China: Fengxiang Xu

Even if I have only one breath left, I will not fall behind.

— Fengxiang Xu

Xu Fengxiang is a scholar in forest and highland ecology. For the past half century, she has been teaching, researching and taking on conservation work on forests, ecology and environmental protection. She has opened up the research realm in highland ecology and set up the Tibetan and Beijing ecology research institutes. She is now 74 years old, but continues to do field investigation and exploration in highland conservation.

Xu Fengxiang was born in south China. She is always “hiking along bumpy paths through forests and highlands.” She is not only a nature lover, but has a tough and persistent character. Exploring forests, especially in the highlands, has not been easy. She has worked extremely hard to discover precious biological resources, going three times to Motuo and Daguaiwan forests on the Yaluzhangbu River. During those expeditions she had to negotiate glaciers and mudslides. She took risks crossing single-plank bridges, and fell off her horse. In the forests she was attacked by blood-sucking insects, mites, and leeches, and once had more than 400 of them on her body. When she went into Motuo for the first time she was very sick, suffering from malaria and high fever and her bones were "nearly buried in the green mountains.” After recovering and leaving the valley she said, full of spirit, “I survived and left Motuo: Even if I have only one breath left, I will not fall behind.” When she was over sixty she should have retired, but she has never stopped exploring the highlands, and is especially concerned with the conservation of vulnerable ecology. At 70 she climbed up to the Everest base camp for the second time to observe the ice and snow systems and their thawing. Through her persistence, many conservation areas have been set up. She is even called “the Goddess of the Forest” by the Tibetans. In order to promote an alliance between Tibetans and the Han majority, and to let more people know about the beauty of the landscapes as well as Tibetans’ honesty and kind-heartedness, the “Beijing Ling Mountain Tibet Museum” was set up, which not only provides information on the ecology of the plateau, but is also devoted to popularizing ecological science education for youngsters.

Beijing Ling Mountain Ecology Research Institute Beijing Ling Mountain Tibet Museum