The guardians of biodiversity: Protecting the ‘energy station’ for the Asian dowitcher

Editor’s Note: Everyone can be a guardian of biodiversity conservation. In China, these guardians contribute to biodiversity conservation in their own unique ways. Follow “the Guardians of Biodiversity” video series to have a look at these adorable animals and learn about these guardians’ protection efforts.

In this video, we focus on the Asian dowitcher as May 22 marks the 24th International Day for Biological Diversity.

The Asian dowitcher is a shorebird with a long bill just like a bubble tea straw. When feeding, it plunges its long bill into the mud like a sewing machine. Every spring, nearly all the Asian dowitchers worldwide visit Lianyungang, East China’s Jiangsu province, to refuel for their long-distance migration. Click the video to get a closer look at these cuties and see how Friends of Nature, an NGO in China, get involved in species protection.

102 newly revealed architectural heritage projects aim for better protection

Pingyao Ancient City, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in Northwest China's Shanxi Province Photo: VCG

Pingyao Ancient City, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in Northwest China’s Shanxi Province Photo: VCG

A total of 102 architectural heritage projects have been included in the 9th Batch of China’s 20th Century Architectural Heritage Projects for  the better protection of the heritage in Chinese architecture in the 20th century. Experts said China has transitioned from “cultural relic protection” to “cultural heritage protection,” and this awareness will provide new possibilities for urban development and cultural preservation, according to the report of China News on Sunday.

The list of projects in the 9th batch of China’s 20th century architectural heritage is revealed at the “Public Vision of 20th Century Heritage – Introduction of the 9th Batch of China’s 20th Century Architectural Heritage Projects and Seminar” held in Tianjin on Saturday, which included Tianjin Ancient Culture Street, the people’s congress hall in Ningbo, East China’s Zhejiang Province, Jiangxi Provincial Art Museum in East China’s Jiangxi Province among others, China News reported.

An academic highlight of the event was the release of the China 20th Century Architectural Heritage Annual Report (2014-24) blue book. 

According to reports, the significance and value of the blue book publication lie in summarizing the development process of China’s 20th century architectural heritage over the past decade, praising the achievements of China’s 20th century architectural heritage over the past decade, and proposing the future development vision of China’s 20th century architectural heritage.

Industry insiders delivered keynote speeches, examining the concept of 20th-century architectural heritage from different perspectives. They also provided attendees with a new perspective on the activation and utilization of architectural heritage from an international standpoint. Other participating experts shared their design experiences, insights, and feelings in heritage preservation and development.

Shan Jixiang, chairman of the China Cultural Relics Academy and director of the Academic Committee of the Palace Museum, said that “activation” is the focus of the protection of these buildings. “20th century architectural heritage is not ‘frozen,’ but changes with the times. A historical building or zone must be given today’s functions, used correctly, and utilized reasonably.”

“Compared with traditional wooden ancient buildings, industrial heritage has a wider range of uses.” Taking Beijing’s Shougang Park as an example, Shan introduced the importance of “activation.” 

“Shougang Park used to be a steel production base, but has now become an industrial heritage park after ceasing production. Many large-scale cultural, tourism, and sports activities are taking place in Shougang Park, and its functions are constantly expanding,” Shan said.

He added that protecting 20th-century architectural heritage is not just the task of the government or cultural departments but the responsibility of all people. 

Only when the general public understands the value of these heritage sites and their significance for future generations will they be carefully preserved, gain “dignity,” and become a positive force for economic and social development, benefiting the daily and cultural lives of more people.

Regarding the current situation of the protection of Chinese cultural heritage, Shan told the Global Times that China has transitioned from “cultural relic protection” to “cultural heritage protection”; from only protecting ancient cultural relics to protecting contemporary and 20th-century cultural heritage; and from only protecting “a bridge or a tower” to protecting corridors for commodity trade and cultural exchange.

“The activation of buildings” not only continues the value of historical heritage but also provides new possibilities for urban development.

“The 20th century architectural heritage builds a bridge between the past and the future. We should balance the relationship between protection and activation, paving the way for future urban construction and cultural preservation,” Shan said.

Encountering Phayre’s leaf monkeys in Yunnan

Well-known for its rich biodiversity, Southwest China’s Yunnan province serves as an important genetic reservoir for both animal and plant species. The province is currently home to 542 species of wild plants and 386 species of wildlife that are under first-class state protection.

In the lush forests of Mangshi, a county-level city in Yunnan, lives a troupe of Phayre’s leaf monkeys, totaling around 320. This is currently the largest known population of Phayre’s leaf monkeys in a single region within the country.

Phayre’s leaf monkeys, characterized by their petite size and gentle nature, are under first-class state protection. An array of protection measures have been taken since their discovery, creating a favorable living environment for the monkeys.

Watch the video to find out more about these cute creatures.