Why is Chinese entrepreneur Wang Wenliang putting so much of his own money into projects devoted to conserving vital parts of the word’s ecological heritage? To answer this question, let’s take a quick tour of two of these projects
The Dandong Wetlands
Wang is especially dedicated to the conservation of one of China’s largest wetland areas, a 250,000-acre site located near the city of Dandong in China’s far northeast. This wetlands area is vitally important for the world’s ecological future because it hosts vast numbers of migratory birds who rest there during their long annual flights. The richness and diversity of life in the wetlands area is astonishing. Numerous kinds of plants, birds, fish, and small mammals are to be found there. Many different species avail of this facility, including the godwits that stop at the Dandong wetlands during their annual flight from New Zealand to Alaska. So, the importance of this area is beyond dispute. Also beyond argument is the vast sum – more than $2 million per year – that Wang Wenliang spends each year on the restoration and upkeep of the Dandong wetlands. And his investment in this ecologically important project doesn’t end there. To prepare the way for the proper restoration and maintenance of these wetlands, Wang has also spent more than $8 million to buy out the claims of shrimp and fish farmers who operate in the area’s waters. When asked why he is willing to spend so much to preserve the Dandong wetlands, Wang says simply that he wants to protect an area with which he has close personal connections and that the wants to do something that will benefit future generations.
The Marco Island Mangroves
Wang’s determination to restore the extensive Marco Island mangrove forest located near Naples in Florida is even more striking because Wang has committed himself here to the preservation of an area that he has yet to see with his own eyes. But Wang was aware of how a variety of factors, both man-made and natural, had caused much of a seriously undernourished forest to die away. He also knew that the forest was vitally important not only in its own right but also for the environmental well-being of Marco Island as a whole and of the species who inhabit it. As he addressed this issue, Wang found, just as he had in the case of the Dandong Wetlands project, that environmental protection is an expensive undertaking. Before he arrived on the scene, efforts to protect the Marco Island forest were hampered by severe shortages of funding. So it was good news indeed when Wang dedicated himself to the endeavor and pledged $5 million of his own money to the project. Again, one might well ask why Wang Wenliang is willing to invest so much to restore an ecologically important area.