Effects of landfill gas on subtropical woody plants

G. Y. S. CHAN, Ming Hung WONG, B. A. WHITTON

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30 Citations (Scopus)


An account is given of the influence of landfill gas on tree growth in the field at Gin Drinkers' Bay (GDB) landfill, Hong Kong, and in the laboratory. Ten species (Acacia confusa, Albizzia lebbek, Aporusa chinensis, Bombax malabaricum, Castanopsis fissa, Liquidambar formosana, Litsea glutinosa, Machilus breviflora, Pinus elliottii, and Tristania conferta), belonging to eight families, were transplanted to two sites, one with a high concentration of landfill gas in the cover soil (high-gas site, HGS) and the other with a relatively low concentration of gas (low-gas site, LGS). Apart from the gaseous composition, the general soil properties were similar. A strong negative correlation between tree growth and landfill gas concentration was observed. A laboratory study using the simulated landfill gas to fumigate seedlings of the above species showed that the adventitious root growth of Aporusa chinensis, Bombax malabaricum, Machilus breviflora, and Tristania confera was stimulated by the gas, with shallow root systems being induced. Acacia confusa, Albizzia lebbek, and Litsea glutinosa were gas-tolerant, while root growth of Castanopsis fissa, Liquidambar formosana, and Pinus elliottii was inhibited. In most cases, shoot growth was not affected, exceptions being Bombax malabaricum, Liquidambar formosana, and Tristania conferta, where stunted growth and/or reduced foliation was observed. 

A very high CO₂ concentration in cover soil limits the depth of the root system. Trees with a shallow root system become very susceptible to water stress. The effects of low O₂ concentration in soil are less important than the effects of high CO₂ concentration. Acacia confusa, Albizzia lebbek, and Tristania conferta are suited for growth on subtropical completed landfills mainly due to their gas tolerance and/or drought tolerance. Copyright © 1991 Springer-Verlag New York, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-431
JournalEnvironmental Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 1991


Chan, G. Y. S., Wong, M. H., & Whitton, B. A. (1991). Effects of landfill gas on subtropical woody plants. Environmental Management, 15(3), 411-431. doi: 10.1007/BF02393888


  • Landfill gas
  • Tree
  • Root growth
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Methane


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