Malayan porcupines, leopard cats, and black-faced spoonbills also enjoy refuge in these parks. Hong Kong is just a wonderful model system of what can be done, "I kind of dream of an elephant-proof fence across a narrow path of the Sai Kung Peninsula and then reintroducing elephants in Sai Kung," says Corlett. But this vibrancy is only a fraction of the wildlife that existed thousands of years ago, when lush green forests covered much of the land, and bears, elephants and rhinoceroses roamed freely. The community plays a significant role in our tree management work. In fact, an ambitious project in Hong Kong recently started where urban dwellers moved to the remote 300-year-old Hakka village of Lai Chi Wo located within the Hong Kong … In addition to the reforestation plot, members will also have the opportunity of visiting KFBG's Wild Animal Rescue Centre (WARC), where injured wildlife, endangered species and animals rescued from illegal trade are treated. This is where biochar comes into the story. When the first trees are planted, the grasslands are often dry, exposed and open to wind and strong sunshine. Hong Kong Search Data Indicate Unease, Migration Plans Among Middle Class 2020-12-17. In the case of carbon offsetting programs, the planting of trees occurs in a location different from where the company’s greenhouse gas emissions originate. KFBG conducted a world-wide search for suitable technology and identified the CharMaker MPP20 produced by Earth Systems as a size class and price point that would best suit their requirements. About two-thirds of its forests are protected in these areas since then. The aqueous fraction, sometimes called “wood vinegar”, may have numerous agricultural applications, from enhancing germination rates to acting as a pesticide. A vision of a reforested Hong Kong would not be possible without you. The water, nutrient holding capacity and structure of biochar was appealing for helping with tree establishment. The hillsides of KFBG were not spared the impacts of historical deforestation, and significant efforts of restoring these highland zones have occurred over the past few decades, but with limited success. It's probably not practical to have elephants in Hong Kong again. Reforestation programs can be divided into two broad categories: 'offsetting' and 'insetting' programs. The biochar is now being used as part of the forest restoration work, helping improve the structure of the soil, enhance its nutrient and water holding capacity as well as helping prevent erosion. It produces 25,000 seedlings every year, which can be used for forest restoration. Keyword searches on emigration and offshore bank accounts have … Hong Kong. By 2013, the forests covered about 26,400 hectares, about 23.8% of Hong Kong's total land area. After the British leased the New Territories, Government reforestation was expanded (typically with the plantation of Pinus spp) such as that in the 1910s around Kowloon Reservoirs. Forested slopes prevent soil erosion and landslides, and the rich woodland tapestry provides habitats for animals. Both factors impact the bird and rodent populations. These protected areas are now home to a vast array of flora and fauna: some 3,300 species of vascular plants, 57 terrestrial mammals, 546 birds and hundreds of butterflies and dragonflies. Hong Kong may be the earliest tropical example of large-scale afforestation for environmental reasons. Established in 1956, the KFBG site is one of Hong Kong's little known jewels. The impact of WWII saw these efforts temporally undone, but post war efforts saw reforestation programmes resume and continue to present day. To avoid this, the researchers are finding ways to get moisture-loving trees to grow on dry slopes, for instance by using props like tree guards, protective shelters and shading nets. "These were the only forests that could actually remain during the war times," says Lai. "To make the forest work, eventually one has to reintroduce certain species of animals," Fischer says. "This is very unique in Hong Kong, because the natural succession only favours a few species, not the vast majority," Fischer says. The landfill disposal of large amounts of unprocessed biomass is prohibitively expensive in HKG and so this represented a significant challenge for the botanic garden. As well as being cultural icons of traditional Chinese villages, these woods are now ecological treasure-houses. As well, the CharMaker was installed with the standard on-line connectivity package – this enables KFBG continue to operate the CharMaker FPP20 with on-line monitoring and control (as needed) from Earth Systems engineers in Australia. Your Team Reforestation Day Participants will learn about Hong Kong’s ongoing tree restoration project, the value of native trees, how other plant species can contribute a healthy forest and carry out hands-on planting of tree seedlings on the hill slopes and/or other native species which may help to the young woodlands to become healthier. However, deforestation has still taken its toll. The new program builds on smaller test projects and has now moved to a full-scale program to convert the woody weeds to biochar, and then utilise the biochar on the mountain sides to help with restorative efforts. Then humans arrived on Hong Kong's highest peak, cutting … Earth Systems are still actively involved in the project with ongoing site visits for support. Reforestation on Lantau Island March 2012 │ Hong Kong 25 Global Business Services and Finance employees pulled themselves from their beds on an early Sunday morning to plant trees on Lantau Island, the largest island in Hong Kong. KFBG are also investigating the use of heat generation from the thermal oxidiser unit to try and make the process more sustainable and obtain not only char and useful liquids from the process but also a source of energy. When most of us think of Hong Kong, we think of a densely-packed city. "This is one of the reasons why the government started planting trees around Hong Kong.". A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Earth, Culture, Capital, Travel and Autos, delivered to your inbox every Friday. In Hong Kong’s early colonial days, the government was keen on making the city a much greener place. However, to implement a solution that could cover an entire mountain top with biochar a large scale solution was always envisaged. During the Japanese occupation in the Second World War, the countryside was deforested as the remaining population required fuel to survive. Summer is … By 2013, the forests covered about 26,400 hectares, about 23.8% of Hong Kong's total land area – and about 20% more than they did just after World War Two. Nevertheless, they serve as inspiration for conservationists who are looking to reforest the land. "This allows us now to investigate natural forest succession and we would like to use that information, to actually apply it in the restoration work," Fischer says. Which like a slope? But even with this knowledge, reforestation can still run into problems. During the year, our News Unit issued over 100 press releases and arranged 65 press briefings and interviews, providing news, views and detailed information on our new policies, developments and initiatives. The results of these efforts were that by the Second World War, there had been significant reforestation in certain areas of Hong Kong. By the end of the war, small patchy forests covered less than 4% of the land, "Already, the forest was probably in not-so-good shape," says Gunter Fischer, head of the flora conservation department at Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden in Hong Kong. The machine incorporated innovative technology such as a built in drier unit which utilises heat from the thermal oxidiser to dry out other wet biomass to make it more suitable for pyrolysis in the main unit (or for kiln drying other materials). But once the canopy closes, conditions can be moist and humid. is appealing for KFBG and meets their sustainability criteria. A species which liked the dry conditions in the first place might not like it any more once you get the forest canopy closed. The ability to produce their own liquid fuel on site (their own bio-refinery!) The windswept underlying granite rocks are scantily covered with soil and are overgrown with grass making tree establishment very difficult. The pesticide effects of wood vinegar were appealing as this natural organic product was enabled for use on the site (as opposed to introduced commercial chemical products), and trials are currently underway for use of this product. These trees quickly re-established vegetation cover on barren hillsides, improving the landscape and preventing further soil erosion. Despite only spanning 423 square miles (1,095 sq km), Hong Kong houses more types of bird, mammal, insect and plant than the whole of the British Isles. So over the next two decades, the government began to build reservoirs for potable water. Early villagers chose to settle in wooded areas. To quickly re-establish forest land cover, conservationists planted hardy and fast-growing species that had special features to cope with the poor soil quality. Then in 2015, the AFCD planted 400,000 tree seedlings in Hong Kong's country parks. KFBG proceeded with a CharMaker FPP20 (fixed pyrolysis plant – 20” container size) solution and this was soon delivered as a fully functioning unit to a prepared site in the botanic garden. Because of the traditional and spiritual value of these forests, the locals take great care to protect them, only harvesting wood for fuel in a sustainable way. • Hong Kong’s natural climax vegetation state is subtropical rainforest. As far as setting aside land for conservation and country parks, there's just nowhere in the world that's done it as well as Hong Kong. "But most of the megafauna disappeared alongside the forest, because once the big trees are gone, canopy-dwelling animals can't survive," Fischer says. Soon the waste biomass was being pyrolysed and large quantities of biochar were being produced – about 1.2 tonne dry basis per batch, or 5 m, For more information on the KFBG project please visit, For more information on the CharMaker unit please visit. For example, 75% includes only areas with more than 75% tree cover, whereas 10% includes all areas with more than 10% tree cover. They contrast sharply with the adjacent regions, where a meagre layer of grass and shrubs covers the topsoil. Department of History, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China Email: rpeckham@hku.hk Abstract This article examines the ‘greening’ of Hong Kong in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with an emphasis on the afforestation of the colony’s ‘barren’ mountainsides from the 1880s. Yet before records began, bears, elephants and rhinoceroses also lived in Hong Kong. Reforestation helps to bring back the deforested area to its original landscapes by increasing the amount of forested land. Nine kilometres of road wind their way up around organic farming terraces, botanic gardens and native forest to the summit of the mountain (Kwun Yum Shan) at over 1800 ft above sea level. The conservationists need all the help they can get, because the first attempts at reforestation did not go entirely to plan. "Deforestation and fragmentation of habitats actually goes back many centuries.". It is possible that some began as preserved fragments of the region's original forest cover. But there are barriers to that. The CharMaker also contains an internal bio-oil collection system composed of numerous fractions and chemicals. A wide variety of educational displays, sustainability features and wildlife rescue facilities complement the extensively landscaped gardens with their cobbled paths, pavilions, bridges, waterfalls and picnic spots. Inside the forests it is dark because towering trees, typically Endospermum and Schima, block the sunlight. For more information on the KFBG project please visit here. Four decades later, conservationists and scientists are still hard at work recreating the lost forests – and with them, Hong Kong's lost wildlife. Before records began, bears, elephants and rhinoceroses also lived in Hong Kong. The biochar added would improve plant growth but also help lock nutrients and moisture in the soil as well as improve its structural properties, aiding in the prevention of erosion. Allocated a significant area of land of over 250 ha this botanical garden is a cool, green forestry reserve for animals - and humans alike! About two-thirds of the forests in Hong Kong are inside these areas, under the statutory protection of the Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department (AFCD). The Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden (KFBG) is a unique botanical gardens tucked away in the highlands of Hong Kong (HKG). These are small forest plots, mostly less than 4 hectares each, that sit next to over 110 villages throughout China. The arrival of British rule saw a concerted effort to implement reforestation programmes in various areas. If you liked this story, sign up for the weekly bbc.com features newsletter called "If You Only Read 6 Things This Week". These monocultures also create poor diversity in the understory and produce dry fruit. However, we must be careful not to translate the need for restoration of our forests into mass reforestation efforts throughout Hong Kong. Established in 1956, the KFBG site is one of Hong Kong's little known jewels. Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau in 1999, the huge underestimation of the forest cover before 1949, and, most importantly, the change in the official definition of forest from 30 % to 20 % canopy cover, which was made in 1994 (Zhang and Song 2006). An in-situ production process was deemed the best solution. "As far as setting aside land for conservation and country parks, there's just nowhere in the world that's done it as well as Hong Kong," says Richard Corlett of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Mengla. The ability of the technology to process woody biomass without the requirement for chipping of the trees was very appealing, saving time, costs and OHS issues for preparing the feedstock. CharMaker and dryer unit in background. "We are learning from nature.". At the moment, the forests have not recovered enough for this problem to be tackled. The CharMaker technology was first deployed in 2011 and has been trialled on over 40 different feedstocks from African Mahogany, hay, to railway sleepers. Their name comes from the Chinese theory for determining the most favourable location of settlements in order to bring good fortune. In 1997, the Kadoorie Farm established a native tree nursery. KFBG also had another problem with large biomass residues from their garden forests and clearance efforts of non-native acacias and eucalypts from their land. It can also reduce erosion and bolster freshwater supplies. The next step is to make the forests self-sustaining. Perhaps the most essential ingredients in a fully sustainable forest are "seed dispersal agents": animals such as birds that carry the trees' seeds around. After World War Two, the first priority was simply to rehabilitate the barren areas. Earth Systems staff travelled to Hong Kong to help train the workers on how to use the machine and now the two workers at the botanic garden are fully trained and able to produce the biochar themselves. For more information on the CharMaker unit please visit here. "The idea [is] that, if you keep the trees at the back of the village, it brings good fortune and health to the villagers.". More than 400 years ago, the upper slopes of Tai Mo Shan were covered in lush, green forest. The design is based on a shipping container layout and is easily transported despite the large amounts of biomass it can handle. Biochar will hopefully support this positive environmental outcome to occur. The Kadoorie Farm scientists also investigate how these species perform, so they can advise tree planting groups about which species would be suitable for a given plot. There certainly would have been elephants in the past, but it's probably not practical to have elephants in Hong Kong again.". Reforestation on Lantau Island March 2012 │ Hong Kong 25 Global Business Services and Finance employees pulled themselves from their beds on an early Sunday morning to plant trees on Lantau Island, the largest island in Hong Kong. To date, histories of Hong Kong have The values of forest change can be easily manipulated to display differing magnitudes of 80% of them were native species. Join over five million BBC Earth fans by liking us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter and Instagram. In this way, they have been able to establish a forest with more than 100 different tree species. Reforestation of Hong Kong is a large intractable problem that the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden is tackling with the help of biochar. Other types of habitat are equally important for biodiversity, and must also be … Reforest'Action allows everyone to plant trees on reforestation projects. Seed dispersal agents are normally things like birds and rodents: small creatures that cannot survive in an open, degraded landscape. 5. "But they swim well, so I think they'd get around the fence. The large volumes of waste woody biomass from the restored forests could be pyrolysed and turned into valuable biochar for addition back to the soil on the mountain tops. No space is wasted: mosses and climbers attach themselves to the tree trunks, wild coffee and Asiatic Ardisia shrubs cluster underneath, and ferns and herbaceous plants carpet the ground. Many of these critters are long gone from Hong Kong. "Hong Kong is just a wonderful model system of what can be done," says Corlett. "They are like primary forests that have been well-developed for a long period of time," says Lai. To get a glimpse of Hong Kong's past richness, scientists need look no further than "feng shui forests". Dr Gunter Fischer, head Flora Conservation Department (KFBG) showing the tree planting trials with biochar on mountain tops up close, Close up of mountain side with biochar trials – larger scale trials are now underway in this area. In 1970s, the government launched a reforestation program and designated about 41% of the land area of Hong Kong as country parks and restricted areas. KFBG launched a programme several years ago to apply biochar to their denuded hillsides to assist with tree planting efforts. Only nine of the mammals that currently live in the forests appear to be survivors of Hong Kong's primeval mammal fauna: they include leopard cats, small Indian civets, Chinese ferret badgers and Chinese pangolins. At Kadoorie Farm, researchers have also set up a 20-hectare forest plot, which contains the most extensive old-growth secondary broadleaf forest in Hong Kong. Chinese immigration first disturbed Hong Kong's halcyon landscape in the 11th and 12th Centuries, when settlers started to clear the forests. KFBG hope to make a success of their biochar trial such that it can be implemented across Hong Kong over time. "For these reservoirs to function properly, the government had to improve the catchment area," says Derrick Yuk Fo Lai of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. To quickly re-establish forest land cover, conservationists planted hardy and fast-growing species. Consequently, scientists have employed various tactics to increase the diversity of these "green deserts". However, many are now aging and withering, and the dense canopies they create hinder the natural propagation and growth of native trees. Description: Volunteers will be divided into groups to complete different tasks including weeding, adding fertilizer, setting tree guards and planting seedlings. "Conservation is mostly about nostalgia, putting things back the way that they were," Corlett says. Most areas were seriously eroded and due to the relatively higher adaptability of exotic tree species, they were strategically chosen to plant as pioneer trees to help land rehabilitation and soil erosion control. The work began in earnest in 1976. Majority of mountains of Hong Kong are barren of trees from thousands of year of deforestation. As part of due diligence, KFBG management visited Australia to observe two CharMakers in operation at a production site in a rural setting. In 2009, to speed up the transformation of exotic pioneer plantations into more diverse woodlands, the AFCD launched a project to progressively thin out exotic pioneer trees to give way to the in-planting of native trees. Once the pyrolysis process is complete, the biochar is quickly removed and quenched. The aim was to prevent soil erosion and stop reservoirs silting up, so the water supply could be maintained. Thanks to tricks like these, the scientists are starting to see much greater species diversity in the secondary forests in Hong Kong. Fischer says. Non-native species planted under British rule are a dominating presence of the natural landscape, which has introduced other environmental issues such as habitat loss for native fauna, and mono-culture woody species. The CharMaker MPP20 is a mobile batch pyrolysis unit designed to efficiently and cleanly pyrolyse a large amount of biomass feedstock and convert it into valuable biochar. KFBG investigated options for large volume biochar supply from the commercial market vs an internal production programme. CharMaker loaded for first time in Hong Kong, Loaded and good to go with Acacia Confusa. They use it to figure out the dynamics of the forest systems. But as the forests expand, it will be possible to bring them back. By 1990, almost 10% of the HKG was covered by woodland, 5% by plantation and around 10% by tall scrubland. It wasn’t always that way. The biochar is unloaded into a concrete bay where it is crushed prior to transport to the mountain hill-sides for application. But in the 1970s, the Hong Kong government began a reforestation program. And please see below for an interesting video of the project: KFBG proceeded with a CharMaker FPP20 (fixed pyrolysis plant – 20” container size) solution and this was soon delivered as a fully functioning unit to a prepared site in the botanic garden. Mean annual rainfall in Hong Kong is 2214 mm, with 77% of the total annual rainfall falling between May and September, as opposed to only 6% in the four winter months. By identifying and tagging the trees, and checking variables like species composition and growth rates, the scientists get to see how different species behave in the ecosystem. Soon the waste biomass was being pyrolysed and large quantities of biochar were being produced – about 1.2 tonne dry basis per batch, or 5 m3. An even more distant goal is to reintroduce some of the other creatures that have been lost from Hong Kong, such as gibbons and forest pheasants. Reforestation in various areas of Hong Kong – “the barren rock” – began at the end of the nineteenth century as a result of deliberate government policy. The Hong Kong Outline Plan, with a periodically revised set of planning standards and guidelines, should incorporate this idea with the specific view of creating more urban landscape corridors in addition to a general recommendation on open-space provision. But step only slightly beyond this concrete jungle, and a different scene awaits: rolling hillsides and mountains, shrublands and forests, where the only sound is the gentle lilt of birdsong. View image of Hong Kong has a busy harbour (Credit: Jabruson/naturepl.com), View image of The summit of Tai Mo Shan, Hong Kong (Credit: Keng Po Leung/Alamy), View image of A leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) (Credit: Shibai Xiao/naturepl.com), Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department, View image of Hong Kong could once again have lush forests (Credit: EyeEm Mobile GmbH/Alamy), View image of A Malayan porcupine (Hystrix brachyura) (Credit: Michael Pitts/naturepl.com), View image of A small Indian civet (Viverricula indica) (Credit: Roland Seitre/naturepl.com), View image of Hong Kong is a dense metropolis (Credit: Ernie Janes/naturepl.com), View image of Two Chinese ferret badgers (Melogale moschata) (Credit: Shibai Xiao/naturepl.com), View image of Pangolins are endangered (Credit: Roland Seitre/naturepl.com), View image of The city of Hong Kong is surrounded by tropical vegetation (Credit: Mike Pickles/Alamy), View image of Elephants once roamed Hong Kong (Credit: Andy Rouse/naturepl.com), sign up for the weekly bbc.com features newsletter. "Which species grow along a stream? The loss of the trees had widespread consequences. 75% tree cover reflects a dense canopy. A small biochar kiln was implemented for on-site production and this was sufficient for initiating small and successful trials. "That knowledge can significantly improve the success rate of a restoration project.". Approximately 18% of the annual rainfall – more than twice the monthly average – falls in August. The government designated about 41% of the land area of Hong Kong, which consists of more than 230 outlying islands and a section of the Chinese mainland, as country parks and restricted areas. "It gives us a sense of what the ideal stage of a forest would be.". Read about our approach to external linking. Over time the forests will start to grow on the hillside, biodiversity will start to increase, and soil erosion and landslides will become a thing of the past. The Greening, Landscape and Tree Management Section will mount a variety of community involvement and public education activities for various target groups to foster an attitude of greening the … These feng shui forests are probably not perfect representations of the original Hong Kong forests, as villagers have cultivated specific species for their needs. But that does not mean Hong Kong, and places like it, cannot have rich and beautiful ecosystems. Over the last few hundred years, Hong Kong lost almost all its forests, and with it much of its animal life. To keep the communities of Hong Kong fully informed of our activities and developments, we maintain an active dialogue with the media. What's more, the dense vegetation of a healthy forest soaks up water like a sponge, filters it and then releases it all year round. The hope is that these little pockets of diversity will act as seed sources for the surrounding areas. This ensures a reliable water supply. Jointly held by the Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department and Friends of the Country Parks, the events will take place on March 17 at Tai Lam Country Park, March 31 at Lantau South Country Park and at Pat Sin Leng Country Park on April 14. "A species which liked the dry conditions in the first place might not like it any more once you get the forest canopy closed," Fischer says. All are now extinct in the region. In Hong Kong's thriving metropolis, hundreds of skyscrapers compete for their place in the crowded skyline. "The trees are rare, so once you plant them out and nurture them, it's kind of like bringing back species to the wild," Fischer says. Then World War Two came. The Hong Kong government has invested a lot of resources in massive afforestation work to restore barren hillsides and eroded slopes. 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