Chengdu, March 3 -- Ecological scientist Yin Kaipu: Ecological protection is a career that I have loved all my life

Author Zhu Huan

3 March is the International Day of Forests. On the same day, the Sichuan Provincial People's Government awarded medals and certificates to Yin Kaipu, former researcher and ecologist of the Chengdu Institute of Biology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, specifically commending his outstanding contributions to the ecological protection of Sichuan Province. This elderly man has been working to protect the ecology, witness the changes in the ecological environment of western China, and show it to the world.

When Jiuzhaigou was still little known, Yin Kaipu suggested that a nature reserve be established there; Yinkaipu was one of the original nomenclature of the Aden Nature Reserve; Yin Kaipu found a variety of rare plants such as "giant pandas" and five-leaf maples in the plant kingdom that were considered extinct... Yin Kaipu started as a scientific research assistant and ran all over the mountains and rivers of the Sichuan Basin.

In March 2021, Yin Kaipu, who is nearly eighty years old, looked for a shooting spot in Mianyu Town, Wenchuan County. Photo courtesy of interviewee

Bonding with plants

It's been more than 60 years

In 1960, Yin Kaipu graduated from high school and entered the Chengdu Institute of Biology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, where he became associated with plants. Specimen clips, ropes, machetes... Yin Kaipu recalled his work in his youth, summed up in the words "difficult conditions". "We all eat pickles on dry food in the wild, and the transportation depends on two legs. Sometimes we have to climb a tree to collect specimens, and sometimes we even have to go to the edge of a cliff to collect specimens, so we need to bring our usual tools. "Yin Kaipu often leaves for half a year.

"Collecting more information is the better, collecting more and more comprehensive specimens." At the end of the day, Yin Kaipu can collect more than ten kilograms of specimens. Today, in the herbarium of the Chengdu Institute of Biology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, you can see many specimens collected by Yin Kaipu.

Falling rocks, mudslides, snowstorms... On the way to field investigation, there are always all kinds of accidents. Yin Kaipu, who has worked in the field for more than 60 years, summed up the experience: when it is time to rush, it is necessary to rush, and when it is time to stop, it must stop. On the way to investigate, Yin Kaipu witnessed too many accidents, and his colleagues were unfortunately killed.

In Yin's view, becoming a qualified "plant hunter" is not an easy task, requiring knowledge of history, geography, archaeology, as well as adventurous spirit and dedication in addition to botanical and horticultural knowledge. It is precisely because of the similar experience of "plant hunters" that Yin Kaipu can better understand the hardships of the road of the British botanist Wilson more than a hundred years ago.

Yin Kaipu rode to the shooting location. Photo courtesy of interviewee

Take Wilson's path again

"A Hundred Years of Pursuit" came out

More than a hundred years ago, Wilson took thousands of photographs in western China. In 1997, Yin Kaipu began planning to take another photo at the place where Wilson had taken the photo and compare the images to reflect the ecological changes in western China over the past hundred years.

Relying on the transfer of results to support themselves to return to Wilson's path; Go to the unit every day to climb the stairs in advance to reserve your physical strength to walk Wilson's path again; Collected a huge amount of information to plan for my return to Wilson's path... When he first re-walked Wilson's road, Yin Kaipu had reached the age of retirement, and after nearly 7 years of preparation, Yin Kaipu followed the route Wilson had taken, going deep into Hubei, Chongqing and Sichuan, looking for the location where Wilson left old photos, and retaking the photos.

How to find the former filming location is the biggest difficulty for Yin Kaipu to walk Wilson's path again. "Go county by county, ask local villagers and county archives." In the process of finding a filming location, despite the hardships, Yin Kaipu also made more and more friends.

Positioning, climbing mountains, comparing old photos, looking for plants, looking for spots... Everywhere he went, he repeated a whole set of processes. In order to take another picture taken by Wilson at the Cannon Mountain in Danba County, Kardze Prefecture, Sichuan Province, at an altitude of 4560,2 meters, Yin Kaipu, who was over <> years old at the time, spent two days resolutely climbing the mountain slope pass in the cold and lack of oxygen, and took a comparative picture.

In a full six years, Yin Kaipu completed Wilson's journey, took 250 sets of comparative photos, and published a book integrating ecological, historical and social values in 2010 - "A Hundred Years of Pursuit - Witnessing Environmental Changes in Western China" (hereinafter referred to as "A Hundred Years of Pursuit"), which attracted the attention of domestic ecological circles and the public.

Yin Kaipu flipped through "A Hundred Years of Change - The Image Reunion of Two Botanists from East and West". Zhu Huan

"One Hundred Years of Change" comes out again

Ecological protection continues to be passed on

In 2018, Yin Kaipu came up with the idea of shooting again, hoping to get more people to pay attention to the ecological changes in western China. "Based on what we went out to investigate, I think the ecological changes in the last 10 years have exceeded those in the past 100 years." Yin Kaipu said that this is also one of the reasons why he wants to shoot again.

More than ten years after the publication of "A Hundred Years of Pursuit", Yin Kaipu once again embarked on the road of searching for "a century of changes". Starting with Wilson's first photograph in 1907 and ending with the last photograph taken by the Yinkai Pu team in 2021, generations have investigated the same site in western China across 114 years of history, and vividly demonstrated the ecological and social evolution of the region through photographic comparison.

In Yin Kaipu's office, the book "A Hundred Years of Pursuit" has turned yellow, and even has raw edges, "When making new books, you must constantly compare, this book has long been 'rotted'." Yin Kaipu introduced that compared with "A Hundred Years of Pursuit", "A Hundred Years of Change - The Image Reunion of Two Eastern and Western Botanists" also deliberately disassembles Wilson's Road into 10 tourist routes when organizing chapters, building a new map for western ecotourism.

"It is clear from the pictures taken in 2009 that the Wenchuan earthquake caused serious damage to the slopes and vegetation on both sides of the river valley, and from the three sets of pictures taken in 2011, 2014 and 2019, it is found that after the implementation of a series of ecological protection policies such as returning farmland to forest, nature has shown super self-healing ability." Yin Kaipu pointed to a set of pictures in the book of the Min River Valley in Mianyu Town, Wenchuan County, Aba Prefecture, and said, "These are valuable video materials, and this is why I keep doing it." ”

Now, Yin Kaipu's "pursuit" has also become the "pursuit" of a group of people. Yin Kaipu said that in the book "A Hundred Years of Change - The Image Reunion of Two Botanists from the East and the West", nearly 100 people joined the shooting team. "The more people get involved, the actions of the few become the love of the majority." After the publication of the new book, many people inside and outside the Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences came to print Kaipu to ask for new books and signatures, and printed Kaipu to meet them one by one. "It inspires them to do research." Yin Kaipu said with a smile.

"Conservation is a lifelong passion." For Yin Kaipu, ecological protection is getting more and more attention, which makes him particularly happy. Yin Kaipu hopes that the shooting will continue on a scale of 10 years. Today, Zhu Dan has become the successor of this work, which makes Yin Kaipu full of confidence in the future. (End)