Birding Beijing was launched in August 2010 by Terry Townshend, a British conservationist living and working in Beijing. Through this website he celebrates the birds and other wildlife that can be found in and around China’s vibrant capital city. He is indebted to the growing number of birders and wildlife enthusiasts in Beijing who contribute a huge amount to the content found on this site.
A passionate conservationist, Terry has spearheaded efforts to raise awareness about, and help save, some of China’s most endangered birds, in particular the Jankowski’s Bunting, a poorly known bird living in remote northeast China. In 2012 he became a Species Champion with BirdLife International.
Terry is dedicated to encouraging the public, especially young people, to learn, and care, about the environment. He initiated projects to track some of Beijing’s iconic birds, including the Beijing Swift and the Beijing Cuckoo, involving local schools and discovering for the first time that both species undertake incredible migrations to southern Africa for the northern winter. The projects gained high-profile media coverage, including on BBC 1 TV, BBC Radio 4, full-page articles in Beijing Youth Daily, Beijing Evening News, The Guardian, The Independent and front page of the New York Times.
In 2017, working with ShanShui Conservation Center at Peking University, he initiated a groundbreaking community-based wildlife watching tourism project in the Valley of the Cats, a spectacular location on the Tibetan Plateau with a high concentration of apex predators including Snow Leopard, Leopard, Wolf, Lynx and Asian Brown Bear. Twenty-two Tibetan yak herder families host visitors in strict rotation and, with 100% of the income staying in the local community, the project allows visitors to explore this special part of the world whilst supporting the local people and Snow Leopard conservation. By the end of 2019, this project had brought in over 1 million Chinese Yuan (GBP 115,000) for the community.
Terry has a prominent media profile, often being asked to comment on environmental issues and featuring on mainstream TV, radio, lifestyle magazines, national and international newspapers.
With a professional background in environmental law, Terry was the lead author of the first two editions of the groundbreaking Global Climate Legislation Study, examining climate change-related laws across the world, and remains a co-author today. He has presented the results of the study to the US Senate, Mexican Congress, Japanese Diet and the South Korean National Assembly, and was an adviser to the Chinese government on the development of their climate change law. In 2020 he co-authored a ground-breaking study entitled “Financing Nature: Closing the Global Biodiversity Financing Gap“, examining how much is spent on nature conservation today, how much is needed over the next ten years, and how to close the gap.
Terry has found several new species of bird for Beijing, including the capital’s first Tree Pipit in the UK Ambassador’s garden. In early 2015 he took up a Directorship with EcoAction, a new and innovative Chinese company dedicated to ecotourism and environmental education. Since 2016 Terry has served on the judging panel for the annual ShanShui Nature Watch Festivals and is an advisor to the local government in Yushu, Qinghai Province. Terry is also an advisor to the Beijing municipal government on a project to make Beijing better for wildlife and, in 2018, became a Fellow of the Paulson Institute, advising its conservation programme.
In 2021 he was awarded a gold Beijing Citizen Award by 新京报 (Beijing News) for services to the environment, the first foreign recipient in its history.
Terry serves as a member of the BirdLife International Global Advisory Group and is a Brand Ambassador for Swarovski Optik.
Photo: Terry birding on The Great Wall by Marie Louise.
You can contact Terry via the form below.