To help develop the recommendations of the study, a series of public engagement activities, including stakeholders’ interviews, public opinion surveys and engagement workshops were conducted at various stages of the study to gather and generate ideas on options to enhance the potential for recreation and nature education in the country parks and special areas of Hong Kong.
Interviews with Stakeholders
63 key stakeholders were interviewed between May and August 2017. They came from a wide range of sectors, including hiking and outdoor recreation associations, the eco-tourism sector, academia, relevant non-governmental organisations, green groups, youth groups, professional bodies and cultural and heritage organisations (Annex B).
Many respondents placed utmost importance on education to encourage appropriate visitor attitudes and sustainable behaviour towards appreciating and respecting nature. Major comments such as providing a comprehensive information platform (e.g. a “one-stop” information centre) and promoting conservation of biodiversity and landscape were raised by many respondents at the interviews.
Whilst there was some diverse views expressed by stakeholders, many common concerns were repeatedly voiced out. All respondents generally advocated that protection of the natural environment within the country parks and special areas should be prioritised over recreational or educational uses. Other comments raised include strengthening the promotion of conservation and enhancing the existing facilities to improve user experience. All respondents recognised the need for greater resources to be committed to the country parks, and in particular, increased staffing to optimise future use of the country parks.
Public Opinion Survey
Public opinion surveys were conducted in November and December 2017 at representative locations in urban areas as well as country parks to collect views of the general public and country park users respectively on the preliminary options identified in the earlier stage of the study. More than 2 000 valid questionnaires were collected. The respondents indicated their preferences on the preliminary options across four broad categories, namely overnight facilities, adventurous activities, leisure and educational activities, as well as other ancillary facilities.
The survey respondents of the public survey are generally supportive of the enhancement options and have chosen their preferred options in the four categories. These activities and facilities are listed in the table at the right.
Key stakeholders were invited to attend two engagement workshops in March 2018. The aims of the workshops were to share the results of the opinion survey and solicit further views and comments of the participants on the preliminary options. The stakeholders at the workshops generally agreed to most of the preliminary options and raised concerns and suggestions from a practical perspective. For instance, they were concerned about the newly proposed activities such as glamping sites at country parks and special areas, as well as the feasibility of grass sliding and canopy walk. Views gathered at the workshops were useful in shortlisting enhancement proposals which could be adopted under the Hong Kong context. Nevertheless, all attendees generally advocated that any options proposed should not compromise the conservation objectives of the country parks and special areas. They also suggested that more financial resources and manpower should be provided for improved management of the parks.