However, many are now aging and withering, and the dense canopies they create hinder the natural propagation and growth of native trees. For example, 75% includes only areas with more than 75% tree cover, whereas 10% includes all areas with more than 10% tree cover. The occupying Japanese cleared large swathes of forests for cooking fuel, leaving much of Hong Kong little more than "barren rock.". The Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden (KFBG) is a unique botanical gardens tucked away in the highlands of Hong Kong (HKG). 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. The next step is to make the forests self-sustaining. Biochar will hopefully support this positive environmental outcome to occur. Hong Kong. The comparative freedom of Hong Kong citizens to go about our daily lives was mostly met with astonishment from the radio host in London, living in … 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. The CharMakers were processing residue Willow trees harvested from riparian land care efforts. "But most of the megafauna disappeared alongside the forest, because once the big trees are gone, canopy-dwelling animals can't survive," Fischer says. 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. "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". "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. For more information on the CharMaker unit please visit here. "Deforestation and fragmentation of habitats actually goes back many centuries.". These trees quickly re-established vegetation cover on barren hillsides, improving the landscape and preventing further soil erosion. Many of these critters are long gone from Hong Kong. By the end of the war, small patchy forests covered less than 4% of the land. 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. 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. 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. However, deforestation has still taken its toll. During the Japanese occupation in the Second World War, the countryside was deforested as the remaining population required fuel to survive. 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. 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 ridge top?" The windswept underlying granite rocks are scantily covered with soil and are overgrown with grass making tree establishment very difficult. 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. 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. 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. All are now extinct in the region. As well as being cultural icons of traditional Chinese villages, these woods are now ecological treasure-houses. is appealing for KFBG and meets their sustainability criteria. "These were the only forests that could actually remain during the war times," says Lai. "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. About two-thirds of its forests are protected in these areas since then. The aim was to prevent soil erosion and stop reservoirs silting up, so the water supply could be maintained. 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. "This is very unique in Hong Kong, because the natural succession only favours a few species, not the vast majority," Fischer says. "To make the forest work, eventually one has to reintroduce certain species of animals," Fischer says. 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. "If nature can't overcome these barriers naturally, it needs human interference," Fischer says. Early villagers chose to settle in wooded areas. 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. Join over five million BBC Earth fans by liking us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter and Instagram. Read about our approach to external linking. 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. The population kept growing and, when Hong Kong became a centre for lime production, locals felled huge amounts of trees to fire the kilns. 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. 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. 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. A vision of a reforested Hong Kong would not be possible without you. Reforestation of Hong Kong is a large intractable problem that the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden is tackling with the help of biochar. The arrival of British rule saw a concerted effort to implement reforestation programmes in various areas. Which like a slope? "Conservation is mostly about nostalgia, putting things back the way that they were," Corlett says. The design is based on a shipping container layout and is easily transported despite the large amounts of biomass it can handle. Before records began, bears, elephants and rhinoceroses also lived in Hong Kong. More than 400 years ago, the upper slopes of Tai Mo Shan were covered in lush, green forest. Thanks to tricks like these, the scientists are starting to see much greater species diversity in the secondary forests in Hong Kong. There certainly would have been elephants in the past, but it's probably not practical to have elephants in Hong Kong again.". Established in 1956, the KFBG site is one of Hong Kong's little known jewels. 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. To date, histories of Hong Kong have 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 impact of WWII saw these efforts temporally undone, but post war efforts saw reforestation programmes resume and continue to present day. 5. However, we must be careful not to translate the need for restoration of our forests into mass reforestation efforts throughout Hong Kong. Biomass and land use carbon emissions data for Hong Kong "Tree cover threshold" is used for defining the tree cover area. "Which species grow along a stream? It wasn’t always that way. 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. Been well-developed for a long period of time, '' says Lai and this was for... 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