"Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree today"
- Martin Luther King
trees of the lamma forest
With its sub tropical climate and its overall pleasant weather Hong Kong has a large variety of trees. Because of HK’s climate, we have plenty of interesting flowering trees, patly tropical, partly subtropical and partly temperate allowing for a wide range of species to flourish.
It is estimated that there are currently up to 390 endemic native tree species.
With Lamma Island being almost entirely deforested in modern times, the tree planting that has taken place since 1996 is what is termed secondary forest. With the old growth and original forests and trees long gone, this is the reality for most trees and forests in Hong Kong.
Back in the late 19th Century the H.K. Government started to reforest and plant fast growing trees that were mainly exotic due to the nature of the circumstances back then.
Likewise when ABLE first started to plant the Lamma Forest in April 1997 we were advised and supplied with exotic species of trees, such as various Eucalyptus , Acacias and Casuarinas. We didn’t know any better and took the Government’s advise and proceeded to plant them very successfully. The rate of survival and growth was most impressive. It was not until the year 2000 that tree experts from the wonderful and inspiring KFBG came to our assistance and advised us to only plant local endemic tree species. And that is what we have done ever since the year 2000 onwards.
Since then we have planted a wide variety of local trees, sadly their rate of growth and success has not been as impressive as the earlier first three planting years of those exotic species that still dominate. Local trees tend to grow much slower amongst exotic trees and once the land is propagated with these exotics they tend to make life quite difficult for the local population. Never the less local trees are now making a big comeback up in the Lamma Forest and many of the trees planted in the last dozen or so tree plants have done relatively well. We have some impressive specials growing happily.
The planting of the humble tree is the most generous gift to future generations. For without trees, there would be no life.
Below is a list of some of the Local Tree Species we have planted over the decades. Some have done better than others and some have not survived at all.
For example one year back in the year 2000 we planted 500 species of the local Pine tree commonly known as the Chinese Red Pine Tree. We planted them around Earth Day in late April. Back in the earlier days we always used to plant around that time of the year. Sadly that year there was no rain until the first week of June. So we rather ambitiously but foolishly tried to water the trees ourselves. That was done by carrying special water tanks on our backs and walking up steep hills deep into the forest in scorching heat to attempt to give the poor trees some H2O. We must have tried three or four times over the six weeks or so, but sadly most of them never made it. In total only five Pine trees survived that year. But the handful that did, have now self seeded and sprouted quite a few babies up there. These years we plant trees in late May and the first week of June. The climate has changed.
Hong Kong Trees planted in the Lamma Forest since 2000:
We have also planted a few, not too may, of these exotic species below that fair well and have adapted to Hong Kong, because of their beauty and harmonious integration locally.
This is not a comprehensive list as the records of so many tree plantings pre date the internet as such and the records have been lost to HK humidity and Typhoon Manghut that wrecked havoc with our storage facilities and our office in September of 2018. Whereby we sadly lost thousands of photographs, documents and historical memorabilia going back to the early 1990’s.