Floristics, performance and prognosis of historical trees in the urban forest of Guangzhou city (China)

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Outstanding historical trees embedded in cities constitute pertinent environmental assets, yet they are widely threatened in third-world cities. Inadequate understanding of this valuable natural-cum-cultural heritage hinders proper conservation. A case study of Guangzhou in south China evaluated floristic composition, age profile and biomass structure of historical trees, assessed their performance in major habitats (institutional, park and roadside), and established a prognosis for future growth and management. The 348 historical trees examined belonged to only 25 species, vis-à-vis 254 trees in the entire urban forest, dominated by five species and native members. Roadside had more trees, followed by institutional and park, with merely the most common four species shared by all habitats. The limited commonality reflected tree-performance differentiation by habitats exerting selection pressure on species. The institutional growth-regime was more conducive to nurturing high-caliber specimens, whereas park is less capable. Individual species achievement by habitats, derived from tree-count ranking and relative-abundance indices, could inform species choice and tree conservation. Few trees exceeded 300 years of age in the millennium-old city, echoing a history of intense tree-city conflicts. Potential life-span, trunk and crown diameters indicated ample opportunities for further expansion of biomass and landscape impacts, which would be straitjacketed by the tightening urban fabric. Copyright © 2005 Springer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-308
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2005



Jim, C. Y. (2005). Floristics, performance and prognosis of historical trees in the urban forest of Guangzhou city (China). Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 102(1-3), 285-308. doi: 10.1007/s10661-005-6028-0


  • Urban trees
  • Urban forest
  • Historical trees
  • Tree habitat
  • Tree performance
  • Tree protection
  • Guangzhou
  • China