the scope of boosting recreational or educational value.

Assistant director for country and marine parks, Patrick Lai Chuen-chi, said it would include ways to better facilitate county park activities that are in high or growing demand.

Lai said it could be possible to increase availability of campsites across Hong Kong by converting less-frequented barbecue sites into tent spaces or by introducing a pre-booking system.

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“We are also noticing an increasing popularity of trail running ... and to a lesser extent, mountain biking,” he said.

The study will be one of a number of initiatives launched throughout the year by the department to commemorate 40 years since the country parks system was created. Other initiatives include excursions and a plantation enrichment project to increase the ratio of native tree species in the parks.