Evaluation of heritage trees for conservation and management in Guangzhou city (China)

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The recent fast pace of urbanization in China and other developing countries has exerted pressure on urban trees, which constitute a key urban environmental asset. The most outstanding trees should be treated as natural-cum-cultural heritage. Guangzhou City's growth has threatened its rich urban-tree endowment, a diversified assemblage of 200,000 trees represented by 254 species and located in three major habitats: roadside, park, and institutional grounds. Mainly based on age and performance, 348 trees were officially designated as heritage specimens. They were evaluated in the field for tree dimensions, habitat, performance, and landscape contribution, to establish enhanced conservation and management strategies. With only 25 species, heritage trees were dominated by five cultivated natives and encompass some of the city's rare species; some common urban-forest species were not represented. Older districts and roadside habitats, despite their compact town plan and limited growing space, had the largest tree dimensions and largest share of heritage trees. Many heritage trees were large with long life expectancy and the potential for biomass expansion, and had pivotal cityscape impacts where they occur. Old neighborhoods, traditional haven for the arborescent treasure, are being changed by construction activities and periodic typhoon and windstorm damages. Increasing development density could degrade the heritage trees and their growing space, and reduce tree quality and life span. Upgrading the statutory-administrative systems and arboricultural care can enhance long-term survival of the precious natural-cum-cultural heritage. The experience of Guangzhou in identifying and preserving its high-quality urban trees can provide management strategies for other cities. Copyright © 2004 Springer-Verlag New York Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-86
JournalEnvironmental Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2004


Jim, C. Y. (2004). Evaluation of heritage trees for conservation and management in Guangzhou city (China). Environmental Management, 33(1), 74-86. doi: 10.1007/s00267-003-0169-0


  • Urban trees
  • Urban forest
  • Heritage trees
  • Tree evaluation
  • Tree conservation
  • Tree management
  • Guangzhou
  • China


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