The Hong Kong 2022 International Urban Forestry Conference was held successfully by the Development Bureau (DEVB) early this month. The biennial conference was conducted using webinar for the first time and a total of about 1 200 participants watched it live on the conference website. This time, I have invited a colleague of the Greening, Landscape and Tree Management Section (GLTMS) of the DEVB to share with us the details of the conference.
Well-being: Our Urban Forest‧Our Community
The theme of the conference is “Well-being: Our Urban Forest‧Our Community”, coinciding with the public’s health concerns at a time when the world is actively fighting the epidemic. Via video conferencing, the Chief Executive, Mrs Carrie LAM, said in her opening address that urban forest provided much more than fresh air, exercise and quiet time. It also offered therapeutic and restorative value at community and personal levels. As a matter of fact, greening and landscape elements have been widely incorporated in the planning of our new development areas. Through “Hong Kong 2030+: Towards a Planning Vision and Strategy Transcending 2030”, the Government is committed to ensuring that Hong Kong remains a liveable, competitive and sustainable city – “Asia’s World City”. Moreover, with the HK$200 million Urban Forestry Support Fund launched in mid-2020, Hong Kong continues to focus on the nurturing arboriculture and horticulture talent.
Exploring urban forestry’s relationship with people's health and wellness
According to Assistant Secretary (Greening and Landscape) of the GLTMS of the DEVB, Mr Jason WONG, more than 20 speakers from Hong Kong, the Mainland and overseas were invited to the two-day conference held on 2 and 3 March. Among the speakers were an expert of the World Health Organisation (WHO), university professors, urban forestry academics, landscape architects, planners and engineers, who shared experiences and exchanged best practices covering four broad areas and sessions, namely “Well-being Cities”, “Urban Forestry in the Greater Bay Area”, “Landscape Design for Health and Well-being”, and “Healthy Urban Forest”. The sessions also enhanced connections between participants.
Jason WONG says, under the epidemic, the wellness-related theme is particularly meaningful. As Mr Matthias BRAUBACH, a representative of the WHO, said in the session of “Well-being Cities”, urban living limits access to nature and can increase exposure to certain environmental hazards. However, green and blue spaces and other nature-based solutions offer innovative approaches to increase the quality of urban settings, and improve the health and well-being of urban residents, etc. In this session, academics from Peking University, the University of Virginia (USA) and the University of Hong Kong also discussed the relationship between urban forestry and nature, and shared with participants their vision.
First Greater Bay Area session
In the special session of “Urban Forestry in the Greater Bay Area”, Mainland and local speakers explored tree management technologies and pests and diseases in South China. Speakers also discussed how to effectively withstand extreme weather through the development of urban forestry, thereby enhancing the city’s adaptability. Participants had a better understanding of how South China could create a more liveable city.
In the session on “Landscape Design for Health and Well-being”, academics and industry practitioners from around the world shared their insights and experiences on urban landscape design and its impact on cities. During the session on “Healthy Urban Forest”, speakers referred to practical examples and experimental findings in explaining the impact of urban forestry on climate change and the environment.
Field trips and exchanges between students and experts
Although the conference was webcasted, we originally arranged exchanges between students, trainees and local experts, as well as field trips to bring the participants closer together. . Unfortunately, due to the severity of the epidemic, these activities had to be postponed. We hope to reschedule the field trips as soon as the epidemic subsides.
Videos showcasing Hong Kong's beautiful landscapes
To bring the learning outcomes of local students and trainees in landscape architecture, arboriculture and horticulture to a wider audience, a virtual exhibition zone was set up on the conference website to showcase their group presentations on the theme of urban forestry and well-being. We have also produced five videos showcasing Hong Kong's beautiful landscape, so that participants from all over the world can appreciate Hong Kong's excellent landscape planning, park landscape, the benefits of urban forestry, as well as the efforts of landscape architects and park managers in urban forestry.
Successful urban forestry and harmony between people and trees require collective wisdom as well as the support and collaboration of various sectors. The number of participants in this year's conference has doubled compared with the previous one, reflecting the growing public interest in urban forestry over the past two years. We hope that through international exchanges and discussions, the public will have a deeper understanding of the relationship between urban forestry and community well-being, thereby further enhancing the co-operation across sectors in urban forestry and the public's care for urban forests, resulting in a more liveable city. The Hong Kong 2024 International Urban Forestry Conference will be held in two years, and we hope to receive your continual support.
27 March, 2022Back