A Longitudinal Investigation of Urban Park Management in Hong Kong: A Managerial Perspective
Keywords:Importance, indicators, park managers, performance, sustainability, urban parks
Urban park management is key for urban green spaces to achieve their functions of ecosystem services and sustainability. While the complex management-user relationship is often a challenge for user conflicts and resource depletion in urban parks nowadays, park managers have also had changing management expectations and perceptions over the years. To understand the trend of management held by urban park managers and the changing importance and performance of different park resources and characteristics, it is essential to investigate park managers’ perceptions regarding areas of their concern. Specifically, these areas can be represented by indicators that allow park managers to consider selecting, applying, measuring and monitoring park conditions periodically.
This paper presents a longitudinal study on the perceptions of urban park managers in Hong Kong through a comparison of their importance and the performance ratings of selected indicators, which captured findings from two previous studies in 2004 and 2012, respectively. With an updated list of indicators from literature review and a modified Delphi screening process by park managers, academics and park users reported in a previous study, the refined indicator items were presented to park managers with a structured questionnaire-based survey in each round of opinion collection and ratings.
The results show that urban park management in Hong Kong has emphasized resource and environmental dimensions such as physical features and hardware facilities in parks. Over the years, urban park managers have possessed a clear set of management objectives to enhance the park environment, landscaping and other physical conditions, but are confined to these controllable or manageable tasks within their park’s jurisdiction. Park managers have found it increasingly difficult to handle complaints, or to engage park users and surrounding communities. It is recommended that urban park authorities should break through their administrative nature and encourage more public and community engagement with urban park settings and management.
In the case of Hong Kong’s urban parks, the dominant operative management approach is largely similar to the major constraint of urban parks worldwide. It is strongly advised that more public and community engagement should be encouraged to add more elements such as art and creativity, smart recreation and innovative design to urban park settings and management. This involves a gradual administrative breakthrough especially in the apparent silo form of park management and operation in Hong Kong.
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