We’ve been working with the Laojunshan nature reserve in Pingshan, China since it established over 15 years ago, and Chester Zoo’s science director, Dr Simon Dowell has been involved in the project since the start.

Below he tells us more about his latest trip to China and how the project is developing:

Dr Simon Dowell, science director of Chester Zoo
Dr Simon Dowell, director of science

Chester Zoo’s support was vital in providing training in biodiversity survey and monitoring, wildlife law enforcement and use of technology to facilitate management. In time we were also able to support community projects, public awareness campaigns and education work that has raised awareness amongst the local population and reduced damage from unsustainable activities like wood cutting and medicinal plant collection.

Dr Simon Dowell
Simon Dowell with Benping Chen
Mr Benping Chen, director of Laojunshan Nature Reserve, and Dr Simon Dowell
Silver pheasant. credit Song He, Laojunshan Nature Reserve
Stunning silver pheasant. Photo credit: Song He, Laojunshan Nature Reserve

As well as Laojunshan, Simon also visited the newest of the five reserves that we have supported; Qincaiping nature reserve in the neighbouring Muchuan county where the presence of the Sichuan partridge has recently been confirmed from footage from one of the camera traps funded by this project.

Simon did come across a Sichuan partridge nest close to a forest trail.

This reserve is protecting an important strip of broadleaf forest providing a habitat corridor for birds, plants and other wildlife that links Laojunshan with larger forest patches further west. Our support for the team at the nature reserve has already enabled them to establish galliforme monitoring transects and undertake essential survey and monitoring work.

Simon also attended a meeting of all the managers of the nature reserves that we have supported through this project to hear about progress and discuss future directions for the project.

Simon Dowell and participants in Sichuan Forest Biodiversity Project
Simon meeting the managers of the nature reserves