Hi, my name is Heather. I’m a 28 year old Australian currently living and working in rural China – and this is my first official blog entry (ever!).
About a month ago now I had the privilege of meeting Mei Zhang, who was visiting my home during one of her, no doubt many, trips around China in search of new, beautiful and meaningful places to bring WildChina clients. After offering my help in any way I could, she suggested I start a blog through the WildChina website, to share my experiences. This was an offer too good to refuse – and somewhat timely after recently completing a group email to my friends and family the length of War and Peace!!
For the last six months, I have called Huayang home. Huayang is a small Chinese country town located in the Qinling Mountains of Shaanxi Province, approximately 5 hours from Xi’an (where the famous Terracotta Warriors are found). It has a total population of approximately 6,800 people and comprises 11 villages. Picture rice paddies, fresh air, pine, and bamboo-covered mountains, no westerners, and buying fresh fruit and vegetables directly from the farmers on the main street … all this, set to the soundtrack of children laughing and birds singing – this is my current home Huayang.
The reason that I have ended up living in this beautiful town is that I am currently working for Changqing Natural Nature Reserve (CNNR), using my environmental knowledge and experience to assist where possible in minimizing the impact of development and eco-tourism to the Reserve. CNNR was formerly a timber production site, however after large numbers of giant panda were discovered here, a collaboration between government, scientists, and international conservation organizations resulted in logging being outlawed in 1994. By 1995 the area became an established Nature Reserve, which was upgraded to ‘National’ status in 1997. While 1,556 species of seed plants and 311 vertebrate species are found here, CNNR is most famous for the presence of all Four Treasures of the Qinling Mountains: Giant Panda, Takin, Golden Monkey and Crested Ibis.
Over the next few months, through weekly blogs at this site, I hope to share some of my experiences – a foreigner living in rural China and working for a newly established Nature Reserve. Please, please – feel free to ask me any questions or make comments. I am hoping that this will be a good Q&A forum as well as my weekly updates.