Our Hong Kong Forests: Healthy?

A Saturday morning in August: hot, humid and rainy and there are some 20 HSBC staff heading to a forest in Shek Kong. They are there for a full day’s volunteer work in surveying the trees in Hong Kong.

How? They walk into a dense forest, work as a team to identify the species present (including Long-leaved Litsea (豺皮樟), Common Aporusa (大沙葉), Pop-gun Seed (土蜜樹)and about 30 other species), measure the size of the trees and tag the trees with labels for record purposes.

Done? Not quite. In 30  minutes they have only surveyed 5x5m, which is the size of a big parasol, and there’s a football-field sized (1 hectare) area of land for them to finish! Not to mention the other 20 hectares of land waiting to be surveyed soon!

Masarang HK volunteers, Sharne McMillan and Royce To, spent a wonderful day in the field doing fieldwork in great company with Dr. Hau and his research team. We were charmed by their enthusiasm and their very special way in bringing their energy and knowledge to every volunteer as they let us know that it is: more than counting trees; more than knowing our forests; more than research; it is about showing our care to the health of Mother Nature!

The Kadoorie Institute team has set-up a 1-hectare demonstration and training plot at Shek Kong and a 20- hectare long-term forest monitoring plot at Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve as part of of the global network of forest research plots of the Center for Tropical Forest Science (CTFS).  The –principal investigator for this unique project in Hong Kong is Dr. Billy Hau from the University of Hong Kong. Dr. Hau was born and brought up in Long Valley, Hong Kong.  He is a Terrestrial Ecologist and he teaches Ecology and Biodiversity both in the BSc. and MSc. Programmes at Hong Kong University. He is also the Deputy Programme Director and Coordinator of the MSc. in Environmental Management Programme. Dr. Hau’s primary research interest has always been ecological restoration of terrestrial habitats and he works to restore the extensive degraded hillside habitats in Hong Kong and South China into species-rich native forests.

The project is part of the global initiative in understanding the performances of forests around the world.   The forest dynamic plot(s) where this study was based was/were set up with funding support from The Hongkong Bank Foundation.  In essence, these data will be analyzed in order to help understand topics, such as, Climate Change and Forest Dynamics. The 1- hectare plot in the Kadoorie Institute and the 20-hectare land in Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve are part of this global effort and volunteers, like those staff members at HSBC, are vital!

I will be letting you know about volunteer opportunities at the 20-hectare plot soon…

Royce To


Global Forest Observatory: Public Involvement and Training in Scientific Research