Tongbiguan Provincial Nature Reserve in the southwestern corner of Yunnan is the only tropical region of the Irrawaddy River in China and supports a rich and unique biodiversity. It doesn’t only have the largest patch of dipterocarp rainforest in China, but is also home to a birding haven known as Nabang Wetlands that is highly regarded by local and international birders.
Tongbiguan is also the only site in China where breeding of the Great Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill and Great Slaty Woodpecker is currently confirmed. Biodiversity surveys by the Kadoorie Conservation China Department (KCC) revealed new-to-science species including Yingjiang Tree-hole Frog, Purplish-brown Leaf Litter Toad, Yingjiang Leaf Litter Toad and Anderson's Reed Snake.
However, ethnic minority groups living in the area for centuries rely heavily on forest resources, posing huge pressure to the nature reserve and community forests. The once verdant rainforests across the river in Myanmar have experienced severe deforestation, and the ecosystem of the whole region is being degraded.
KCC has been collaborating with Tongbiguan to engage the local community to better protect its unique biodiversity. We promoted and trained locals to set up community-protected areas that serve as wildlife sanctuary, research base and ecotourism destination; and install eco-friendly facilities on site, such as composting toilets and an ecological agriculture system. We also helped Nabang Village establish a birdwatching society to promote community-based bird conservation. The society’s members started to plant rice and corn again to provide food for their feathery neighbours, protect forests to safeguard bird habitat, and build bird hides to provide a better birdwatching experience.