Closing the Loop: Integrating Stormwater Management for Climate Resiliency

Abstract

Freshwater supply in Hong Kong is climate dependent and it is uncertain upon the changing climate. Since 1965, Hong Kong has been importing freshwater from Dongjiang (East River) as the major water source, contributing 70-80% of current consumption. Local yield from protected catchment becomes the remaining and secondary source of supply. This thesis criticizes the conservative water policies and fragmented management framework in Hong Kong. The growing reliance on imported water has led to inertia of long-term freshwater sufficiency. With a projection of increasing rainfall yet longer drought period, there is a need to cater stormwater drainage and freshwater stability to enhance climate resiliency. Meanwhile, almost 90% of rainwater are discharged as stormwater to waste under separate management parties. A potential is observed to increase rainwater harvesting as alternative water supply through integration of freshwater and stormwater management. This thesis attempts to explore the potential of using stormwater as new freshwater sources for domestic water use in Hong Kong. Water management on stormwater and freshwater has been reviewed across scales, zooming in from infrastructural level to districts and communities. With the unique topographic setting and water quality control in Hong Kong, it takes advantage to increase potable water collection in hillside catchment and maximize stormwater harvesting in urban areas. A new integrated system is proposed to reduce flooding in low-lying urban areas and increase local water supply to develop a greater community resiliency on climate change.

Keywords: freshwater supply; climate resiliency; stormwater management; rainwater harvest; flooding

Longer-term landscape assessment: Feedback strategies for incorporating sustainability science in China’s rural development planning

Abstract

This thesis is about how to incorporate sustainable science in China’s rural development planning. China’s rural reform has always been the focus of the central government. However, as the model of sustainable rural development and promoted nationwide, the “Anji pattern” is not environmentally sustainable. Without the continuing exploitation of bamboo as a resource, Anji will decline as a place associated with a “sustainable” image. (Wang et al., 2008) The village-level rural development plannings are controlled by project standardization documents and higher-level plannings that are representing the dominant worldview. Thus, the planning mechanism should be redesigned to achieve environmental sustainability. For counties that most villages have completed construction, we can only make reactionary adjustments for the existing problems. For counties that have not been planned, a proactive planning method should be adopted with the new science. This thesis uses the InVEST model to predict before planning. And the assessment results show that the application of new science can improve environmentally sustainable. Also, there is a warning that there has to be a critical reflection on the technical tools. In the future, there will be an innovation to value the environment. Furthermore, every time, there have to be people (i.e., landscape architects) who are able and willing to challenge the process and make things more sustainable.

Keywords: rural development; Anji pattern; environmentally sustainable; InVEST model; Zhuji

Negotiating with ethno-ecology: Landscape management strategies for northern Laos’s ecotourism boom

Abstract

Today’s cultural tourism is a fragmented display of signifiers, a discriminating break of the primitiveness, and an indifferent journey for tourists. Behind all these homogenized culture representations, we are aware of a larger system imposed on a larger geography that constantly sustains the cultural landscape and it is greater than any tourism developers want to provide. The territory of culture is much larger than what we designers are aware of. In the modern knowledge system, scholars condense culture to a concept, a discipline of study. However, for designers, this concentration means simplification and laziness leading to only seeing culture representations rather than culture itself. While for developers, this concentration becomes an intrigue to commodify and homogenize the culture. Indigenous people will have ambiguous answers to the question of culture or nature, primitively. However, they know how to sustain their land and retain their identity as the owner of the land, which is exactly where their dignity is. They are much closer to the land than we are and the connection is sacred and spiritual. They live within one system. It’s a not A system we should design, it is the system they design. Negotiation is an ever-changing and inclusive process that is capable of keeping the issue on the table and forestalling the implementation of top-down plannings. To enable villagers to have greater authority over their land and preserve their dignity, we purposely focus on expanding the culture territory by concisely calculating and representing the territory without reducing its complexity. With this rigor and complexity, landscape architecture is giving villagers the ability of translating their introvert perception of land to the extrovert view of culture to negotiate for their future on their own.

Keywords: northern Laos; tourism development; ethno-ecology; negotiation; culture territory

Scientific stewardship: Indigenous and ecosystem territories across the China-Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor

Abstract

For the past few decades, Laos experienced numerous changes in political, environmental, and social policies. In a shift towards a more sustainable paradigm, the Government collaborated with international organisations and local NGOs, to implement community forest programmes to restore and conserve existing forests. Integrating two development project types: A scientific research plot, and a Community Forest along with their respective institutions: The Chinese Academy of Science and The Chinese Academy of Forestry. We propose to stitch the two separate institutions together, to cooperate on a project in Laos that presents an equitable future. Moreover, we use this opportunity to merge their respective expertise. Developing their existing research in decomposition and traditional pharmaceutical species, these are integrated into the programmatic aspects of the design through encouraging a multi-scalar approach to planning. By weaving them together, within the greater scope of scientifically oriented research plot, we can increase indigenous control over the territory. Currently, the issue with this system is that all the research is benefiting the national and provincial levels in terms of scientific output. The component of equitability is absence from the interventions carried out on the landscape. Especially, with the extending regional ambitions of these institutions studying landscape ecology across the region, we have to focus on local sites and potential impacts and opportunities that are raised with indigenous communities and indigenous rights over the landscape. Impacts of a successfully integrated control mechanism of the two institutions can allow for direct and indirect outcomes. Which in return, provides a more sustainable source of income, employment, and education through the transferral of knowledge, technology, and infrastructure from an institutional to a local level.

Keywords: Laos; scientific research; community forestry; indigenous rights; knowledge transfer

 

Water risk and responsibility: A political-chemical land genealogy for the Muang Sing Valley, Laos

Abstract

The project hope to achieve two main objectives by looking into the co-relationship between banana plantation and the Nam Ha Irrigation dam located in Northern Laos. First, to develop a more sustainable irrigation water model, with better quality and quantity. Second, to build up a balanced irrigation management strategy, so as to ensure equal and equitable access to irrigation water. Through research of data collection and online literature, a category of defining risks is developed for different groups according to biophysical characters, stakeholders’ capabilities, and operation mode. In respect of potential risks, this research project highlights the unequal distribution of water resources resulting from the difference in economic power among farmers. Traditionally, the main source of water being used for irrigation purposes is surface water, with groundwater consumed by human beings for drinking purposes. Whilst the construction of the Muang Sing Irrigation Dam increased the overall water storage in Laos, the water is mainly consumed by Large-scale landowners or joint-ventures parting with foreign-invested companies because of their relatively high price. As such, small households are being excluded when it comes to the usage of water resources reserved by the Dam. Afterward, the water storage of Dam will normally be distributed to middle-income families, which are in partnership with foreign corporations. Although small families could still gain access to natural water resources, under the current water management model they could rarely be benefited from the construction of the Dam. The remediation strategies aim to advocate to a fair distribution of resources according to the wealth and risk resistance evaluated previously. Another issue is the contamination accumulation of Cavendish banana plantations among the time due to high inputs of herbicides, pesticides, and fertilisers, whose harm remains in the soil for an extended period and threats the water quality. Thus, remediation strategies aim to improve the quality and equality of irrigation water in the long run by implementing various methodologies after the assessment on the degree of contamination.

Keywords: Muang Sing; irrigation model; water dynamics; equality and equity; sustainability

Empowering a labour transition during enclosure and securitisation of Luang Prabang’s natural heritage

Abstract

Bears are critical to the ecosystem. Despite their ability in fertilizing forest, dispersing seeds and as predators to maintain wildlife populations in balance, bears are also a good indicator for natural heritage: if the land is sustainable for bear population, then it is also healthy enough to support local livelihoods. In 2003, Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre (TKSBRC) in Luang Prabang was constructed by Free The Bears in collaboration with the Laos Department of Forestry, expanded to Luang Prabang Wildlife Sanctuary (LPWLS) in 2017 and housing over 55 bears in 2019. Further expansion then becomes critical upon the insufficient habitat and unsustainable financial system for nursing bears, which was proposed as the Luang Prabang Protected Forest (LPPF). Yet, the overstated bear bile usage give rise to illegal wildlife trade and bear farming in Laos for its enticing economic benefits, endangering the bear community as well as the ecosystem. The encroachment of the planned Luang Prabang SEZ development 10km away from the protected forest hence leads to labour competition for LPPF. The forthcoming tourism influx as well drives our project in increasing ecotourism capacity in the protected forest. This project aims to conserve LPPF for bear releasing, develop a nature sensitive and local equitable ecotourism plan and build resistance towards illegal wildlife trade with LPPF as a pioneering project for alternative conservation model in Laos. From reforesting the protected forest and buffer zone, ecosystem services establishment, rewilding bears within the wildlife sanctuary, to optimizing securitization of protect forest and ecotourism development, we see the urge to bring bears back to the nature with developing a comprehensive conservation and management system in protected forest against wildlife poaching. We also wish for the participation of local communities from 5 nearby villages and to be a part of the project, in which we see the importance of maintaining local livelihood and cultural stability within indigenous communities. We dare to empower locals and hope to allow elasticity in ecosystem services of protected forest, provide job opportunities with economic advantages as well as ownership to resources. Numerous strategies would be carried out within the protected forest, including a selected small-scale planting scheme in the controlled use zone for forest boundary protection, large-scale planting in degraded areas to provide sufficient food and shelter for bears, ecosystem services in the protected forest through forest guiding and ranging for tackling illegal wildlife poaching. We as well anticipate in building capacity on knowledge of wildlife trade for villagers and tourists, and to withstand illegal poaching from the casus belli. Ultimately, we contemplate in challenging the traditional forest protection model with excessive policing, and remodel LPPF as an alternative model for locals’ livelihood on natural heritage.

Keywords: Luang Prabang; labour transition; bear rehabilitation; reforestation; forest securitization