Urban Greening in Macao
Due to land reclamation along its coastline, Macao has grown in land area from 11.6 square kilometres in 1912 to 33 square kilometres in 2022, including the New Urban Zone Area A and the Macao border crossing area on Zhuhai-Macao checkpoint on the Artificial Island of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. The Hengqin campus of the University of Macau covers an area of one square kilometre. Macao consists of the Macao peninsula and the two islands of Taipa and Coloane. Three bridges, Nobre de Carvalho Bridge, Friendship Bridge (Ponte da Amizade) and Sai Van Bridge, link the peninsula to Taipa, while the two islands are linked by COTAI Reclamation Area.
The population of Macao is estimated to be 671,900 in 2022.
Macao is situated in a subtropical zone, with the Asian continent to the north and a wide tropical sea to the south. In winter, Macao experiences a north wind, cold and dry weather and low rainfall, due to a cold continental high-pressure system at medium and high latitudes. In summer, Macao is mainly subject to southwesterly winds, hot and wet weather and heavy rainfall, due to the influence of oceanic tropical weather systems.
Macao has an average annual temperature of 22.8ºC. The coolest month is January, when it averages 15.2ºC. Most years, Macao has a short, cold weather period when temperatures fall below 5ºC. The average monthly temperature exceeds 22ºC during seven months of the year.Macao is frequently hit by typhoons. The typhoon season starts in May and ends in October, with July to September as its peak period.
According to the newly revised “Standard for Classification of Urban Green Area in Macao” (2015), the urban green area of Macao, which is mostly managed by the Department of Gardens and Green Areas of the Municipal Affairs Bureau (IAM), amounted to 12.3 km2 in 2020, accounting for about 36.4% of the total land area of Macao at that time, and the urban green area per capita was approximately 18.05 m2. They are further classified into parks/gardens, leisure areas/green belts, hill forests, greening along roads and re-forested areas in terms of management.
Parks, gardens and leisure areas in Macao
There are 42 parks and gardens across the city, mainly located in the northern, eastern and southern areas of Macao Peninsula, and four country parks on the outlying islands. Parks and gardens are places where people come together and enjoy their leisure time activities for a longer period of time. Their design focuses on greening and landscaping, as well as provision of appropriate ancillary facilities, such as areas for ball games, children's play equipment, libraries, swimming pools and electric cars for kids, which makes their management more complex and demanding. Although many of the parks and gardens were built long time ago, they are to the liking of modern visitors with plants arranged in various patterns and in layouts reflecting the characters of the parks and gardens. The variety of aromatic flowering plants used in their landscaping includes Prunus persica (Peach), Prunus mume (Japanese Apricot), Phyllostachys nigra (Black Bamboo), Eucharis grandiflora (Amazon Lily) and Rhododendron (Azalea).
There are altogether 74 leisure areas citywide, mainly distributed along the streets and alleys of densely populated districts and in open spaces in between urban residential blocks of Macao Peninsula. With improvements made to the environments of urban blocks through enhanced greening and introducing leisure facilities, leisure areas are the popular places where people interact, enjoy some relaxing moments and pleasing greenery.
Forest conservation and management
In recent years, Macao has been hit by several super typhoons which have caused severe devastation of mountain forests. Moreover, the vines have grown rapidly and covered vast areas of the forests, affecting the normal growth of the forest trees and hence, the forests are unable to restore naturally. In order to quicken the restoration of the ecological environment of mountain forests in Macao, the Municipal Affairs Bureau has commenced various items of the restoration plan of mountain forests successively from 2018 onwards. In 2022, the third phase of the restoration plan was completed, with about 15,000 seedlings planted in the surrounding forest areas of Hac Sá Reservoir Natural Park and Taipa Grande Natural Park making a total of 15 hectares.
In 2022, the fourth and fifth phases of the restoration plan of mountain forests commenced in September and November respectively, with the aim of restoring 35 hectares in each phase making a total of 70 hectares. For the restoration of a smaller area of about 5 hectares in the Guia Hill area in the fourth phase, 3,100 seedlings were planted and inspected upon receipt smoothly in late December and they have entered the maintenance period. In September and early November, restoration work for the fourth phase in the Coloane area, including the area to the north of Ká Hó Hill / the south of Estrada do Altinho de Ká Hó and Alto de Coloane, and for the fifth phase, including the C zone to the south of Estrada do Altinho de Ká Hó, Ká Hó Hill, Oscar Farm and the area to the north of Ká Hó Reservoir, commenced successively in an orderly manner. The restoration work for the fourth phase in the Coloane area, including the area to the north of Ká Hó Hill / the south of Estrada do Altinho de Ká Hó and Alto de Coloane, and for the fifth phase, including the C zone to the south of Estrada do Altinho de Ká Hó, Ká Hó Hill, Oscar Farm and the area to the north of Ká Hó Reservoir, is expected to be completed in the second quarter and third quarter in 2023 respectively.
For making further use of the re-forested areas, IAM has created a number of freshwater wetlands, in which it has achieved initial results. Of the 14 walking trails in the outlying islands, 12 of them are in Coloane, with some that are inter-connected to create a walking trail network.
Greening along roads
Macao is a densely populated city with limited land resources and very few arterial roads. It is difficult and challenging to add greenery into the meager spaces available along traffic roads. The old urban districts have no conditions for road greening, so it can only be done in the newly developed areas through advanced planning in their urban design. In Taipa and Cotai area, where new urban districts have been created, land has been reserved for greening purpose in road planning. But for the old downtown of Macao Peninsula, which is packed with building blocks coupled with narrow roads, there is hardly any room for greening. As a solution to the scarcity of space, IAM spares no effort in locating spaces for greening across the various districts of Macao, including the outlying islands. To this end, a variety of plants have been grown around the columns of footbridges and overpasses, and on the roofing of garbage disposal facilities. Climbing plants and shrubs are planted, where feasible, to embellish the urban landscape through vertical greening. When there is no way to enlarge the green space along roadsides, IAM enhances their conditions through improving soil quality, installing water irrigation system, replacing current vegetation with new varieties, and using different plants of complementary colours, such as Iresine herbstii (Beef Steak Plant), Duranta erecta (Golden Dewdrops), Ficus microcarpa (Golden Chinese Banyan), Casuarina nana Sieber ex Spreng. (River Oak), Zanthoxylum piperitum (Japanese Pepper), Furcraea foetida (Giant Cabuya), Schefflera arboricola ‘Jacqueline’ (Cream Dwarf Umbrella Tree), Schefflera actinophylla (Endl.) Harms (Octopus Tree) and Cordyline fruticose (Iron Plant), and flowering plants like Allamanda cathartica (Allamanda), Bougainvillea spectabilis (Brazil Bougainvillea), and aromatic plants like Osmanthus fragrans (Fragrant Olive). In addition, ornamental tree species, such as Terminalia neotaliala (Madagascar Almond Tree), Dracontomelon duperreanum (Indochina Dragonplum), Koelreuteria elegans (Flamegold Rain Tree), Garcinia subelliptica (Common Garcinia), Ficus benjamina ‘Variegata’ (Weeping Fig), Jacaranda mimosifolia (Jacaranda) and Crateva unilocularis (Spider Tree), are selected for street trees to create different street scenes in different districts.
Encouraging the populace to get involved in urban greening
The effectiveness of greening initiatives depends not only on the resources and manpower allocated by the government but also requires the coordination and involvement of the general public. For the idea to take root in people’s minds, IAM organises “Macao Green Week” on a yearly basis and holds plant-themed exhibitions and activities regularly aside from making constant improvement to the green cityscape. It has introduced the “Incentive Scheme for Greening Macao” to encourage greening homes and school campuses, and promote greening and care for the nature across the population.
Productive greening contributes to better life quality, promotes tourism and benefits the local ecosystems. IAM will be as committed as ever to greening and encourage the public to play their part in jointly turning Macao into a greener and more livable city.