Chinese on tour of nature reserves
By Lynda Arakawa
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Lynda Arakawa
A delegation of conservation officials and nature reserve managers from China have been meeting with Hawai'i officials here, their last stop in a monthlong program to study conservation management practices in the United States.
The tour — which included visits to such places as New York's Adirondack Mountains, California's Yosemite National Park and Haleakala National Park — aims to help China better manage its nature reserves, which have roughly doubled in the past decade, said Ian Dutton, deputy director of The Nature Conservancy's Asia Pacific Region.
"This is a chance to look under the hood of the U.S. Parks Service experience to really learn from 100 years of experience in the United States and therefore more rapidly build the capacity in China to better manage these protected areas," Dutton said.
The tour, which began in Beijing and ends in Honolulu on Tuesday, is part of a five-year China Protected Areas Leadership Alliance Project, a partnership between the Chinese government's State Forestry Administration, The Nature Conservancy's China Program, the East-West Center, and Tsinghua University in Beijing.
The Hawai'i visit began a few days ago on Maui, where about 30 delegates took a guided hike in The Nature Conservancy's Waikamoi Preserve and visited Haleakala National Park.
Their time in Honolulu included presentations from Denise Antolini, director of the Environmental Law Program at the University of Hawai'i law school, and UH School of Travel Industry Management dean Walter Jamieson.
"The important issue that inspired me and my colleagues is the local people and the government ... emphasize ecological and environmental protection very much, especially about invasive species management," said Lucy Yu, manager of the China Protected Areas Project for The Nature Conservancy's China program.
Dutton said invasive species is among the issues increasingly important to China.
"There are some tremendous examples here in Hawai'i of conservation of protected areas," Dutton said.
Today the group is scheduled to visit Hanauma Bay to get briefed on the highly regulated tourist destination and how managers deal with the significant human impacts in the area.
"That has a lot of use for China, where the population pressures on all these protected areas are enormous," said Carol Fox, director of Strategic Planning and Partnerships at the East-West Center.
Yu said the Chinese government has made efforts toward environmental protection and wants to improve the management skills of the state forestry administration.
She said China's first nature reserve was established in 1956. Now there are more than 2,900 nature reserves, covering about 16 percent of China's land area, officials said.
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Reach Lynda Arakawa at firstname.lastname@example.org.