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3.2 Land Use and Land Supply
Country Parks, Special Areas and Open Space

Hong Kong's conservation and open space areas provide an important natural asset not only in terms of land resources but also for the ancillary benefits to ecological, assimilative capacity, heritage resources, and the enhancement of landscape and recreational values. The Country Parks Ordinance (Cap 208) enacted in 1976 established the Country Parks Authority (now called the Country and Marine Parks Authority), whose duty it is to develop and manage Country Parks and Special Areas. Country Parks are designated for the purposes of nature conservation, countryside recreation and outdoor education, while Special Areas are primarily designated for nature conservation purposes. Special Areas are non-leased land with particular scientific, cultural or archaeological features and are designated to help ensure the awareness of their importance. Both types of site are designated and managed by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD).

There are now 23 Country Parks and 15 Special Areas (11 of which lie inside the Parks) in Hong Kong covering 41,582 hectares of land and water surface of reservoirs, amounting to around 38% of the total area of Hong Kong (see Annex A for details on individual Country Parks, Special Areas and their size). Figure 3.2b indicates the location of the Country Parks and Special Areas which form a substantial open space resource in Hong Kong's more rural locations. In addition to the natural resource for passive recreation afforded in these parks by the high quality landscape and ecology, Country Parks are also used for a variety of active sporting pursuits (eg cross country running, orienteering and mountain biking) and for recreational activities such as hiking, camping, barbecueing and angling. Special Areas are less accessible than Country Parks although picnic facilities are provided at some locations.


Marine Parks and Reserves The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department is responsible for designating, protecting and managing marine parks and reserves. There are three marine parks (Yan Chau Tong, Hoi Ha Wan and Sha Chau & Lung Kwu Chau), and a marine reserve located at Cape d'Aguilar. The locations of these sites are shown in Figure 3.2c. A summary of the important natural resource features of these sites is provided in Box 3.2a below.

Marine Parks and Reserves are designated under Section 15 of the Marine Parks Ordinance (Cap 476) in recognition of the need to protect and conserve the marine environment given that much of the Hong Kong coastline has been reclaimed or altered for port activity and to accommodate increasing population and economic growth (AFD 1999a). Marine Parks are relatively large areas of sea set aside for conservation and recreation. A Marine Reserve is a smaller area of particularly high conservation value which is reserved for scientific and educational study. Control is more stringent in Reserves where activities such as diving, swimming, canoeing and sailing, which are permitted in Marine Parks, are prohibited.

Box 3.2a Marine Parks and Reserves in Hong Kong
  • Yan Chau Tong Marine Park, designated in July 1996, consists of a marine area of around 680 hectares. It comprises a variety of coastal features including bays, headlands, rock cliffs, sandspits and beaches - features which create diversified beach types ranging from mudflats to rocky shore (see Section 4 for further details on these habitats in Hong Kong). The Park also has a number of fringing coral reefs along its shallow shores which support species such as the common starfish (Archaster typicus) and at Lai Chi Wo, the rare marine eel grass, Zostera japonica. It is also a spawning and nursery ground for commercially important fisheries.

  • Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park is a sheltered bay on the northern coast of the Sai Kung peninsula, covering around 260 hectares. The Park is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the sheltered, good quality marine waters give rise to a flourishing coral community. The majority of recorded local stony coral species (39 out of 50) can be found in this area including Pavona decussata, Platygyra sinensis, Porites lobata, Alveopora irregularis and Cyphastrea serailia. This Park was designated in July 1996.

  • Sha Chau and Lung Kwu Chau Marine Park is situated in the open waters of western Hong Kong and covers a sea area of around 1,200 hectares. The Park, designated in November 1996, is part of the sea area where the Indo-Pacific hump-backed Dolphin (or Chinese White Dolphin as it is locally known) Sousa chinensis are most often found. The area also supports important resources of marine fish and shrimps.

  • Cape d'Aguilar Marine Reserve, designated in July 1996, is located at the furthest south east corner of Hong Kong island and extends to around 20 hectares of rocky coastline. Various gorgonian corals and stony corals and other rare species are found in the Reserve which is also a spawning and nursery ground for fish species such as rock fish and cuttlefish.

Source: AFD (1999a) There is the potential for further parks/reserves to be designated in the near future, with four sites at Ping Chau, Shelter Island, South Lamma and South-west Lantau currently under consideration (AFD 1998). The Country and Marine Parks Board has recently identified the Ping Chau and South Lantau areas as priorities for Marine Park/Reserve designation and a commitment was made in the 1999 Policy Address to designate Ping Chau as a Marine Park/Reserve by the end of 2001 (AFCD, pers comm).


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Last Revision Date : 26 March 2002