Green Lungs of Hong Kong

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Watering the plants in Shatin Park

On one of those smoggy days when you’re stuck in the crowds on Nathan Road, choking on diesel fumes and looking in vain for a bit of relief, it’s pretty hard to believe that country parks, city parks and natural areas make up more than half of Hong Kong’s landmass. It certainly makes you wonder that in a city surrounded by verdant hills and dotted by leafy rest areas, why do good parks seem so far away?

“There’s a bit of debate going around about whether or not we need more urban parks, but it’s never come together in a formal sense, so that’s what we’re trying to do here,” says Paul Zimmerman, one of the founders of Designing Hong Kong, an urban development watchdog that will co-present a discussion on the topic in this year’s City Festival.

In The Green Lungs of Hong Kong, a panel of officials from the government’s Leisure and Cultural Services and Agricultural and Fisheries departments, urban planning experts, and representatives from Hong Kong’s various green groups, will discuss whether access to country parks should be limited or encouraged, if Hong Kong needs more urban parks, and whether the parks it does have are accessible and well-designed.

“There’s pressure on land resources, especially now that we’ve decided to halt further [land] reclamation,” says Zimmerman. “The reality is that we’re not going to have any new land in the core area. Even if I might want to see more green spaces, that isn’t going to be easy to achieve. I think we can do more to get some more green in various places, more grass, green roof, green walls. Face it, people spending their lives in narrow streets face a sense of pressure. When there’s open space there’s a bit of breathing room and a chance to relax your mind.”

Zimmerman promises a lively debate about the role of parks in the city. Hopefully, for the city’s leaders, it will be a chance to hear new ideas; for concrete-weary city-dwellers, it might be one step closer to a breath of fresh air.

Another version of this preview was published in the January 7th issue of Time Out Hong Kong.

This entry was written by Christopher DeWolf , posted on Thursday January 08 2009at 11:01 am , filed under Asia Pacific, Environment, Politics and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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