Join over five million BBC Earth fans by liking us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter and Instagram. Perhaps the most essential ingredients in a fully sustainable forest are "seed dispersal agents": animals such as birds that carry the trees' seeds around. A thermal oxidiser efficiently removes smoke emissions during operation making it an almost smokeless technology that meets Australian emissions standards. In this way, they have been able to establish a forest with more than 100 different tree species. 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. Reforestation programs can be divided into two broad categories: 'offsetting' and 'insetting' programs. Hong Kong Search Data Indicate Unease, Migration Plans Among Middle Class 2020-12-17. "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. • Hong Kong’s natural climax vegetation state is subtropical rainforest. As part of due diligence, KFBG management visited Australia to observe two CharMakers in operation at a production site in a rural setting. Oral tradition and scientific analysis of the flora suggest that these forests are several hundred years old. 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. It can also reduce erosion and bolster freshwater supplies. Established in 1956, the KFBG site is one of Hong Kong's little known jewels. More than 400 years ago, the upper slopes of Tai Mo Shan were covered in lush, green forest. 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. Then in 2015, the AFCD planted 400,000 tree seedlings in Hong Kong's country parks. 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. The ability to produce their own liquid fuel on site (their own bio-refinery!) 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. In Hong Kong’s early colonial days, the government was keen on making the city a much greener place. 6. b) expand the use of forest products (fruits, rubber, water, medicine, bush meat, dyes, gums, fibres, food, saps, fodder, fish, wood, timber, chewing sticks) that will sustainably replace fossil-fuel emissionsc) reduce carbon emissions that are caused from deforestation. Thanks to tricks like these, the scientists are starting to see much greater species diversity in the secondary forests in Hong Kong. Biochar will hopefully support this positive environmental outcome to occur. Subtropical forests can sequester 10 to 30 metric tonnes of carbon per hectare. The next step is to make the forests self-sustaining. For more information on the CharMaker unit please visit here. A small biochar kiln was implemented for on-site production and this was sufficient for initiating small and successful trials. These feng shui forests are probably not perfect representations of the original Hong Kong forests, as villagers have cultivated specific species for their needs. "This is one of the reasons why the government started planting trees around Hong Kong.". 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. Overall forest coverage has also been steadily increasing since the post-war period. When most of us think of Hong Kong, we think of a densely-packed city. Reforestation of Hong Kong is a large intractable problem that the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden is tackling with the help of biochar. Success after the first batch run – Dr Gunter Fischer (KFBG) and Robert Laird (Earth Systems). Seed dispersal agents are normally things like birds and rodents: small creatures that cannot survive in an open, degraded landscape. These are small forest plots, mostly less than 4 hectares each, that sit next to over 110 villages throughout China. 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. Which like a slope? About two-thirds of its forests are protected in these areas since then. In 1997, researchers at Kadoorie Farm established a native tree nursery that is now home to 400 native species. The aqueous fraction, sometimes called “wood vinegar”, may have numerous agricultural applications, from enhancing germination rates to acting as a pesticide. Consequently, scientists have employed various tactics to increase the diversity of these "green deserts". "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. As tiny worms had all but wiped out the native Masson's pine, conservationists turned instead to exotic non-native species like Brisbane box, Taiwan Acacia and slash pine. Over the last few hundred years, Hong Kong lost almost all its forests, and with it much of its animal life. Before records began, bears, elephants and rhinoceroses also lived in Hong Kong. "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. If nature can't overcome these barriers naturally, it needs human interference. The Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden (KFBG) is a unique botanical gardens tucked away in the highlands of Hong Kong (HKG). 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. 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. When the first trees are planted, the grasslands are often dry, exposed and open to wind and strong sunshine. Then World War Two came. "In Hong Kong that is simply not possible.". 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. Fischer says. 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. Established in 1956, the KFBG site is one of Hong Kong's little known jewels. However, many are now aging and withering, and the dense canopies they create hinder the natural propagation and growth of native trees. Over the last few hundred years, Hong Kong lost almost all its forests, and with it much of its animal life. Malayan porcupines, leopard cats, and black-faced spoonbills also enjoy refuge in these parks. 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. 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. As well as being cultural icons of traditional Chinese villages, these woods are now ecological treasure-houses. 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. We were asked:Certain histories state that Hong Kong lost most of its trees due to widespread cutting around WWII, and that all the current trees/flora that cover the mountains on the island came about as a result of reforestation efforts which started in the 1950s. "This is very unique in Hong Kong, because the natural succession only favours a few species, not the vast majority," Fischer says. Centuries of deforestation for firewood had left Hong Kong’s hillsides completely denuded –hence Lord Palmerston’s dismissal of the future colony as “a barren island” after the British arrived in 1841. The community plays a significant role in our tree management work. At the moment, the forests have not recovered enough for this problem to be tackled. The aim was to prevent soil erosion and stop reservoirs silting up, so the water supply could be maintained. Once the pyrolysis process is complete, the biochar is quickly removed and quenched. 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. It wasn’t always that way. 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. The windswept underlying granite rocks are scantily covered with soil and are overgrown with grass making tree establishment very difficult. 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. 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. 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). These trees quickly re-established vegetation cover on barren hillsides, improving the landscape and preventing further soil erosion. But there are barriers to that. Thus, everyday, you restore the environment and have a positive impact on the world. 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. 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. Biomass and land use carbon emissions data for Hong Kong "Tree cover threshold" is used for defining the tree cover area. These monocultures also create poor diversity in the understory and produce dry fruit. "But they swim well, so I think they'd get around the fence. The design is based on a shipping container layout and is easily transported despite the large amounts of biomass it can handle. The Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden (KFBG) is a unique botanical gardens tucked away in the highlands of Hong Kong (HKG). 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. 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. "If nature can't overcome these barriers naturally, it needs human interference," Fischer says. The work began in earnest in 1976. 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. However, deforestation has still taken its toll. Since the founding of the crown colony in the 19th century, afforestation has taken place to prevent soil erosion in the catchment areas of the reservoirs that were built. 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. We've seen that birds don't like to fly into Brisbane box plantations. 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. 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. A species which liked the dry conditions in the first place might not like it any more once you get the forest canopy closed. "To make the forest work, eventually one has to reintroduce certain species of animals," Fischer says. However, to implement a solution that could cover an entire mountain top with biochar a large scale solution was always envisaged. It's probably not practical to have elephants in Hong Kong again. A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Earth, Culture, Capital, Travel and Autos, delivered to your inbox every Friday. 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. 80% of them were native species. 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. Many of these critters are long gone from Hong Kong. CharMaker and dryer unit in background. 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. "Which species grow along a stream? This is where biochar comes into the story. Hong Kong. After World War Two, the first priority was simply to rehabilitate the barren areas. But as the forests expand, it will be possible to bring them back. Yet before records began, bears, elephants and rhinoceroses also lived in Hong Kong. Raw biochar post CharMaker operation (prior to crushing), Biochar after the chipping to size – ready for application to the mountain tree planting trials. 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 vision of a reforested Hong Kong would not be possible without you. Which like a ridge top?" They contrast sharply with the adjacent regions, where a meagre layer of grass and shrubs covers the topsoil. "The idea [is] that, if you keep the trees at the back of the village, it brings good fortune and health to the villagers.". Reforestation of Hong Kong is a large intractable problem that the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden is tackling with the help of biochar. "Hong Kong is just a wonderful model system of what can be done," says Corlett. To get a glimpse of Hong Kong's past richness, scientists need look no further than "feng shui forests". 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. 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. This ensures a reliable water supply. Description: Volunteers will be divided into groups to complete different tasks including weeding, adding fertilizer, setting tree guards and planting seedlings. "But most of the megafauna disappeared alongside the forest, because once the big trees are gone, canopy-dwelling animals can't survive," Fischer says. KFBG launched a programme several years ago to apply biochar to their denuded hillsides to assist with tree planting efforts. The bio-oil product is currently under consideration as a thermal energy source for the site. But once the canopy closes, conditions can be moist and humid. "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. Read about our approach to external linking. Biochar was a logical solution for such a set of problems. In Hong Kong, urban development has been recently extended towards the natural terrain, which consequentially increased the social-economic impact brought by natural terrain landslides. Keyword searches on emigration and offshore bank accounts have … To quickly re-establish forest land cover, conservationists planted hardy and fast-growing species. KFBG hope to make a success of their biochar trial such that it can be implemented across Hong Kong over time. "These were the only forests that could actually remain during the war times," says Lai. "They are like primary forests that have been well-developed for a long period of time," says Lai. To keep the communities of Hong Kong fully informed of our activities and developments, we maintain an active dialogue with the media. "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. 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. Summer is … But in the 1970s, the Hong Kong government began a reforestation program. Other types of habitat are equally important for biodiversity, and must also be … 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. 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. 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. 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. If you liked this story, sign up for the weekly bbc.com features newsletter called "If You Only Read 6 Things This Week". KFBG investigated options for large volume biochar supply from the commercial market vs an internal production programme. Several units are in operation in Australia, and KFBG visited the Victorian based units. 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. The commercial market was deemed too expensive especially considering transportation costs, and the sustainability of product was not assured in some cases. 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. Increasing the amount of forested land many are now aging and withering, and spoonbills! The mountain hill-sides for application World war two, the Hong Kong. `` in. Earth fans by liking us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter Instagram!, can not survive in an open, degraded landscape and successful trials they create hinder natural... A significant role in our tree management work riparian land care efforts many of these `` green deserts.! 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