- Fellowship in 1986 at University of Alberta
Research Chair Professor, Education University of Hong Kong
Chair Professor Emeritus, University of Hong Kong
Honorary Professor, University of Hong Kong
Professor Jim read geography and geology at the University of Hong Kong, which awarded him a BA (First Class Honours). Under the aegis of a Commonwealth Scholarship, he studied soil science at the University of Reading (UK) for his PhD. He then pursued a Certificate in Hydrology at the US Geological Survey.
He began his academic career at the Department of Geography, the University of Hong Kong. Initially delving into the urban ecology realm, he has since expanded his repertoire to a basket of cognate fields. They encompass urban forestry, urban soil science, urban climatology, urban green infrastructure, urban nature conservation, nature-based solutions for sustainable cities, and urban greening as a climate change solution. As a devoted disciple of the multidisciplinary approach, he has explored the conservation, creation and refinement of nature-in-city from diverse perspectives.
Urban forestry constituted the core of his early research domain, from which he has branched into the inherent traits, vicissitudes, distribution, constraints, opportunities, and ecological and landscape designs in relation to urban greenery. The eclectic scope of his work covers some key topics: tree species composition and diversity, species selection strategy, soil properties and limitations, soil improvement and design, soil structure and moisture regime, and microclimatic amelioration induced by trees. Besides urban nature's physical and life science, his investigations have spread to the social science and management aspects.
His study areas concentrate on densely-developed and populated urban areas, including large and compact metropolises. His field studies have extended from Hong Kong to other Chinese cities, London, Melbourne and Tokyo. A broad range of habitats has been evaluated to comprehend the varied interface between nature and people in built-up and disturbed sites. They include urban parks, roadsides, ruderal areas, old stone walls, old buildings, rooftops, building facades, and recreational and camping sites in country parks,
Professor Jim firmly believes in translating research findings for practical use in the community. He has participated extensively in knowledge transfer activities, serving as a public scientist to disseminate in plain language the handsome fruits of research endeavours to society at large. He is a leading advocate of high-quality and generous urban greening despite the daunting limitations of compact cities. His publications invariably include a section on the application and management of research outcomes.
He has participated actively in coaching the next generation of researchers and scholars. As a sole supervisor, he has thus far supervised 52 postgraduate research students to graduation. His doctoral graduates have taken up academic and professional practice posts in Hong Kong and other cities. Some of them have since become full-fledged scientists and professoriate members.
The government, public corporations, green groups and tertiary institutions have earnestly tapped his knowledge and experience. He has been appointed to serve on a broad range of government advisory committees. They include town planning, transport planning, urban greening, rural land use, country and marine parks, ocean park, biodiversity conservation, administrative complaints, nature education, extra-mural studies, degree programme accreditation, and private university governance. His community service has been recognized by the Justice of the Peace and Badge of Honour awards.
Some prestigious awards have duly recognized Professor Jim's research performance and contributions. The Chadwick Award was bestowed on him by the International Society of Arboriculture for distinction in tree-science research. The ISI Essential Science Indicator (now Clarivate Analytics) has rated him as a top 1% Scholar of the World since 2012. The Stanford University study placed him as a top 0.1% Researcher of the World in the Built Environment and related disciplines since 2020. In a study in 2015 based on the ISI Web of Science, he received the accolade of the world's most-cited scientist in the urban greening field.
Keywords: Urban ecology; Urban forestry; Urban tree; Urban
climate; Urban soil; Urban green infrastructure; Urban park; Green roof; Green
wall; Nature-based solution; Spatial ecological planning; Climate change
L.C. Chadwick Award, International Society of Arboriculture, for research distinction
Top 1% Scholar of the world, according to Thomson Reuter's Essential Science Indicators
Most cited scholar of the world in the field of urban greening, based on ISI Web of Science
Leader of Urban Ecology Research Group
Researcher, Teacher and Advocate of Nature-in-City, including urban ecology, urban green infrastructure, urban forest, urban park, green roof, green wall, urban turf, urban soil, climate-change adaptation, and urban nature conservation
Main research thrust
- My core research interest lies in urban ecology, interfacing with urban forestry, urban green spaces, green roof, vertical greening (green wall), urban design and landscape planning, soil science, and environmental impacts of recreation and tourism, with a geographical focus on Hong Kong and the south China region.
- My research orbit is distinctly interdisciplinary, as exemplified by the wide range of journals that have published my research findings, encompassing the disciplines of geography, forestry, arboriculture, ecology, urban planning, soil science, earth science, environmental engineering, nature conservation and environmental management.
Urban ecology and urban forestry
- Impacts of urbanization on tree species composition and diversity
- Ecological functions and environmental benefits of urban trees
- Species evaluation and selection for urban planting in humid-tropical cities
- Ecology and management of champion-heritage trees and trees on old stone walls
- Environmental benefits, energy conservation and ecology of green roofs and vertical greening
- Statutory aspects of urban tree planting, management and protection
- Concepts and techniques of transplanting large specimen trees
- Economic valuation of ecosystem services of urban vegetation and green spaces
- Leisure and recreational use of urban green spaces
Urban soil science
- Soil structural degradation, compaction and porosity variations
- Soil moisture and temperature variability in different urban habitats
- Soil nutrient availability and heavy metal pollution in different urban habitats
- Soil and site design and amelioration for urban landscape planting
Urban impingement on countryside
- Recreational trampling and camping impacts on soil and vegetation
- Environmental impacts of tourism and recreation
- Ecotourism development and visitor management in recreational areas
- Environmental problems associated with non-conforming land uses in rural areas