Monitoring the performance and decline of heritage trees in urban Hong Kong

J Environ Manage. 2005 Jan;74(2):161-72. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2004.08.014.


Urban trees in Hong Kong exist in stressful and harsh habitat conditions due mainly to the exceptionally high-density development mode. This study focuses on the cream of the urban tree stock, the heritage trees, which were selected according to five sets of stringent criteria: species, dimension, structure, condition, location, and special considerations. The study area covers the main urban core of the city. The loss of trees in two periods, 1993-1998 and 1999-2003, was monitored, with the predisposing and direct causes of damages ascertained as far as possible. Of the 380 heritage specimens, 54 trees were lost in the survey period. The main predisposing causes were injuries sustained in roadwork and construction activities, both related to root damage and soil disturbance. The principal direct causes were recent gradual decline and abrupt demise due to typhoon breakage. Three pairs of contributing variables registered statistically significant associations (chi(2) test), namely predisposing cause versus direct cause, tree growth form versus direct cause, and survey period versus direct cause. Principal component analysis identified three factors that explained 70% of the variance, namely tree form, tree stature, and growth environment. The main reasons for the high mortality were explored. The possible applications of the findings to improve tree protection and management were discussed in relation to the overall planning for meritorious greenery and green space especially in compact cities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cities*
  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Environmental Monitoring*
  • Hong Kong
  • Population Dynamics
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Time
  • Trees / growth & development*