Rangers guard primeval forest for 60 years

HARBIN: Looking at a primeval pine forest from a watchtower in northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, it appears as a sea of green shrouded in mist.
Song Guohua, a 59-year-old forest ranger, has devoted most of his life to one thing — keeping the primeval forest the way it has been since it appeared about 65 million years ago.
Located in Yichun City, the Heilongjiang Fenglin National Nature Reserve is a core area of Northeast Asia’s primeval Korean pine forest. Established in 1958, the reserve has been guarded for more than 60 years by forest rangers like Song.
“It’s difficult for a new worker to differentiate between clouds, water vapor and wildfire smoke. This takes years of experience,” Song said.
The biggest concern for Song is fire hazards. Sometimes even a bird can cause a fire. “A bird hit a high-voltage line and ignited trees several years ago. Fortunately, the fire was found and put out in time,” Song said.
“Sometimes we need to live in the mountains for up to a month at a time, and walk more than 30 km on patrol. If the patrol can’t be finished in a day, we have to sleep in a tent at night,” Song added. Wildlife such as black bears poses a serious danger to forest rangers. Veteran workers taught Song to frequently shout to frighten away the bears when walking along mountain roads.
But it does not always work. Song remembered running into a black bear that was not frightened away by his shouting. “I turned and ran, and luckily the bear didn’t chase after me,” he said. – Agencies