Interpretation conversations in China

Category: Asia regional news, International news, Services

Published: December 12th, 2023

The Project Manager for International Engagement at WWT, Alex Hughes, writes this summary of her recent visit to multiple wetlands, visitor centres, and wetland communicators in China. 

In November, I had the fantastic opportunity to spend nearly two weeks in China hosted by our partners at MCF (Mangrove Foundation). I connected with WLI members and also found a new home for one of the WLI 30th anniversary artwork posters by Seppo.

Dongying Yellow River estuary November 2023 by Alex Hughes

The Yellow River Delta Symposium held near Dongying City focused on education and engagement. I presented on interpretation techniques, mainly messaging through storytelling and using different tools to deliver conservation messaging. The next day we had a very beneficial closed discussion including wetland education and international connections with teachers in the area. My WLI team-mates Chris Rostron and Connor Walsh presented online about network, so you may see some new members in the region soon! I joined a filed visit to Shandong Yellow River Delta National Nature Reserve. It was beautiful and abundant with wildlife including oriental storks, dalmatian pelicans, and Siberian cranes.

Alex Hughes, Terry Townshend, Hu Huizhe at Dongying Yellow River estuary China Nov 2023

Poyang Lake was my second stop. It is the largest freshwater lake in China and famous for the Siberian cranes and finless porpoise. Here, I delivered a longer interpretation workshop focussed on ideas from the staff and what they felt was important messaging for the site. I spent a day and a half carrying out some advisory services on wetland centre interpretation and design, at various sites around the lake.

Alex Hughes with Dr Li at Poyang Lake, crane rescue, China

I had the pleasure of meeting Dr Li, known respectfully as Grandpa Li, who was working in a community-run wetland in Poyang Lake. Dr Li is an award-winning poet and conservationist who has spent his life rehabilitating birds on the lake.

He was kind enough to show me his conservation journals, each accompanied by a poem that he had written that day. If you go to Poyang Lake, you can see evidence of his poetry all around the wetland. His stories were beautiful, and I was holding back tears on hearing one particular story about a crane who he had previously helped, that had stopped to visit him on returning from migration.

Alex Hughes with group at Chongming Dongtan in China, November 2023

In the last view days of my trip, I visited WLI member and Star Wetland Centre Chongming Dontan with Ms Hu Huizhe from MCF, where I delivered another interpretation workshop. It was a pleasure to be able to connect with a WLI member and visit their brilliant centre. At the end of the day we were able to go out and see the tundra swans and oriental white cranes at sunset. A wonderful way to end the trip.

Alex Hughes birdwatching at Chongming Dongtan, China

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