什么是自然体验 About Nature Watch
Valley of the Cats Nature Watch is a community-based ecotourism project. According to the IUCN, ecotourism refers to "environmentally responsible travel and visitation to relatively undisturbed natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and any accompanying cultural features—both past and present) that promotes conservation, has low visitor impact, and provides for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local populations". In 1987, the United Nations published the report "Our Common Future", which identified the need for sustainable development and resource conservation. Since then, ecotourism, which contributes to both socioeconomic and environmental benefits, has entered both the academic and public eye. In addition to the most commonly used term "ecotourism", tourism programs based on natural landscapes and biodiversity are also described as "sustainable tourism", "nature watch", "nature observation", "conservation tourism", "green tourism", etc,.
With the growing concern for the lives of people living in nature reserves, community-based ecotourism is considered by more people as a much desirable solution for achieving conservation and development with the focus on the direct participation of local communities in project management and operation. Nature watch program integrates nature conservation and social development. By serving as guides and host families, local herders can earn an increased amount of income and realize that protecting their home landscape and wildlife will benefit their own families and communities, thus diminishing the possibility of consuming natural resources in exchange for money.
两届自然观察节 Nature Watch Festivals
Prior to the official launch of Nature Watch Pilot Project, two nature watch festivals were held in Angsai. Nature watch enthusiasts from all over the world came to the pilot national park to observe wildlife and also to provide their valuable input to the construction of the national park. These two nature watch festivals also allowed herders to experience for the first time the meaning and responsibility of being a guide.
From August 17-22, 2016, the People’s Government of Zaduo County, Yushu Prefecture, the Management Committee of Lancang River Park in Sanjiangyuan National Park, Shan Shui Conservation Center and Peking University Center for Nature and Society jointly held the First Lancang River International Nature Watch Festival in Angsai, Zaduo County, Qinghai.
Over the course of 4 days, 14 teams identified and recorded the distribution of animals, birds and plants through videos and images, helping to establish the baseline data of Angsai Lancang River Valley. Preliminary statistics showed that a total of 10 mammal species, 61 bird and 93 plant species were recorded. Behind the fruitful harvest of each participant, there was also invisible progress. The local community received the most participation and benefit from this nature watch model that focused on biodiversity awareness and viewing.
From July 21-24, 2018, Angsai held the Second International Nature Watch Festival. 20 teams from China, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and other countries participated in this festival, during which 13 mammal species, 73 bird species, 315 plant species and 4 reptile species were recorded.
昂赛自然体验项目 Nature Watch in Angsai
With the experience of Nature Watch Festival, Shan Shui, the community, local government and other nature conservation enthusiasts began to form some ideas -- they hoped to figure out a model that could integrate the demand of species conservation, community development, public participation and government management. Since then, the local community cooperative of Angsai, with the support of Shan Shui Conservation Center and local government, has launched a series of nature watch activities, with local herders serving as nature watch guides and host families and leading nature watch participates to view rare wildlife such as snow leopards, enjoy the natural and cultural landscape, and experience pastoral life.
From 2018 to 2020, the cooperative has worked with Shan Shui Conservation Center to conduct 7 comprehensive guide training sessions for 21 selected host families. These sessions include in-home training of cooking skills, hospitality services, and general health knowledge for each family respectively.
Shan Shui has also discussed many times with the community to complete the design of the management mechanism, including the cooperative’s management charter and the code for nature watch participants. It has also completed the design of a series of nature program products, including the trilingual manual, bilingual host family manual, and materials of host families and established the website “Valley of the Cats” for the promotion and reservation of Angsai nature watch program（valleyofthecats.org.cn）.
At the same time, Shan Shui has assisted the community to hold several meetings. In addition to the more important decisions such as selecting host families, changing the term of management team, etc., it also helped with the discussion of details in aspects of management and hospitality. There were inevitably arguments and repetitions of opinions, but it was through these adjustments and changes that the community members became more involved, and promoted the constant improvement of nature watch program with a more in-depth understanding and thinking.
After many discussions and negotiations with members of the cooperative, Angsai Nature Watch Program started to adopt a collective community revenue distribution system at the end of 2018. The current charging standard is 1,000 RMB/car/day for transportation and guide, and 300 RMB/person/night for food and accommodation. 45% of the total proceeds from the project will be earned by the host families, 45% incorporated into a community fund for public affairs, and 10% used for ecological conservation in the Angsai area (e.g. establishing a community wildlife conservation fund).
The program started in 2018. By 2021, the Angsai Nature Watch program has hosted 169 nature watch teams from around the world with a total of 479 visits, bringing in over 1.73 million RMB in total revenue to the community, including approximately 950,000 RMB in community fund and an average increase in income of 37,000 RMB for host families.
“大猫谷”的愿景 Our Vision
" We want to discuss and improve with the community step by step to see how to adjust to the maximum extent with the market based on the attitude and willingness of the community. In general, we hope to find a balance between the main body of community and the will of visitors, traditional preservation and modern services, individual herders and community collectives, as well as equity and efficiency. We are also making observations and recordings as we go.
Here, we spend a lot of time discussing with the community because we want to see the value of collective action rather than to break the structure of the community through marketization. If a community can keep some distance from the outside, it will adapt better to policies and find the most suitable way to cope with them."
短片 Short film：
《大猫谷——人与雪豹的可能》“Valley of the Cats - the Possibility for People and Snow Leopards”
If the snow leopard project of Shan Shui needs a complete narrative, the story of the Valley of the Cats is definitely the most suitable one. Starting with snow leopard monitoring and research, we have been trying to tell the story of a place where it is possible for human and snow leopards to coexist. Such efforts were later combined with the construction of Sanjiangyuan National Park system pilot project. What does nature watch bring to the public? What do concessions mean to the local community? What kind of nature watch does the public expect? What kind of concessions do local communities need? Someone once said that compared to the experience of exploring concession pilot project in national parks, the value of the Valley of Cats is more about this social experiment it has started.
公众号文章 WeChat Official Accounts Articles (in Chinese)：
关于自然体验 有几句话想告诉关心国家公园的你 (A few words about nature watch for those who care about national parks)
地球日主角，我想留给那些离大地最近的人 (The Protagonists of Earth Day are those stand closest to the earth)
这个牧民合作社，为什么可以申请国家公园第一个特许经营权？ (Why is this cooperative able to apply for the first concession in the national park?)
在大猫谷，我们把自己作为方法 (In the Valley of Cats, We make ourselves the solution)
当我们不在大猫谷找雪豹的时候，我们在做什么 （When we are not looking for Snow Leopards, what are we doing in the valley?)
昂赛科学志愿者手记：与国家公园一同成长 (Memo from Angsai Scientific Volunteers: Growing with our National Park)
在真实的昂赛，自然体验是“最不重要的” （In Angsai's reality: Nature Watch is the "least" important)