Managing urban trees and their soil envelopes in a contiguously developed city environment

Environ Manage. 2001 Dec;28(6):819-32. doi: 10.1007/s002670010264.


Urban Hong Kong is covered by high building, road, and population densities. Its urban morphology is inherently not conducive to extensive or high-grade greening. Recent renewal of old areas has squeezed out some limited interstitial plantable space, although in new development areas modest spaces have been earmarked for greenery. The study aims at evaluating the major constraints to urban trees and their companion urban soil envelopes and at providing specific recommendations to improve tree management in the city. The analysis covers the above-ground confinements that dampen tree performance, the less tangible but rather difficult institutional restrictions that impose a somewhat unnecessary lid on tree planting, the multiplicity of players and stakeholders involved in urban-tree management that militates against coordination and cooperation, the widespread occupation of underground space by utility lines often to the exclusion of trees, and the extremely poor quality of urban soils that are often used without amelioration to support tree growth. The management recommendations furnish practical suggestions and hints to improve the short- and long-term welfare of trees in terms of quality, quantity, and spatial distribution. The conclusion enumerates some concrete measures for consideration by decision-makers to upgrade the city's greenery to close the gap between science and policy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cities*
  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Decision Making
  • Facility Design and Construction
  • Hong Kong
  • Humans
  • Public Policy
  • Soil*
  • Trees / growth & development*


  • Soil