Geopark pioneer wins Hong Kong award

2 July 2012

Young Ng in the Hong Kong geopark.
Young Ng in the Hong Kong geopark.

Forty minutes by taxi from the shopping malls and finance houses of Hong Kong is a world that escapes the attention of most visitors.

Scattered across the islands of the New Territories, shaped over millions of years by volcanic and tidal activity, is a series of spectacular geological sites topped off by a display of gigantic rock columns on High Island.

The region was inaugurated as a national geopark in 2009, and was designated by UNESCO as a global geopark worthy of the highest level of protection and conservation in 2011. It is now part of a global network of 88 geoparks across 26 countries, including the Kanawinka geopark in South Australia/Victoria.

Dr Young Ng, a driving force behind the geopark and a University of Sydney alumnus, was today awarded a Medal of Honour by the Hong Kong SAR for his work on the project and on geoconservation.

Dr Ng graduated from the University in May 2012 with a PhD in Geosciences after completing his thesis on geoparks and geotourism. He studied two geoparks in China - at Leiqiong and Danxiashan - and applied lessons learned from the case studies to help the Hong Kong geopark earn national and global recognition.

"Most visitors to Hong Kong are unaware that these features exist, but our aim is to conserve them through our focus on education and the sustainable development of the geopark," he said.

Hiking trails have been developed that link the sites; guides and boat tours are available; there is a geopark exhibition at the Bank of China headquarters in Hong Kong and even a geopark tv channel in tourist hotels.

Education about the site is being promoted through a website, an innovative schools program and a museum.

Dr Ng first became aware of the area's geological importance as a teenager hiking around the region, and later studied geography and geology at Hong Kong University. He teaches geotourism in Hong Kong, and began to develop the idea of a geopark with friends in 2005.

He has also lived in Sydney since 2000, and chose to study for his PhD at the University because "it's the best and the oldest in Australia".

Associate Professor Phil McManus, who supervised his PhD with Associate Professor Deirdre Dragovich, said: "We are pleased that his research at the University, and particularly his work on sustainable development, has contributed towards the success of the geopark and towards the recognition he is receiving today."

Contact: Richard North

Phone: 02 9351 3191

Email: 223817092237161d340c3535246b1a163c5b3452485d112154150c