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The rapid development of birdwatching in mainland China: a new force for bird study and conservation

  • ZHIJUN MA (a1), YIXIN CHENG (a2), JUNYAN WANG (a3) and XINGHUA FU (a4)
Summary

Birdwatching is a popular activity in western countries where it has helped to integrate research into birds, bird conservation, and socio-economic development. We analysed the development of birdwatching in mainland China and its roles in bird study and conservation using a standard questionnaire and interviews. Birdwatching in mainland China began only recently (in the 1990s). The increased numbers of foreign birdwatchers visiting China promoted birdwatching there. As of 2010, a total of 36 local birdwatching societies had been established, and the number of birdwatchers exceeds 20,000. The development of birdwatching has been positively correlated with local economic conditions–that is, the number of birdwatchers is much greater in economically developed areas than in relatively undeveloped areas. Birdwatchers have not only contributed to a greater understanding of the population status of birds in China but also promoted bird conservation at the local level. Although China’s conservation policies are currently formulated and implemented in a top-down manner via government regulation, with little contribution from local individuals, the rapid development of birdwatching reflects an improved understanding of conservation by local communities and growing participation in conservation initiatives by local people and organisations. We predict that with the continued development of China’s economy, birdwatching will further develop and play an increasing role in China’s conservation policies and practices. This is important as China is a country with a high rate of endemism and many globally-threatened species

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Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence. email: zhijunm@fudan.edu.cn
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Bird Conservation International
  • ISSN: 0959-2709
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