China actively contributes to global biodiversity conservation: Japanese entomologist in Yunnan

Photo shows Akihiro Nakamura, a Japanese entomologist working at the Xishuangbanna
Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG), a tourist attraction and research institute under the
Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), in southwest China’s Yunnan province. (Photo/Official
website of the XTBG)

Working at the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG), a tourist attraction and
research institute under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), in southwest China’s
Yunnan province, is a right choice, said Akihiro Nakamura, a Japanese entomologist who has
worked there since 2013.

According to Nakamura, XTBG boasts rich biodiversity and is one of the botanical gardens in
the world with the most outdoor plant species and the largest number of plant groups on
public display, as well as an excellent environment for carrying out research into the ecology
of insects.

“Besides, it has a friendly atmosphere for foreign researchers, so I decided to settle and
pursue my career here,” he said, talking to People’s Daily about his job with great joy.

XTBG is an insect’s paradise located in Menglun township, Mengla county, Xishuangbanna
Dai autonomous prefecture of Yunnan. A large number of insect species, including fireflies
and butterflies, live there.

In 2013, Nakamura accepted the invitation of XTBG to serve as the leader and researcher of
the canopy research team of the tropical botanical garden. Since then, he often climbs to the
top of trees for the study of insects.

In 2019, Nakamura won the “Caiyun Award”, Yunnan’s highest honor for foreign experts, for
his remarkable contributions to biodiversity conservation in China.

According to Nakamura, there are over 100 foreign researchers from more than 30 countries
in XTBG. “We international researchers have the same access to research funds from the
National Natural Science Foundation of China, the CAS, and the Chinese government as our
Chinese colleagues,” he said.

Nakamura is conducting an international research project with scientists from the Czech
Republic, Thailand, Brazil, and other countries to learn the variation of insect diversity with
latitude and elevation and assess the impacts of climate change on global insect diversity and
ecosystem functions.

“I have witnessed how China has progressed in ecological civilization construction,”
Nakamura said, noting that the Chinese government has paid more and more attention to
biodiversity conservation in recent years.

The idea that “lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets” has taken root in
Chinese people’s minds, and their awareness of wildlife protection has been continuously
improved, the researcher said.

According to Nakamura, The Chinese government is willing to listen to the advice of
scientists and has formulated proper measures to safeguard biodiversity.. Recently, the
Chinese government has helped a herd of wild elephants that wandered away from their
traditional habitat return home with minimal intervention and avoided severe human-animal
conflicts during the process, which he considers a perfect example of China’s scientific

biodiversity conservation and management.

Nakamura is full of expectations of the ongoing 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties
to the Convention on Biological Diversity that kicked off on Monday in Kunming, the capital
of Yunnan.

“Biodiversity is essential to human health and well-being. I hope countries can strike the right
balance between economic development and biodiversity protection and set practical goals to
minimize habitat degradation and biodiversity loss,” he said.

Insects are irreplaceable “ecosystem service providers,” contributing to pollination, nutrient
cycling, and pest control, and play an important role in predicting climate change, pointed out

“We need to collect information about insets from all over the world. International
cooperation is beneficial to biodiversity conservation,” he said.

China has met some of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets ahead of schedule, reflecting the
country’s significant progress in ecological civilization construction, said Nakamura, adding
that the country has actively contributed to global biodiversity conservation and is a global
leader in protecting biodiversity.

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