Over 30 environmental groups, which together form the “Save Our Country Parks” alliance, are asking members of the public to visit country parks, register their location and upload selfies onto social media in an upcoming campaign.

The first “Country Parks Appreciation Day” will take place on December 13. Volunteers stationed at the 18 country parks across Hong Kong will assist visitors in taking pictures and uploading them onto Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag #SaveOurCountryParks. They will also perform a count of the number of people who visit the parks.

Save Our Country Parks
Photo: Save Our Country Parks 保衛郊野公園 via Facebook.

The alliance, whose members include Designing Hong Kong, Green Sense and WWF, organises activities “to raise public awareness about the importance of maintaining a balance between development and environmental conservation.” They also support proposals which recognise the value of the country parks and promote sustainable development.

Designing Hong Kong convenor Paul Zimmerman told Apple Daily that he hoped the campaign will encourage more people to go to the parks and to speak up for them. Former Hong Kong Observatory director Lam Chiu-ying said that country parks were common resources that belonged to everyone in Hong Kong. “People are happy when they see nature – there’s no reason to take that away from us,” he said.

Country parks in Hong Kong. Photo: Wikicommons.
Country parks in Hong Kong. Photo: Wikicommons.

Liber Research Community member Chan Kim-ching said that the government blames the shortage of land for  the city’s housing problems, but fails to address the issue of uneven allocation of land. Earlier, the group also pointed out that the government has huge reserves of vacant land left for building homes for local indigenous males under the New Territories Small House Policy.

In November, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said that parts of country parks should be built upon to provide housing for young people. The relationship between country parks and land for housing was like that of a “fish and bear’s paw”, he said, and one cannot have it all. In response, Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po stated once again that he will not consider developing the land in country parks during his term of office.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.