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Title: Evaluating plantation forest vs. natural forest regeneration for biodiversity enhancement in Hong Kong
Authors: Nichol, JE
Abbas, S 
Issue Date: May-2021
Source: Forests, May 2021, v. 12, no. 5, 593
Abstract: Global trends predict a continuous increase in the proportion of forest occupied by plantations up to the end of the 21st century, while a dramatic loss of biodiversity is foreseen as a result of anthropogenic exploitation and climate change. This study compares the role and performance of plantation policies in Hong Kong, with natural regeneration of secondary forest, using detailed spatio-temporal data extracted from a previous study. The study extends over a 70-year period from 1945 to 2014 using aerial photographs and satellite images of five time periods to document spatio-temporal trends in plantation forestry and natural forest succession. Field data on species richness and woody biomass at different stages of forest succession are compared with available data from plantations in the same study area. Results indicate that plantation forests support relatively few native species in the understory, with much lower species richness than naturally regenerated forest, even after 6 to 7 decades. Time-sequential maps of habitat change show that natural forest succession from barren grassy hillsides, progressed at an annual rate of 7.8%, from only 0.2% of the landscape post WWII, to over 37% today. Plantation forestry on the other hand has been less successful, and has even acted as a barrier to natural forest regeneration, as mono-cultural plantations from the late 1960s to 1980s are still plantations today, whereas other similar areas have succeeded naturally to forest. The theory of plantations acting as a nurse crop for a woody native understory is not supported, as Pinus massoniana plantations, destroyed by two deadly nematodes during the 1970s, apparently had no woody understory, as they were seen to have reverted to grassland in 1989 and are still mainly grassland today.
Keywords: Biodiversity
Hong Kong
Secondary forest
Publisher: MDPI AG
Journal: Forests 
EISSN: 1999-4907
DOI: 10.3390/f12050593
Rights: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// 4.0/)
The following publication Nichol, J.E.; Abbas, S. Evaluating Plantation Forest vs. Natural Forest Regeneration for Biodiversity Enhancement in Hong Kong. Forests 2021, 12, 593 is available at
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