Multidisciplinary Study of Trail Degradation, Mechanism and Virtual Geographic Environment
Private: Prof. NG Sai Leung
This project is funded by the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong.
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 and more than 60 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