Fairy Lake Botanical Garden of Shenzhen serves public as both urban park and science popularization center

(People's Daily Online) 16:50, May 10, 2022

Located in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province, Fairy Lake Botanical Garden is known for its abundant plant species, professional voluntary services and diverse cultural activities, serving as a science popularization and education center for local residents.

Photo shows Fairy Lake Botanical Garden in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province. (Photo courtesy of Fairy Lake Botanical Garden)

Covering an area of 668 hectares, the garden conserves nearly 12,000 plant species and receives some 4 million visitors per year. With a perfect combination of hills, lakes and artificial features such as pavilions, halls and temples, the garden offers a beautiful scene inside a bustling metropolis.

By the end of April 2022, the garden had organized 420 educational and cultural events, attracting more than 125,000 attendees.

Unlike many other urban parks, whose scenic spots and plant species are pretty much the same, Fairy Lake Botanical Garden has collected and conserved a large variety of plant species over the years, significantly enriching the species on showcase and laying a solid foundation for organizing nature and science popularization activities, according to Yang Yibiao, director of the garden.

Fern species can be taken as just one example. The garden is home to over 1,000 fern varieties, accounting for nearly 10 percent of the world’s total number of fern species. A fern center opened to the public in 2020, which is one of the 22 themed gardens found at the Fairy Lake Botanical Garden, according to Wang Qing, head of the public service center of the garden.

To enable visitors to better understand the plants, the garden offers guide services for visitors. After scanning certain QR codes, visitor will be able to read up on the many secrets behind the plants, including how a tree turns into petrified wood and how plants grow.

Besides, the garden established a nature school in 2014, which organizes a regular event mainly for students aged between 7 and 12 every half month. Every year, the school organizes 36 educational events in all.

The garden has cultivated a professional volunteer team, which serves as a complement to its public service center. Wearing their red volunteer vests, the volunteers will show visitors the way, tour them around the garden, and provide interpretation services for them. The volunteer team now has 106 members, who have provided a total of over 20,000 hours of services.

The garden established a training system for volunteers starting in 2016. “The garden has high standards for and exercises strict assessments over them,” said Wang, adding that as most of the candidates lack any professional background, systematic training is indispensable.

“For instance, there are over 200 varieties of sago palms in the garden, with the training and assessment for the sago palms garden alone lasting two months,” Wang added.

“The volunteer candidates acquire some basic skills, such as showing tourists the way, and information on themed gardens and pavilions in the first phase of the training. Then they will receive training on different species and pass through exams before working as a docent,” said Li Shan, head of the nature school, where many of the volunteers work.

Chen Ruimei, who works at Shenzhen Customs, was one of the first volunteers at the garden. Despite having a relevant academic background, Chen received training for nearly a year before becoming a docent. Chen, who always talks about the plants she loves with excitement, has found that working as a volunteer not only can satisfy her thirst for knowledge of plants, but also gives her a sense of accomplishment. “I’m very happy to see the visitors fall in love with plants,” she said.

Moreover, the garden has launched many cultural activities to encourage residents to get close to nature and acquire relevant knowledge in a relaxing way. Many of the activities, such as “forest concerts” and “open day activities,” have become representative public events of Shenzhen.

The garden launched an online flower show for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, which is a major themed activity for the garden that was held on March 28. Over 4 million netizens participated in the online event. “It’s more than appreciating the beautiful flowers. I learnt a lot of knowledge on the tablets for each kind of flower,” said Chen Fang, a local resident who was deeply impressed by the flower show.

The garden also provides the public with updated information on its various ongoing activities via its official WeChat account, which has over 1.5 million followers.

“Public facilities should be oriented toward the people. The garden will continue to serve the people, give play to our abundant species, tap into various resources and organize public activities to better meet the needs of the people,” said Yang. 

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)


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