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19 MAY 2023 (FRI) 10:05 - 10:25

Vegetation resilience of protected and non-protected areas in Hong Kong under recurring tropical cyclones

Ms SIT Ka Ying

Abstract:

Around 40% of the global population resides within the coastal zone where human activities are the most prosperous. However, the ongoing climate change and sea level rise may favour the formation of tropical cyclones (TCs) globally, putting more population and economic activities in the TC-prone coastal zone at risk. Many studies have conducted TC risk and impact assessments on the social or economic aspects. However, attention to vegetation risks and resilience under TCs remains inadequate. With the increasing literature unveiling vegetation’s benefits on carbon sequestration, global warming mitigation, and disaster risk reduction, vegetation could potentially facilitate the mitigation of climate change and extreme weather events. From conservation and planning perspectives, the potential of these benefits could be maximized by establishing protected areas (PAs) and promoting nature-based solutions (NbS). However, damage to vegetation due to recurring TCs and unsustainable vegetation management would be an utter setback for the realization of sustainable development. Thus far, there has not been a methodological approach that integrates the totality of vegetation resilience (from initial impacts to damage recovery to subsequent growth) with spatial-temporal and multivariate perspectives. Therefore, this project aims to recentre the role of vegetation resilience monitoring in TC disaster management by developing a spatial-temporal multivariate index, named Temporal-Weighted Relative Resilience (TWRR), which will be suitable to monitor vegetation resilience comprehensively and reflecting vegetation dynamics in various aspects (e.g., vegetation health, vegetation structure, and cover, etc.). The application of the index will be demonstrated in the case of Hong Kong, a densely compacted volumetric city with extensive established PAs and urban vegetation that are highly exposed to recurring TCs. Comparing and analysing the resilience differences between vegetation in protected (PAs) and non-protected areas (nPAs) in Hong Kong could provide valuable policy implications on vegetation planning and disaster risk management in the global coastal metropolitans.

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