|A teacher guides a student at a wetland nature school in Suzhou.|
Providing nature education to the public, especially in suitable areas, is a good way to protect wetlands in a sustainable way.
Suzhou, a city in East China's Jiangsu Province, is among the cities that have enacted legislation to protect wetlands. The establishment of several wetland-based nature schools is one of the city's well-received approaches to protecting the wetlands.
"The idea of establishing nature schools, based on wetland parks, came about when I took my daughter to some parks. It was often crowded in the parks on weekends, and there were few nature-themed activities in the parks. I thought nature education was in demand," Feng Yuqing, head of Suzhou Wetland Protection Station, recalls.
In 2012, the station established the first wetland nature school, at Taihu Lake National Wetland Park. It is the first nature school of its kind in Suzhou to popularize wetland-related knowledge among the public. Suzhou is celebrated for its beautiful gardens. Feng hoped, when they traveled to wetland parks in Suzhou, people would be able to attend a course on nature.
Feng believes a professional team should provide public-nature education. Since 2016, staff at wetland parks in Suzhou have received training in guide services, course design, and the compilation of environmental-education books.
Wetland nature schools in Suzhou have courses on wetland species, wetland biodiversity, and wetland culture and protection. People can take the courses that interest them. The courses have been developed based on local resources, and they are being taught by nature-education professionals.
Suzhou Wetland Protection Station recently established a mode of operation for the development of wetland nature schools, and that mode involves guidance of industrial-management departments, commercial operations and volunteer services. The schools help people experience and understand wetlands, and the schools teach people to respect nature and protect the environment.
American biologist Edward O. Wilson has been quoted as saying humans are born with the desire to commune with nature. Nature-related education can help people get close to nature.
During the era of building a community with a shared future for mankind, people should be more active in adapting to nature, and especially in protecting nature.
|Observers at a wetland nature school in Suzhou|
Learning in Nature
The women employees at Suzhou Wetland Protection Station have devoted themselves to protecting the wetlands in Suzhou. They have adopted a system that rates wetland parks according to the diversity of birds, quality of water and publicity, and education-related work at the parks. They have also established a system for producing and releasing annual reports on the protection of wetlands in Suzhou.
The station has set up 100 bird-observation and 103 water-quality-monitoring areas in Suzhou. It collects more than 7 million pieces of data used for evaluating the rehabilitation of wetlands each year. The employees have made unremitting efforts to improve water quality in the wetlands, and that has helped rehabilitate aquatic plants and enrich the variety of fish and species living at the bottom of water in Suzhou.
Since 2012, when the first wetland nature school was established in Suzhou, women employees at the wetland protection station have participated in science-popularization-themed volunteer services and activities. They have trained nature-education instructors and volunteers, with whom they have worked to guide members of the public as they have explored the nature in wetland parks.
The employees have also compiled textbooks on the birds, plants and insects commonly seen in Suzhou, and they have organized camping activities so members of the public can participate in animal and plant observation and water-quality monitoring. Their efforts have achieved good results in promoting wetland research and nature education, and in promoting wetland-related science knowledge.
There are 11 wetland nature schools in Suzhou. Of those schools, Taihu Lakeside Wetland Nature School, Changshu Shajiabang Wetland Nature School, Wujiang Tongli Wetland Nature School and Kunshan Tianfu Wetland Nature School have been named national forest and grassland science-popularization bases.
Teachers at the schools are volunteers from all walks of life. Nature is the schools' campus, and students are guided to feel happiness from living in harmony with nature.
|Observers at a wetland nature school in Suzhou|
Families Source of Volunteers
In 2022, the wetland nature schools, Suzhou Women's Federation and several other institutions launched a program to cultivate minors into "little wetland scientists." The program helps children develop their interest in nature, and it helps the children improve their ability to study, observe and investigate independently during nature-related activities. Children who develop a good command of wetland knowledge are likely to become volunteers who guide visitors at the wetland parks. By the end of 2022, some 200 children had become volunteer wetland observers, investigators or guides.
Parents are encouraged to learn the skills needed to shoot and edit short videos, so they can record their children performing volunteer services.
Fan Jingcheng, deputy head of Suzhou Wetland Protection Station, says the program has resulted in many families becoming involved in wetland protection.
Photos Supplied by Suzhou Wetland Protection Station
(Women of China English Monthly February 2023 issue)
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