Successful conclusion of the Hong Kong 2020 International Urban Forestry Conference
The Hong Kong 2020 International Urban Forestry Conference, the first-ever international conference on urban forestry organised by the Development Bureau (DEVB), was held at the JC Cube Auditorium, Tai Kwun, Central on 16 and 17 January. Under the theme of “Challenges and Opportunities of Urban Greening in High-density Cities”, the two-day conference invited more than 20 local, overseas and mainland speakers and attracted over 600 professionals and students to share views and experience on matters related to urban forestry. This time, I have specially invited the Head of Greening and Landscape Office (H/GLO) of the DEVB, Ms Vina WONG, to give you the conference details.
Opportunities and challenges of urban forestry
The contribution of trees in moderating temperatures and improving air quality is especially significant in a compact urban environment, not to mention the trees also enhance the visual appeal of a city. Hong Kong is a crowded and densely populated city that poses unique challenges and opportunities in our urban forestry work. For example: How can we achieve sustainable greening in high-density cities through meticulous planning and execution? How can we administer proper tree care in a constrained environment? How can we develop skyrise greenery including sky gardens, roof greening and vertical greening in the densely-built Hong Kong?
Pooling of International expertise and experience
In the nearly 10 years since its establishment in 2010, the Greening, Landscape and Tree Management Section of the DEVB has laid a solid foundation for the urban forestry work in Hong Kong. However, we still have a lot to learn as urban forestry involves a wide spectrum of topics, and specialised fields of knowledge are required in tree management and maintenance practices. I believe that this conference could help local industry practitioners gain experience and broaden their horizons through exchanges with international experts and sharing of the best practices. The conference also provided a platform to foster international ties on knowledge exchange of urban forestry related topics so as to explore the way forward.
Exploring planning and management of urban greening
The H/GLO of the DEVB, Ms Vina WONG, says that the conference was arranged in three sessions each with in-depth discussion of a key topic, namely Green Cities, Resilient Landscape and Tree Care. The speakers came from different disciplines, including arboriculture and urban forestry experts, academics, ecological experts, landscape architects, planners, engineers and researchers in technology.
In the session of Green Cities, the experts from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, the Bureau of Forestry and Landscaping of Guangzhou Municipality, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Urban Forest Research Group in the United Kingdom as well as the scholars locally and from the National University of Singapore, shared their experience of implementing urban greening and the relevant academic study results. Meanwhile, the session of Resilient Landscape considered how to develop an urban forest to prepare for the changes in climate, ecology and the social environment, thereby enhancing the liveability and resilience of a city. In the session of Tree Care, academics and industry practitioners from all over the world shared their insights and experience on the management and maintenance of urban forests.
Field trip and exchange with local students
According to Ms Vina WONG, the conference arranged a public field session to the Victoria Park, during which experienced arborists explained how proper tree maintenance practices could reduce damages to trees under inclement weather. Several overseas speakers also interacted with more than 120 local tertiary students in the disciplines of landscape architecture, arboriculture and horticulture to discuss how to achieve sustainable urban forestry within a high-density city environment. Besides, some overseas experts conducted site visits to learn about Hong Kong’s development in the areas of “Rivers in the City”, “Management of Stonewall Trees” and “Skyrise Greenery”.
Proper planning and development of urban forestry work has never been easy in Hong Kong where it is densely populated. Through the conference, we wish to enhance the effectiveness of our work, foster closer ties with the international counterparts and, more importantly, raise public awareness on this issue as the work on urban forestry cannot depend solely on the efforts of the Government and the industry, but also the support from the general public. The conference was held last month but this blog is written at a critical time when we are fighting the infectious disease, with most of the large-scale conferences cancelled. I hope we can pull together to tackle the challenges with one mind and prevail against the virus.
9 February, 2020