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Temporary closure of barbecue sites and campsites in country parks (Updated on 15 September)

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) announced that, in light of the latest developments of COVID-19, all country park barbecue sites and campsites continue to be closed until further notice. AFCD's public facilities, including Hong Kong Wetland Park, Country Park Visitor/Education Centres, Hong Kong Geopark Visitor Centres and the Endangered Species Resource Centre, resume normal operation from 14 September. But Tai Po Geoheritage Centre at Sam Mun Tsai, Woodside Biodiversity Education Centre at Quarry Bay and some exhibition halls at Lions Nature Education Centre at Sai Kung which are under maintenance remain closed until further notice. For details, please visit AFCD's website  

Be aware of Poisonous Mushrooms!

People in Hong Kong have recently showed increasing interest in searching for mushrooms in the wild or by the roadside. Most nature lovers are curious about the myriad shapes, sizes, colors and forms of mushrooms, while others are interested in edibility of mushrooms. Because mushrooms are pretty difficult to tell apart and the edibility of many mushrooms is still unknown, people should never try tasting any wild mushrooms collected themselves. Things to remember for appreciating mushrooms: 1. Do not eat mushrooms picked from country parks or natural environments. Mushroom species are extremely diverse, and their morphology is always ambiguous and the edibility is largely unknown. 2. Do not eat mushrooms from roadside planting areas or urban parks since planting soil may be contaminated with heavy metals, poisonous pollutants or pesticides. 3. Do not trust any folklore, such as simple tests or colors, for edibility. The deadly poisonous mushrooms are unremarkably white, yellow-brown or brown. 4. Do not eat raw mushrooms picked from the wild and in supermarket. Some chemical compounds in raw mushrooms, such as hydrazines, may make you sick. 5. Many mushrooms that have combined features of a membranous ring or large volva on the stalk, scales or warts on the surface of the cap are poisonous. 6. Wash your hands thoroughly after touching any mushrooms in the wild. 7. If you experience symptoms of poisoning, consult a doctor or go to a hospital immediately. Take the uncooked mushrooms with you and give them to your doctor.   Click here to know more about the nine most common poisonous mushrooms and identify those morphological features, associated toxins and onset of mushroom poisoning symptoms.

Mountain bike trails in South Lantau

During weekends, many people like to go cycling with their friends. But are you cyclists interested in cycling on rugged hilly terrains, dirt roads or even gravel paths? Currently, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department has set up 15 designated mountain bike trails in country parks for mountain biking activities, three of which are located in south Lantau. One of the largest training grounds in Asia The CEDD has implemented improvement and expansion works for the mountain bike trail networks in south Lantau in phases. Chief Engineer of the Sustainable Lantau Office (SLO), Ms LAU Yiu-yan, Joyce, said that the first phase of the works aims mainly to improve the existing sections from Pui O to Kau Ling Chung and Chi Ma Wan for safer and better riding experience through strengthened control of soil erosion. The second phase of the works focuses on the construction of a new mountain bike training ground of about 4.5 hectares near Lai Chi Yuen Tsuen, which will become one of the largest training grounds in the Asian region, and on the expansion of several trails at the Mui Wo and Chi Ma Wan sections to form a circular network. Providing trails of different riding difficulties We found at the site that the construction of the training ground was nearing completion. Engineer of the SLO, Mr PANG Siu-tuen, Walter, said that the training ground provides trails of different riding difficulties for beginner, intermediate and advanced cyclists. Beginners can start with undulating trails, and then progress to a narrow skinny that allows only one bike to go through at a time. Different facilities cater for different levels of riders. To add more fun to the trails, the training ground was specially built with trails of different technical features, including berms, jumps, rock garden, switchback turns and pump tracks. For that purpose, the CEDD had specially invited an expert rider to help with the design. The Singaporean trail specialist of the International Mountain Bicycling Association, Mr H.M. LIM, gave live demonstrations and explained that trails of different challenging levels and features are normally designed to suit the actual site conditions. During construction, the design team had tried a range of options while developing different trails. Sustainable project design The Engineer, Mr Walter PANG, said that as the mountain bike trails in south Lantau fall within the country park area, their designs are all in line with the sustainable construction principle. For instance, the alignment has been designed to follow the terrains to avoid tree felling as far as possible so as to retain the original look of the country park; natural materials that are locally available have been used in projects such as the rock garden in the training ground that were laid with rocks collected from construction sites; hand tools or small machines have been used to avoid causing environmental damage, etc. In addition, as the tiny Romer’s tree frogs, a species unique to Hong Kong, were found on the site during construction, the original gathering place for riders was redesigned and relocated somewhere far away from the tree frogs. Furthermore, our colleagues have considered ways to extend the life cycle of the trails and reduce their need for maintenance. For instance, crossfall has been used as far as possible to drain away the surface runoff, and crushed stones have been placed at suitable locations to improve drainage performance, which will in turn prevent soil erosion and safeguard the users of mountain bike trails. Promoting healthy living The training ground has been already opened to the public. With its opening, the training ground will not only host training for beginners, but also provide mountain bike trails that meet the international standard for holding competition events, which can help nurture more local bikers and promote the development of mountain biking in Hong Kong. Hope that the novice, expert and enthusiastic riders will all make good use of the new training ground and the existing mountain bike trails in south Lantau, and enjoy the fun of mountain biking while taking pleasure in the beautiful, natural scenery of the country park. (The video is broadcasted in Cantonese) (The video is provided by Development Bureau)

Don't enjoy feeding monkeys

Some people enjoy feeding monkeys, some worry that the monkeys are starving in the wild and they want to help them by feeding. However, they are not aware of its negative consequences to both monkeys and people, such as: - Becoming dependent on humans for food and lost their foraging instincts;- Becoming overpopulated, causing the ecosystem unbalanced;- Losing natural fear to humans, even snatching plastic bags or food held by people; and- Causing nuisance to the residents in the nearby areas. Statutory ProtectionMonkeys are protected wild animals in Hong Kong. Under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap. 170), except in accordance with a special permit, no person shall hunt, willfully disturb, sell or in his possession of any protected wild animals taken from Hong Kong. Upon conviction, the maximum penalty is a fine of HK$100,000 and imprisonment for one year. Kam Shan, Lion Rock and Shing Mun Country Parks, part of Tai Mo Shan Country Park, Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve, a section of Tai Po Road parallel to Caldecott Road and Piper's Hill section of Tai Po Road are specified places under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap. 170) at which the feeding of any wild animals are prohibited. The implementation of feeding ban is intended to reduce the monkeys' reliance on human feeding, and to make the monkeys revert to foraging in the countryside on their own. Anyone contravening the feeding restriction is liable to a maximum fine of HK$10,000 upon conviction. The AFCD arranges regular patrol at the feeding ban area, and will take immediate prosecution actions against anyone who has fed monkeys or other wild animals. Monkey Contraceptive ProgrammeSince 2007, AFCD has regularly arranged monkey contraceptive operations for monkeys in Kam Shan, Lion Rock and Shing Mun Country Parks. AFCD also monitors the changes in monkey populations so as to control their number in the long run. According to the population monitoring, the birth rate of monkeys in Kam Shan, Lion Rock and Shing Mun Country Parks has noticeably decreased from about 78% in 2008 to about 35% in recent years. The total number of monkeys has dropped by more than 23% from 2008 to 2016, and has maintained at about 1,650 from 2014 to 2016. AFCD continues to monitor the changes of monkey populations and perform neutering treatments for more monkeys.

Before Go Camping

Once you have decided to go camping, the first thing to do is to choose the site and to plan the duration of your stay, the equipment to take, and the amount of food that you will need, well in advance. The following guidelines may help.LocationCheck the location and site of the site and plan your route to it. The camp sites within the Country Parks are on a “first-come-first-served” basis, so during weekends and public holidays when many campers will be competing for limited facilities, you are advised to arrive at the camp sites early. Please remember that under the Country Park and Special Area Regulations, you are not allowed to camp other than in a designated camp site which can be identified by the sign boards erected by the Country and Marine Parks Authority.The rucksackYour rucksack should be spacious, of good shape and very strong. In packing a rucksack, you should remember the principle of last in last in first out, things like raincoat, windbreaker or poncho should be placed on the uppermost part. It is desirable to fill up all the empty spaces with plastic bags, newspaper or clothing.The centre of gravity should preferably be located near the top of the rucksack. All these will make it more comfortable for you to carry.The tentA good tent is one that is strong enough to protect you against the elements. It should have a waterproof ground sheet, mosquito netting and a flysheet.ClothingTake some spare clothing for wet or cold weather and some spare plastic bags to keep clothes dry.EquipmentBlanket/sleeping bags, cooking and eating utensils are basic items. Don’t forget to take a mini-sized radio with you, plus a whistle; a map (the countryside series are very useful); a torch and spare batteries (never use a gas lantern inside the tent); a sharp pocket knife; spare guy ropes and a first aid kit. Pitching the campLay out the tent with the rear fully to the direction of the wild. Use the strongest tent pegs for the main guys. Pegs should be pushed into the ground at 45o away from the tent and the guys made as long as possible. If the ground sheet is not sewn-in, it should be positioned entirely inside the tent so that water cannot run off the tent onto the ground sheet.CookingFire is a major hazard to both the tent and the countryside. When the red fire danger signal is in force use dry provisions and do not light any fire. Always cook outside the tent, in the fire places provided.HygieneBoil stream water drinking and make sure that the source from which the water is taken is clean. SecurityCamping in remote sites should be carried out in groups of not less than five persons. It is advisable to inform the nearest police station of your intention to camp and the location of camp site you plan to use.EmergenciesBe prepared for emergencies. You should know your area well and know the nearest police station. Always take a first aid kit with you and make sure that someone in your group knows how to use it and administer first aid.If any accident occurs, do not panic - stay together, keep calm, take stock of your situation and decide what to do. Cool heads and common sense will be your greatest assets.In the case of a serious injury, keep the patient comfortable, give first aid and only move him if it is essential. Send someone to the nearest point (the nearest telephone/ police station/country park management centre) for help. If your party is larger than four, send two people with a written message. It is important that the message is written because your messengers may arrive tired or exhausted and a verbal message will be garbled and unintelligible. The message must be written before the messengers leave and must contain full information such as the location, time, nature of the accident, the number of persons injured and weather conditions. Leave the SiteRemember to remove all pegs. Stones for securing the tent should also be removed.Refill any holes and extinguish all fires. Last but not least, remember to remove all rubbish. When you leave the campsite,apart from the marks of crushed grass where tents have been pitched, there should be no other signs that you have been there.Country CodeGet to know the Country Code, which tells you all you need to know about what you should and should not do in the countryside:Do not destroy by fire or vandalismDo not spoil with litter and dirtDo not pollute water catchment areas, streams or reservoirsDo not destroy vegetation and wildlife (For more details, please click here to read the Camping Guide provided by Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department)