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Country park management strategies

30 December, 2014 - 12:45

The HKSAR is blessed with 41,000 hectares of country parks. This translates to Hong Kong having 63.7m2 of country park per person. Of course, the people of Hong Kong and its numerous visitors will not go into a country park and occupy 'their' 63.7 m2. This park area per person idea was presented to underscore one of the outstanding ecological services performed by plants which are essential parts of the vegetated ecosystems which make up and maintain the extensive country park system. As you can easily imagine, 41,000 ha is a huge area to manage. A typical small Hong Kong apartment with one kitchen area, a living room, toilet/bathroom and two small bedrooms is about 620 ft2, which is only 57.6m2, or therefore 0.576% of one hectare: very, very small. It takes some regular and well-planned effort to manage (to look after) a small apartment. To look after 41,000 ha or 410 square kilometers is no easy task.

Park managers are charged with the stewardship of 41,000 ha of varied landscape, dynamic geomorphology, many different types of habitat, 1,920 species of native flowering plants, 360 bryophytes (mosses and liverworts), 215 ferns , 450 birds and 50 mammals and many other vertebrates , numerous invertebrates (30,000+) all distributed within a whole range of ecosystems at many stages of ecological succession, rehabilitation and health. To this known biodiversity we can add the inadequately studied, the ignored and the unknown. Included in this latter category are the decomposers: those ecologically vital organisms described as bacteria and fungi and studied by microbiologists and mycologists. There are substantial numbers of macro and microscopic fungi in Hong Kong but only a minority have been studied. Likewise, very few bacteria (and most are not pathogenic i.e. harmful disease-causing) have been studied in ecological terms where they, with the fungi, perform essential functions as decomposers in biogeochemical cycles. This lack of study is evident in the currently available data from the biodiversity survey of Hong Kong as even a quick inspection of this data in this Activity 1.1 will reveal.