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Naturalist urges interaction with world around us

Updated: 2016-01-14 08:47:37

( China Daily )

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"Besides, how can you expect someone brought up (exclusively) in urban, man-made forests of things to truly care for nature?" he says.

Liu grew up in China's northeastern Changbai Mountains before enrolling in Peking University to study geology.

That idyllic fruit-picking, flower-plucking childhood had forged "a strong tie with nature that no words could describe", Liu recalls.

He is partial to plants and is compiling flora glossaries in the various places he has set foot-from his university campus to Honolulu.

"As a naturalist, you get to know the plants from your feelings, your own ways of learning instead of authoritative scientific procedures," he says.

"Rolling on grass could be a good naturalist's way of learning. You feel how hard the ground is and how well grass grows."

He tries to infuse that love of nature into students with classes on natural history and field trips.

That reverence of the natural is also ingrained in Chinese culture, thanks to ancient dossiers on the relationship between man and nature, says Liu.

For thousands of years, China had produced both fabled depictions of geography and myths like the Classic of Mountains and Seas (dating to the fourth century BC); encyclopedias like the Compendium of Materia Medica, which is a work of traditional Chinese medicine written by Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) scholar Li Shizhen; and travelogs by Ming Dynasty geologist Xu Xiake.

"We have enough scientific institutes and gauges now. It's perhaps time to look back on the tradition that sustains us through history," he says.

"It's a slower, beautiful way of life-a path well worth taking."


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