Urban heritage trees: Natural-cultural significance informing management and conservation

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapters

19 Citations (Scopus)


Trees with outstanding traits have always attracted human attention, echoed by 60 epithets harvested from the literature. They have been formally designated as heritage trees using diverse criteria, such as size, tree form, historical-cultural associations, and sacred-mythical connotations. Ancient trees with veteran features offer varied micro-habitats to support a surprising assemblage of companion organisms. Other large trees furnish keystone structures with far-reaching ecological impacts. Inventory and scientific data can reinforce community awareness and improve management. Engaging citizens and the business sector could cultivate ownership and muster support. Assessing their economic value could explain multiple benefits, strengthen public-funding justifications, and raise prestige and value of property development. Preserving initial genial site conditions is critical for tree survival in the urban setting. The hitherto neglected soil domain deserves meticulous protection and improvement. Harmful grade change of tree sites should be avoided. Badly degraded sites could be rehabilitated using tailor-made site-specific techniques. The ageing tree-population structure demands proactive nurturing of younger successors to sustain the lineage. The statutory approach is advocated for assured protection and conservation. Overzealous and aggressive tree care should be replaced by a sympathetic and dedicated approach. The frequent omission of lightning protection should be promptly rectified. Conflicts with developments should be settled by in situ preservation, and transplanting should be the last resort. Sentimental and emotional responses towards tree loss could be carefully massaged employing public-relation skills. Heritage-tree conservation could be enhanced by transgenerational urban forestry, precision arboricultural practices, and joint venture of government and citizens. Copyright © 2017 Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGreening cities: Forms and functions
EditorsPuay Yok TAN, Chi Yung JIM
Place of PublicationSingapore
ISBN (Electronic)9789811041136
ISBN (Print)9789811041112
Publication statusPublished - 2017


Jim, C. Y. (2017). Urban heritage trees: Natural-cultural significance informing management and conservation. In P. Y. Tan & C. Y. Jim (Eds.), Greening cities: Forms and functions (pp. 279-305). Singapore: Springer.


  • Heritage tree
  • Veteran tree
  • Ancient tree
  • Tree rehabilitation
  • Transgenerational urban forestry
  • Urban tree ecology


Dive into the research topics of 'Urban heritage trees: Natural-cultural significance informing management and conservation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.