By Yao Xueqing, People’s Daily
Yancheng in east China’s Jiangsu province, home to a World Natural Heritage site and accredited by the Ramsar Convention as an international wetland city, boasts a coastline of 582 kilometers and a total area of 4,553 square kilometers of tidal flats.
It houses the largest coastal wetland on the edge of the Asian continent and on the west coast of the Pacific Ocean, which serves as an important resting, feeding, and molting ground for migratory birds along the East Asian-Australasian flyway.
Developing coastal wetland resources for nature education is one of the focuses emphasized in a 2023-2035 development plan on nature education released at the 2023 China Nature Education Conference.
Yancheng, leveraging its local wetland resources, has dug into popular science development. It has built specialized venues, innovated popular science formats, and encouraged social forces to hold diverse activities, in order to form a synergetic force for nature education.
The Yellow Sea Wetland Museum in Yancheng is a treasure trove. It houses over 1,000 exhibits, including precious specimens of sperm whale skeletons, red-crowned cranes, elks, and spoon-billed sandpipers. It also offers an immersive experience with a large-scale digital sand table, a holographic display, and a dynamic monitoring platform for the Yellow Sea wetland.
The museum has five permanent exhibition halls focusing on themes of international wetland city, the Yellow Sea ecological zone, bird migration, muddy coast and human-nature harmony, unfolding a beautiful picture of the harmonious coexistence between man and nature.
In the museum, there is a holographic display that vividly presents the migratory routes of birds in 4D animation, an interactive display wall that brings together 436 bird species in Yancheng, and exhibition boards that showcase popular science knowledge about the biodiversity on muddy coasts, which attract a huge number of citizens and tourists.
Wu Qijiang, chief curator of the exhibition and director of the Yancheng Wetland and World Natural Heritage Site Conservation and Management Center, noted that that Yancheng’s unique natural resources are exactly the foundation for the city to carry out natural education.
According to Wu, the five permanent exhibition halls of the museum have gone through over 100 adjustments and received 83,000 visits since the museum started trial operation in 2022.
Yancheng is leveraging the museum to build a main base for nature education. In addition to the Yellow Sea Wetland Museum which systematically tells wetland stories, nature conservation organizations in the city such as the Yancheng Wetland and Rare Birds National Nature Reserve and the Dafeng Milu National Nature Reserve have also launched special exhibitions for visitors.
Besides, some schools and public institutions in the city have allocated hundreds of square meters from their office space to build “mini museums,” showcasing the evolution of wetlands and secrets of birds to teachers, students and the general public.
Apart from venue construction, the local government has innovatively developed various forms of science popularization, both online and offline, to create a comprehensive science education platform.
In 2019, the Yancheng Wetland and Rare Birds National Nature Reserve, in cooperation with the municipal education bureau of Yancheng, published a nature education book themed on Yancheng’s wetlands. Every primary and secondary school in the city has received a copy.
Staff members of the Dafeng Milu National Nature Reserve also visited surrounding communities and collaborative institutions, to launch public legal education and science popularization campaigns, while establishing joint protection mechanisms.
The Yancheng Wetland and World Natural Heritage Site Conservation and Management Center has established an official website and accounts on social media platforms, publishing nearly 500 science popularization articles.
In recent years, social forces in the city have hosted a variety of educational and scientific activities, which have been well-received by the public.
Since the Migratory Bird Sanctuaries along the coast of the Yellow Sea-Bohai Gulf (Phase I) in Yancheng was inscribed on the World Heritage List as a natural site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in July, 2019, the Yellow Sea Wetland Museum, the Yancheng Wetland and Rare Birds National Nature Reserve, the Dafeng Milu National Nature Reserve, the School of Wetland of Yancheng Teachers University, as well as social educational institutions, have launched diverse and engaging educational activities, attracting primary and secondary school students to explore the wetland and discover the nature.
Jiangsu Yellow Sea Wetland Culture Development Co., Ltd., an enterprise focusing on wetland-themed business, education and research, has created a cartoon figure based on the endangered migratory bird, the spoon-billed sandpiper. The figure has been printed on T-shirts, cups, fans and other products sold in the gift shop of the Yellow Sea Wetland Museum.
Xu Hongxin, general manager of the company, told People’s Daily that the popularity of the figure exactly mirrors the process of nature education in people’s hearts