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Geopark officers must love nature and people

Not many Hong Kongers had heard about geo-conservation before the opening of the Hong Kong Geopark in 2009, but the topic was nothing new for nature-lover Brian Tang (below), project officer at the Tai Po Geo Heritage Centre.

Tang's main job is to educate the Hong Kong public on the importance of geo-conservation, largely through site visits. Project officers such as Tang are required to have a degree in geology or an environmental science-related discipline. They must also be physically fit and familiar with first aid.

"The outdoor environment can be very tough, with hot summers and freezing winters. A project officer has to be able to cope with it," says Tang. 

Geo-tourists come from diverse backgrounds, usually from schools, non-government groups, companies and the general public, he adds. 

When project officers are not out on tours, they are in the office, doing administration work. "We have to answer public enquiries about geo-conservation and help set up tours," says Tang. "We have to handle tasks like arranging transportation and managing volunteers to help out." 

The official working hours are from 9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday, and a half-day on Saturdays. On Sundays, the busiest day, officers have to take turns to be tour guides. 

Fresh graduates usually start as an assistant project officer. Subsequent steps are project officer, senior project officer and centre manager.

Project officers help in the operations, while a centre manager plays a supervisory and management role. The manager also makes public appearances at geo-conservation events hosted by the centre.

"Hong Kong has a world class geo-park," Tang says. "Geo-conservation is just starting, but I see a bright future in it."