20 Jul 2013

Twelve year old conservationist from China is helping ensure a future for birds

By Shaun Hurrell

It is becoming increasingly important to engage young people with nature. Twelve year old Tina Lin from China was a shining example of this when she attended the BirdLife World Congress in Ottawa in June 2013. Tina was invited to share her experiences of bird watching and raising bird conservation awareness in Fujian.

Through her passion for bird conservation this young conservationist has, in her own words, become ‘a little bit famous’. At the Young People workshop, where attendees discussed the connections between young people and nature for the future of BirdLife’s conservation programmes, Tina gave such an engaging presentation that she was asked to speak at the Congress plenary session in front of 500 people. Tina is no stranger to giving speeches however, she regularly raises awareness about the plight of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper in her home town, and has even spoken at a TED event.

Tina Lin talking with Henry M. Paulson, Jnr. (Paulson Institute and former US Secretary of the Treasury) at the BirdLife Gala Celebration Dinner, where she gave him her drawing of a Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Photos: J Trinity; jessicatrinity.com


Tina emerged as a passionate birder when she attended a bird watching workshop, run by the BirdLife China Programme. Now a member of Fujian Bird Watching Society and the RSPB, she made big news in her hometown when her bird drawings were published in the RSPB magazine ‘Bird Life’. She personally translates the magazine from English so other children can read it. "Students respect me because I am a little bit famous," she says with a cheeky grin. "Many people learnt about bird watching for the first time in their lives through the newspaper articles and TV programmes.” 

Tina recalled when she saw 8 Chinese Crested Terns - a Critically Endangered species with a population estimate of less than 50 mature individuals. "I was so happy and so tired afterwards!" BirdLife’s China Programme has seen the number of local bird watching societies grow from 3 in 2000 to 27 in 2012, which was jointly established by Hong Kong Bird Watching Society and BirdLife International in 2005. It provides training, education, and raises conservation awareness to these bird watching societies which are now developing their own conservation programmes and monitoring schemes, an excellent entry point for conservation in sensitive areas.

Tina has been raising awareness of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper's treacherous migration through a game, developed by Barrie Cooper from the RSPB, that she plays with her biology class. "The game is an easy way to help students be aware of why we should protect birds." And at the Congress, Tina's enthusiastic talks gave attendees a different perspective on engaging people with nature in the future.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter!

"Though I like nature I fall asleep during my biology class, because it is too boring. I wish school was like a forest so I could enjoy my biology classes." As Tina returns to watch Chinese Crested Terns on the mudflats of Fujian, we wish her all the best for the future.

Read more about Tina at the Congress here: http://naturecanadablog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/youth-voice-shines-at-global-congress.html