China Trails 2020

A research notebook exploring directions of change in Chinese approaches to creating experiences in nature. ”Nature” is as much a cultural construct as the city, and has been central to Chinese medicine, art, religion, and politics for several thousand years.

The future of Chinese nature is at a critical juncture. Economic development and climate change offer new threats and possibilities to the organization of natural experiences for humans.

My longterm goal with this research is to map the people, places, institutions, and issues that would have to be knit together to create a sort of "Chinese Appalachian Trail." Such a trail system would preserve land for hiking and walking and link (often historic) human trails across multiple provinces. It would integrate a variety of cultural, scientific, and commercial projects at multiple scales, from local to national.

Lyn Jeffery, Director, Technology Horizons Program, Institute for the Future

PPT turned into video, showing high-altitude footpath being built in 2011 on the side of a vertical wall on Mount Shifou in Hunan Province. There must be some kind of crazy steep tourism movement in Hunan, judging from the glass-bottomed walkway built on the edge of the province’s Tianmen Mountain. This is one of the things I love about Chinese tourism: it’s sheer fun and awe with less attention paid to dangerous liabilities. Probably this will all change in the next few decades, but for now, you can do things in wild places that you would never be allowed to do in the U.S. (thanks Kim and Sean!)

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