Department of Geography and Resource Management (GRM), The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Research Collaborations

A Multidisciplinary Study of Trail Degradation, Mechanism and Virtual Geographic Environment

Private: Prof. NG Sai Leung



Leung Yu Fai (North Carolina State University), Lin Hui (CUHK)

Project period:

1 Jan 2015 – 31 Dec 2017

Funding source:

RGC GRF Grant, Hong Kong SAR Government

Funded amount:

HKD 680,683.00


Trails are the essential infrastructure in parks and protected areas, serving important functions of protecting natural resource and landscape while providing recreation and tourism opportunities. In recent decades, the demand for nature-based tourism and recreational use of country parks in Hong Kong has increased dramatically. To support visitor use, a network of trail, consisting of 4 long trails (total length = 298 km) and 63 short trails, has been established in the territory. However, many of these trails have degraded over time probably because of recreational overuse and a lack of appropriate maintenance. Degraded trails not only are visual eyesores, but also create difficult and unsafe travel conditions. Furthermore, soil erosion associated with trail degradation may cause negative impacts on the local biodiversity. Eventually, trail degradation and erosion will translate to depletion of both renewable and non-renewable resources and deprivation of ecological integrity of an area. Although adverse aspects of trail degradation and erosion have been mentioned recurrently in Hong Kong, the performance of present trail management is far from satisfactory probably because of lacking information, knowledge and effective management means. With this in mind, this study will examine the threefold issue of degradation, erosion and management of a popular hiking trail in Hong Kong. To be specific, this study will involve:

• Characterization of trail degradation and identification of controlling factors
• Investigation of factors, processes and mechanisms controlling trail erosion
• Construction of a Virtual Geographic Environment for trail management

This research represents the first multi-disciplinary attempt to examine trail degradation and trail erosion in a unified platform. It is expected that this research will encourage the integration and advancement of knowledge in of two disciplines, namely recreation ecology and soil erosion. This research not only will develop the best fit model for trail erosion in Hong Kong, but also will contribute to the scientific understanding of trail degradation that inform trail management in protected areas within the region such as south China. Furthermore, this research will establish a paradigm for trail management in Hong Kong. Such findings and results of this research are expected to be attractive to both local and international readers.