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Ecological and Landscape Rehabilitation of a Quarry Site in Hong Kong

Authors


Address correspondence to C. Y. Jim, email hragjcy@hkucc.hku.hk

Abstract

Quarrying for granite in Hong Kong, mainly for construction aggregates, has left huge and unsightly scars on the landscape. Recent government policy demands rehabilitation of the disturbed lands and restoration of the landscape adopting the ecological approach. At an active quarry, a method was tested for controlled restoration: blasting of the vertical rocky production faces to pile up the debris and to form artificial slopes that mimic those of the environs in a landform replication approach. On the scree blast piles, a soil cap of fine-earth materials with organic amendments was installed to grow mainly tropical leguminous trees. The restoration trial largely failed, with extensive death or poor performance of most plants. The inability of the soil and the site to support vegetation was investigated. The main physical problems are shallow solum, large cavities in the bouldery substrate, high stone content, excessively coarse texture, compaction, and limited available-moisture storage. The main chemical problems are the lack of nitrogen and phosphorus related to the meager organic-matter content, low cation exchange capacity, and base saturation. Suggestions are made to ameliorate habitat conditions for plant growth in a comprehensive ecosystem-reconstitution package that encompasses the landform, hydrology, microclimate, soil, and plant assemblage. Recommendations are given on the application of organic amendments to establish and maintain soil structure, restore decomposition regime, and raise nutrient and moisture storage capacities for a modified approach that could overcome the site difficulties.

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