Bhutan’s Conservation Spirit
by Christy Wong (WWF One Planet Youth Leadership)
I participated in the Our Living Planet environmental education camp organised in January by WWF Bhutan and learned a lot during my time there, including understanding Bhutan’s environmental education that I wanted to take back to Hong Kong.
One step at a time
Looking at the sky in Bhutan and thinking about the changing nature inspired me to encourage more people to cherish and protect it. There’s always some memorable daily activity, whether it’s birdwatching , identifying species, picking up litter on the hillside, singing around the campfire, listening to birds chirping and the sound of a flowing stream, or enjoying the local food. All of these experiences helped me understand that nature can be even more colourful from a different perspective. Some people may say that it’s difficult to change our wasteful habits, but I believe that if we change our lifestyle a step at a time, we can make a big difference over time. So don’t underestimate the change you’re capable of!
Nature as a puzzle
How do the Bhutanese treat nature? Every tree and bush matters! Slowing down and paying close attention to them by using your various senses: using your ears to listen, eyes to observe, letting your nose inhale the flower’s fragrance, and feeling the leaves’ texture.
Nature is like a puzzle, each piece is unique that if we lose one, it would be difficult to repair the entire puzzle.
The Bhutanese government attaches great importance to environmental protection because they realise that nature is priceless so they’re willing to balance economic development with environmental protection.
That’s why upon returning to Hong Kong and hearing about the many development policies being introduced made me sad as some of the proposals will damage the environment. But I believe we can lessen human’s impact on the environment so long as we persist.
Promise to keep
Do you recall past pledges to stop using plastic bottles and straws? Easier said than done, right? As someone who grew up in the city, I used to find excuses for not refusing plastic. Until this trip, where the Bhutanese children made a deep impression on me.
There was an activity that asked kids to pledge to stop using plastic straws. The next day, I noticed they were drinking directly from their cardboard beverage without plastic straws. “We want to fulfil our promise and let nature know,” they said.
Connect with nature through action
Living in a fast-paced society, it’s easy to forget to smile. In Bhutan, the common colourful prayer flags fluttering in the wind soothes the mind leading me to think whether that’s the reason why the local people always wear a smile.
I asked a local kid about his dream job in the future, to which he firmly replied, “botanist.” He hoped to use his interest and what he has learned to contribute to Bhutan’s natural environment.
Upon my return to Hong Kong, I received these messages from one of my Bhutanese friends: “Today, I held a small sharing activity with my classmates at school. I went to observe plants and watch birds with my classmates in the countryside. I organised an education activity for some local residents.”
His message reminded me that connecting people with nature is similar to how people connect with each other, through actions.
This unforgettable trip to Bhutan taught me how humans can coexist with nature. I hope that in future, Hong Kong can find a balance between economic development and environmental protection, just like Bhutan. I firmly believe that if we all contribute to the environment, the earth’s future will be bright!