Permanent Forest Plots at Hong Kong and South China

The Flora Conservation Department of KFBG is collaborating with the Kadoorie Institute (KI) of the University of Hong Kong in a forest dynamic plot (FDP) project in Hong Kong. The project was initiated by KI with the support of the Hong Kong Bank Foundation. Dr. Billy Hau of KI is currently the principal investigator of the project, and the Flora Conservation Department of KFBG is the professional collaborator. Two permanent forest plots have been established under the auspices of the project – a 20 hectare (ha) plot at Tai Po Kau, where the most extensive old-growth secondary evergreen broadleaf forest of Hong Kong can be found, and a 1 ha trial plot at KFBG. KFBG will take full control of the project in 2015.

Forest Dynamic Plots aim to address important questions in forest ecology and dynamics, including the long-term process of forest succession; the factors controlling species assembly; the impact of climate change on forest structure and function; and the functioning of forest at the ecosystem level, such as patterns of carbon sequestration and nutrient cycling. This research is achieved through demarcating a plot (the FDP), marking and mapping all woody plants with a stem diameter of more than 1 cm at breast height, recording and identifying all the species and their size, and gathering environmental variables within the plot, including altitudes, aspect, and soil composition. All woody plants within the FDP will then be re-censused systematically every 5 years, to reveal patterns in individual tree growth and forest composition. The results generated from this work will also shed on suitable methods for forest restoration in Hong Kong and South China. In essence, an FDP is therefore an outdoor laboratory for the study of many aspects of the forest ecosystem. In addition to addressing scientific questions, the project will also serve public education purposes by involving the public in its establishment and census.

In addition to the Hong Kong FDP project at Tai Po Kau, the Flora Conservation Department of KFBG is also planning to establish other permanent forest plots in Hong Kong and South China. We are planning to establish a number of one hectare plots in Hong Kong to investigate the forest composition and forest succession of other forests of Hong Kong. We are also looking for opportunity to establish another FDP project in South China.