"A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."

– Greek Proverb

"A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."

– Greek Proverb

About TREF

Forests play a crucial role not only as natural habitats but also as valuable material resources and vital carbon sinks for climate mitigation. Tree removal is however an inevitable consequence with urban development and extreme weather conditions in Hong Kong.

Timber Research & Education Foundation (TREF) aims at capturing scientific data from salvaged felled tree resources in Hong Kong to build up a useful tree database for research, strategic forestry management, and to promote carbon negative and nature-based solutions through education.

With Hong Kong as a starting point, TREF is set up in 2021 and based in Wang Chau of New Territories, as a registered charity under Inland Revenue Ordinance (IRO) s88 (IR File No. 91/17552).


A world with sustainably managed and healthy forests and active communities of tree lovers.


To safeguard and enhance sustainable forestry resources for future generations through timber research and environmental education.


Sustainable Earth

TREF advocates for the restoration of forest ecosystems on abandoned farmland, which can help sequester carbon dioxide and become valuable carbon sinks and natural resources for future generations. By studying carbon storage capabilities of trees and cultivating them, we are seeking new opportunities for sustainable forestry and ecological development in our local area.

Green circular economy

TREF advocates the use of locally sourced salvaged timber from felled urban trees for construction projects to reduce the need for imported wood and promote the use of ecological materials. By reducing waste and carbon emissions, we aim to establish the foundation for a circular economy and promote the use of salvaged timber as a sustainable building material.

Our Work

TREF is set to safeguard and enhance our forest resources via two foci:
local tree and timber research, and public environmental education on the value of sustainable forestry.

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In collaboration with HK Timberbank, our research team smoothly conduct timber sampling and obtain sustainable salvaged timber from felled trees by engaging local organisations, professional arborists and contractors.

Forestry Carbon

With support from The University of Hong Kong Master of Environmental Management and local timber upcycling partner HK Timberbank, our foundation is leading a collaborative forestry carbon research by utilizing salvaged timber resources.

Working with arborists to sample from locally felled trees, we investigate the species-specific carbon density and quantification techniques.

  • To provide robust scientific data on carbon capture and storage capabilities of various tree species;
  • to create local tree carbon database;
  • to lay the groundwork for creating carbon dense forestry to maximize carbon sequestration potential.
Brown Root Rot Heat Treatment

Brown root rot (BRR) is a prevalent tree disease that often leads to tree felling. To recycle timber from felled trees, it is essential to ensure that the disease-causing fungus Phellinus noxius is effectively eliminated from the wood to prevent further spread of BRR and to make sure that the salvaged timber is safe for use. TREF is currently conducting tests on conditions to kill off P. noxius from harvested timber in Hong Kong climate.

  • To conduct heat treatment tests at various temperatures and time conditions to kill off P. noxius;
  • to provide statistics and guidelines of heat treatment as a solution for disease-free and safe-to-use salvaged timber;
  • to increase the quality and quantity of timber salvaged from BRR infected trees, including OVTs.

In collaboration with HK Timberbank, our research team smoothly conduct timber sampling and obtain sustainable salvaged timber from felled trees by engaging local organisations, professional arborists and contractors.

Timber Species Physical Properties

Many local tree species, despite not being farmed for timber, produce fine quality wood. Hence, salvaged timber harvested from felled trees could serve as a sustainable structural material and help reduce yard waste and the consumption of commercially farmed timber.

To safely and effectively apply salvaged timber for structural use, it is essential to understand the mechanical properties of different timber species. This study will reveal species-specific mechanical properties of salvaged timber harvested from various common tree species in Hong Kong through laboratory testing of various indicators.

  • To investigate physical and structural characteristics of local timber species;
  • to establish local timber species properties database;
  • to promote and support the use of locally upcycled timber in architectural and building construction;
  • to advocate the choice of tree species in government tree plantation and consideration for afterlife use after tree decease in the future.
tree nursery
Sustainable Experimental Tree Nursery

As one of our upcoming targets, our foundation is planning to support local reforestation efforts via setting up a sustainable experimental tree nursery, starting in Hong Kong. This will not only contribute to reforestation and forest protection, but also serve as important research sites for grounded, robust forestry studies and other scientific advancement.

  • To support and elevate government reforestation efforts;
  • to provide valuable research grounds for forestry-related studies and future experiments.
  • To identify idle vacant land (private or publicly owned land) to create urban tree nurseries;
  • to setup traceable, sustainable and carbon dense tree nurseries;
  • to organize local tree planting programmes and events with local NGOs and corporate sponsors.
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Environmental Education & Outreach

TREF envisions to promote principles of sustainable forestry and circular bioeconomy through public environmental education. Our foundation organizes eco-talks, tours, and workshops for schools, corporate entities, and the public.

We are also co-curating a Hong Kong timber museum, with support from local timber upcycling partner HK Timberbank and volunteers, as a thematic educational resource.

  • To cultivate a new generation of environmentalists to advocate for sustainable forestry;
  • to prepare and curate a Hong Kong timber museum for timber specimen archival and public education.


When you donate to our foundation, you are supporting scientific research to safeguard sustainable forests and promote quality environmental education to cultivate an eco-aware future. Your generosity is greatly appreciated.

Collaborative Fundraising

We gladly welcome collaborative fundraising. Please email to ask@tref.green for further information and discussion with our team.


If you find our work interesting and would like to support any aspect of our work by joining the TREF volunteer team, please email to ask@tref.green for further information and discussion with us.


Please direct general enquiries to ask@tref.green.