The Future Is Bright

Something exciting is happening…

Over the last few months I have visited several universities, state and international schools in Beijing to speak about birds and the environment, and accompanied several classes on birding field trips to sites in and around Beijing.  As part of my environmental education work with EcoAction, I have also participated in an exciting new project to develop an “environmental curriculum” focused on wild birds.  I am pleased to say this “environmental curriculum” has been approved by the government and is now being piloted in two Beijing state schools by EcoAction’s founder Luo Peng.

Students at Dulwich School, Beijing, receiving Swarovski keyrings after their class about birds.

The environment is almost completely absent from the Chinese state curriculum and our aim is to help fill the gap by providing schools with supplementary classes dedicated to the natural world.  As well as classroom-based theory, including lectures by professional scientists, the environmental curriculum includes practical exercises, field trips to some of Beijing’s best birding sites, investigative studies – for example of Beijing’s wild bird markets – and learning how to communicate nature by writing basic scientific or media reports about their findings.

Our hope is that we can develop and expand the pilots to cover more schools in Beijing before engaging schools across China and, ultimately, making ourselves redundant by influencing the national curriculum.

Students enjoying their first sighting of COMMON BUZZARD at Miyun Reservoir.

Through all of my engagement thus far, I have been so impressed with the enthusiasm and depth of engagement of the students.  Their sense of wonder and awe about all things natural reminds me very much of my youth when I began to discover birds and the environment in which they live.  If we can help just a little to make, and nurture, that connection with the environment, I am confident that the leaders of tomorrow will make more enlightened decisions.

After a field trip with one Beijing school, students were asked to choose their favourite species, to draw it and to learn about its life, including its migration, food and habitat requirements. I don’t need to tell you that this student chose the Great Crested Grebe!

You can keep up to date about the latest engagement with schools on a new dedicated Education page.


7 thoughts on “The Future Is Bright”

    1. Thanks Dick! Of course, we are using the story of the Beijing Swift (and hopefully soon Beijing Cuckoos!) to help inspire students. So you have played a big part, too..

  1. Very impressive! But you say that migration in or around Beijing is bigger than anything you have seen in Europe. Does that include Falsterbo or Bulgaria?

    1. I have visited Falsterbo only twice and never been to Bulgaria. My opinion is based on personal experience in the UK and Denmark. I suspect that raptor passage is probably, overall, bigger at Falsterbo than Beijing, however passage can be very impressive here with more than 1,000 Oriental Honey Buzzards logged in a day from Baiwangshan, a raptor watchpoint, earlier this year and diversity is rich, including Japanese, Chinese and Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Goshawk, Pied, Hen and Eastern Marsh Harrier, Common, Upland, Rough-legged and Grey-faced Buzzard, Black-eared Kite, Common and Lesser Kestrel, Peregrine, Saker, Merlin, Hobby, Amur Falcon, Greater Spotted, Steppe, Imperial, Short-toed, Golden, White-tailed and Booted Eagle and Cinereous Vulture. Regarding passerine migration, I have recorded 50,000 Little Buntings in a single day at Miyun Reservoir and Paul Holt has logged more than 8,000 Horned Larks in a day, too. In addition, the numbers of migrants to be found on a given spring or autumn day in Beijing’s parks and other birding sites is higher than anything I experienced in the UK or in Denmark.

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