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BGCI Supports Collaboration Between Botanic Gardens: the Environment and Artistic Photo Exhibition, Sound of Nature at Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanic Garden

Volume 3 Number 2 - July 2006

Duan Qi-wu, Xu Ling, and Zhu Hong-xiang

With sponsorship from a 2004/05 BGCI Travel Scholarship, two young technological staff members of the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanic Garden (XTBG), China, Duan Qi-wu and Yan Tao, undertook three-weeks training from 27 February to 20 March 2005 at Hong Kong's Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden (KFBG).

During the study period, KFBG organized artistic activities to turn the theories of scientific education into practice, thus increasing the public's awareness of environmental conservation. Duan Qi-wu of XTBG actively maintained a close relationship with KFBG's Education Department and the Xishuangbanna Prefecture Commission's Publicity Department in the preparation of an activity on general scientific education on the theme of environment and the arts.  The environment and artistic photo exhibition, Sound of Nature opened on 1 November 2005, and was well received by many different sectors.

1. Environment and Artistic Photo Exhibition, Sound of Nature

1.1 Exhibition objectives
The display of artist’s creations truly shows the beauty and wonders of all life forms in nature. The exhibition helps the audience to appreciate the natural environment, ethnicity, cultures and biological and cultural diversity in terms of visual effects and content.

1.2 Photo composition
The art pieces exhibited included photos of KFBG's two art festivals, namely. “Dream Garden” (2003/04) and “Garden's Whisper” (2004/05).  Photos of tropical rainforest and tribal forest cultures are also displayed.

1.3 Display format
Natural materials were used, such as bamboo, wood, rattan, plant seeds, pebbles and various plant species. While the photo exhibition is the main focus, local characteristics, tribal and rainforest culture are integrated to show the beauty of nature. Planning and design staff cleverly exhibited landscaped gardens, decorated arts and behavioural arts. With variations in the size, shape, aspect ratio, and height, the displays were dynamic and interactive. Some panels also had traditional bamboo buckets and sieves. These exhibits also demonstrated local Xishuangbanna characteristics and cultural background of the ethnic minorities. The fun in nature (sound, color, taste and shape) showed the seamless harmony between the environment and nature. The buildings and the shade garden (for shade tolerant plants) were arranged well so that the two could complement each other. It is an exhibition venue high in both exhibition and landscape value.

1.4 Media coverage
News of the exhibition was posted on the websites of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanic Garden.  It was covered by the Xishuangbanna and Mengla televison stations and newspaper, the Xishuangbanna Daily.

1.5 Results
It was estimated that the exhibition attracted up to 50,000 visitors.  The exhibition called for people to care and love their environment, protect nature, appreciate their traditional cultures, and protect biological and cultural diversity.

We adopted the Behavioral Observation Method, Questionnaire Method, and Interview Method to conduct systematic survey studies on visitors and project participants (including organizers) in different stages.

Staff from XTBG and KFBG understood each other better. Also, the process of organizing the exhibition reinforced the cooperation and exchange among different professionals in the two botanic gardens.

1.6 Further impacts
KFBG and XTBG agreed on several issues, including: the exchange and visits of our scientific education department members, research projects on general scientific education theories for botanic gardens, collaboration on environment and art education, more cooperation on scientific education networking, and plant conservation research projects. During their visit, for the opening of the exhibition (1st November, 2005) KFBG's Education Department gave a training session to over 80 scientific education interpreters of XTBG, so that they could be better prepared for the exhibition.

2. Further Collaboration Projects


2.1 Collaboration projects with KFBG
  • Exchange and visits of scientific education staff to enhance the work of general scientific education for both parties
  • Research and evaluation of general scientific education methods
  • Collaboration in environment and art education: Hopefully XTBG will organize a scientific education exhibition on rainforest tradition and culture at KFBG
  • Collaboration in scientific education networking, e.g. projects related to geographic information system and long-distance video-recording
  • Collaboration in plant conservation research aiming at improving landscaped gardens and having more plant species
  • Student exchange on a regular basis
2.2 Collaboration projects with other organizations
  • Paper-making exhibition by minorities in Yunnan Province, to promote the traditional paper-making
  • Formation of the Xishuangbanna Prefecture Museums Association, which will bring these museums together: Tropical Rainforest and Ethnic Forest Culture Museum, Xishuangbanna Natural History Museum, Mengle Museum, Ji-nuo TribalMuseum, Bu-lang Tribal Ecology and Culture Museum, and Mengla County Ethnic Museum

About the Authors

Duan Qi-wu, Xu Ling, and Zhu Hong-xiang are at the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanic Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Yunnan