Thu, 08 Dec 2022

Former logger becomes forest guardian

Xinhua
29 Sep 2022, 20:05 GMT+10

© Provided by Xinhua

HARBIN, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- Standing deep in the mountains amid the dense forest, Wang Daohui pointed out to various trees and named their species with ease, as he is very familiar with the surrounding vegetation.

The former lumberjack who is today a forest ranger was born in 1966 on the Heping forest farm in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province. His father was one of the builders of the forest farm, and at that time, the main task of the forest farm was to produce timber.

Young Wang had minimal aspirations for his future and believed he would inherit his father's business and become a forestry worker.

After graduating from junior high school in 1982, Wang began working as a contract logger, climbing up into the mountains to fell trees.

During the winter, the loggers had to spend a month on the mountain enduring the frigid climate. The cold wind was piercing, and after working for a while, the lumberjacks would sweat, and soon their clothes were frozen and their hands turned red, Wang recalled.

"We would usually start work before dawn and return home when the moon rose," Wang said, adding that he worked as a winch operator, responsible for loading the wood.

Wang, who had always thought he would spend his entire life as a lumberjack, heard a piece of shocking news in 2003 that logging would be banned on the forest farm, and a nature reserve would be established.

Many of his peers couldn't comprehend the change and left the forest, but Wang decided to stay.

Accepting the reality that logging is now prohibited, Wang had more time to observe the familiar forests around him, but he also felt a little strange. He realized that although he recognized the broad categories of plants, he could not accurately identify the majority of them.

The forest farm gradually lost the hustle and bustle of the past. The sound of loggers' whistles and the roar of chainsaws reverberating through the valley were replaced by the breeze and birdsong in the mountains. Seeing the breathtaking transformations, Wang knew the forest was recovering its lost treasure.

In 2008, he officially became a forest ranger. Wang and his colleagues were tasked with fire prevention in spring and autumn, forest pests and diseases prevention in summer, and strengthening animal protection in winter.

Wang has also served as a guide. "Some university teachers once came here for research, and I acted as a guide for them, and they taught me to recognize plants," Wang said.

In 2017, China officially launched the pilot program for establishing the Northeast China Tiger and Leopard National Park, and the designated area covers the place where Wang is located.

In recent years, wild animals, including tigers and leopards, have been frequently spotted, thanks to the continuous improvement of the ecology.

To better protect wild animals, Wang and his colleagues have continued to clean up various hunting sets left on the mountain for many years. He said he has cleared more than 500 such objects in a year. "With the continuous cleaning over the years, the hunting sets are almost gone now."

Both the forests and Wang have undergone changes. "I felt helpless when I first stopped logging, but now I am passionate about guarding the forests," he said.

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