​How Hong Kong Became – and Un-became – ‘a barren rock’

How Hong Kong Became - and Un-became - ‘a barren rock’

Mid-nineteenth century photographic images of Hong Kong and its immediate hinterland graphically depict a bare, denuded landscape, while half a century later, the new colony’s hillsides were rapidly becoming covered in trees. How did this process of mass deforestation – which happened in the decades before British acquisition – and a remarkable return to greenery and natural diversity – occur?

In this heavily illustrated lecture, we will explore the regional economic pressures that caused mass deforestation from the 1750s onwards, and the key, interlinked roles of reliable water supply creation for a burgeoning city, regional botanical gardens, and Victorian ideas of civic improvement that helped create the landscape which we enjoy today in our countryside.