How to move 1000 year old trees

More than 1000 heritage camphor trees, some over 1000 years old, have been relocated across multiple Chinese provinces to feature in Shanghai’s new Amanyangyun Hotel.

Landscape designer Dan Pearson worked with Kerry Hill Architects to design the hotel, which opened earlier this year, and the adjoining public park.

The project began a decade ago when Chinese businessman Ma Dadong learned that the government’s plans for the Liao Fang reservoir would submerge ancient camphor trees and villages. He planned for them to be moved 800 kilometres from the Jiangxi province to the outskirts of Shanghai. The sheer size of the trees - some of them were 20 metres tall and the largest weighed 80 tonnes - meant that new bridges and roads has to be built in order to move them.


Almost 80% of the trees survived the relocation, and the 40 Ming Dynasty merchant houses which were also recovered from the flooding zone now make up part of the Amanyangyun Hotel.

The 70 buildings that form the hotel complex each have their own garden, and these create an assortment of habitats that reference former agricultural practices and traditions. As Pearson says, “the design for the park is very much about cultural heritage, as well as capturing some of the natural environment and preserving it for the future.”


There is a productive garden for the hotel’s kitchen and restaurant, and the park will feature cultivated terraces to be gardened by the public. Pearson says these spaces will allow the community to “continue to grow vegetables and be in contact with a part of their culture which is still very much in evidence.”


All the plants within the park will be native, and a passive water management and purification system will reconfigure existing agricultural canals so that they feed into a central lake.  The project truly creates a ‘green lung’ in an area that will shortly be consumed by rapid urbanisation.

The first phase of the public park is due to open later this year, and future phases within the next three to five years.