The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) will be introducing measures so as to prevent Hong Kong Global Geopark of China from getting a warning from the Global Network of National Geoparks, Ming Pao reported on Monday.
The global network operates under the umbrella of UNESCO. This Saturday at a meeting in Japan they will decide whether the New Territories Geopark is still eligible to continue its membership. Assessment takes place every four years, and parks which do not match the requirements of the network will receive a warning. A park will lose membership if two warnings are received. Hong Kong, which joined the network in 2011, will be assessed this year.
According to Senior Geopark Officer Yeung Ka-ming, the park will be assessed on eight aspects such as the education value they offer to schools, their approach to conservation and management, the quality of their visitor centres, their information accessibility, their participation in the local community, their relationship with the global network, and more. Yeung said that the AFCD will be pushing out three measures to upgrade the park. Firstly, the department will be setting up an education centre on Tung Ping Chau where local residents will be trained as guides so as to boost the local economy. However, Yueng adds that this will depends on the willingness of local residents. Ming Pao reported that currently there are only around a dozen residents permanently residing on Tung Ping Chau, due to the fact that the island lacks a electricity and water supply.
Yeung also said that transport links to High Island Reservoir, possibly via electric coaches from the Sai Kung town centre, will be enhanced to tackle the problem of declining visitors. Lastly, $100m will be spent on improving the pier facilities on Kiu Tsui Island, which could also develop the Sai Kung fishing port into a resort area.
An AFCD spokesman said the Hong Kong Geopark of China has not imposed any new restrictions on the area; rather, it brought with it an opportunity to improve the local transport network and infrastructure. He also said that the department will support local residents in meeting their basic needs, so long as they did not harm the natural habitat.
The Hong Kong Geopark comprises eight Geo-Areas distributed across the Sai Kung Volcanic Rock Region and Northeast New Territories Sedimentary Rock Region. Highlights include the Ninepin Group islands, a unique hand-like rock formation and the photogenic hexagonal volcanic tuffs around the East Dam of High Island Reservoir.