Subject: development, environmental affairs, country park, green belt, conservation

Categories of protected areas in Hong Kong

Concerns over the land use of country parks

Prepared by CHEUNG Chi-fai
Research Office
Information Services Division
Legislative Council Secretariat
8 December 2016


1.At the Panel on Environmental Affairs on 28 April 2008, a Member raised that consideration should be given to developing tourism facilities or residential housing on less ecologically important part of country parks. Some Members also raised questions at the Legislative Council meeting of 26 October 2011 and 16 October 2013 on government plans to reduce the size of country parks for housing development as well as plans to study developing undeveloped land in Hong Kong. On the latter two occasions, the Government said it had no such plans.

2.The concept of country park could be traced back to the mid-1960s when Dr Lee Talbot, an renowned international conservation expert, was invited to visit Hong Kong and conduct a survey which led to a report filed to the Government of that time. The report called for the establishment of several country parks.

3.About 70% of land in Lantau is designated as country parks, compared with 38% on Hong Kong Island, 37% in the New Territories and 3% in Kowloon. There are also 5 000 hectares of Hong Kong Global Geopark which are originally part of country parks and special areas, or newly designated as special areas.

4.The Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines are a Government manual of criteria for determining the scale, location and site requirements of various land uses and facilities. This manual, developed by an interdepartmental committee, is applied in planning studies, preparation and revision of town plans and development control.

5.There are two other restricted areas, namely Sham Wan on Lamma Island and Yim Tso Ha in North District.

6.The Country and Marine Parks Board was set up under the Country Parks Ordinance and Marine Parks Ordinance. With members appointed by the Government, its key function is to consider and advise the Director of AFCD on country and marine parks policy and programmes. Another function is to consider objections against proposed designation of country and marine parks.

7.According to a note issued by AFCD in June 2012, small house development may be considered on suitable sites, such as within the village environs of a recognized village, in country parks.

8.The conservation value is determined by species diversity, degree of naturalness and rarity etc. Landscape value can be qualitatively assessed based on degree of naturalness and scenic quality etc.

9.The statement was made by the Secretary for the Environment when he moved the second reading of Country Parks Bill on 7 January 1976. Please refer to Official Record of Proceedings of the Legislative Council of that date.

10.In 1991, the then China Light & Power built its overhead power cables in Tai Lam Country Park. In the mid 1990s, Towngas also built its gas pipes in the same country park. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a developer was granted approval to occupy part of the Pat Sin Leng Country Park for a golf course project in Sha Lo Tung. The approval was subsequently overturned by the court. In 2008, an equestrian and education centre was allowed to be set up in Clear Water Bay Country Park.

11.Director of Audit Report No. 61.

12.While the Government and the Legislative Council had opposing views on that, the Government did not take further action against the repeal motion which was endorsed by the Council.

13.See Endnote 1.

14.There are calls to the Government proposing the establishment of a platform to review the boundary of country parks in an objective and scientific way. Yet, there are also calls for further expanding country parks to areas of so called country park enclaves which are areas surrounded by the parks.


1.Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. (2012) Note on the Use or Development of Land within Country Park Enclave after Inclusion into a Country Park.

2.Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (2016).

3.Country and Marine Parks Board (2016).

4.Department of Justice Bilingual Laws Information System (2016).

5.Director of Audit. (2013) Director of Audit Report No. 61.

6.Historical Laws of Hong Kong Online (2016).

7.Hong Kong Institute of Planners (2016).

8.Lai Pun Sung v The Director of Agriculture, Fishers and Conservation [2009] HCAL 83.

9.Official Record of Proceedings of the Legislative Council. (1976) 7 January.

10.Official Record of Proceedings of the Legislative Council. (2010) 13 October.

11.Planning Department (2016).

12.Planning Department. (2010) Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines.

13.Planning Department. (2016) Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines.

14.Save our Country Parks (2016).

15.Tang, B.S. (2012) Land Use Zoning and Land Supply in Hong Kong.

16.Town Planning Board (2016).

17.Water Supplies Department (2016).

18.Wong, F.Y. (2013) HK Country parks: from where they come to where they go.