Tiger tale: a green-by-definition project

This story is about the Siberian tiger and an effort we read about recently in China Daily that meets our definition of a “green-by-definition” project.  This definition comes from our book, Green Project Management, in the section where we discuss “A Rainbow of Green”, noting that there is a spectrum of projects with respect to the focus on sustainability (or Corporate Social Responsibility in general).

I was recently in Malaysia where there are still tigers.  I didn’t see any (they typically don’t roam the streets of Kuala Lumpur, where I was) but I was assured by my  hosts that they’re around.  You can see from the list below there are only 700 or so remaining.

In the early 1900s, there were around 100,000 tigers throughout their range. Today, an estimated total of around 3,000-4,500 exist in the wild. Below is a breakdown of tiger numbers by subspecies.

Bengal tiger: Less than 2,000
Indochinese tiger: 750-1,300
Siberian tiger: Around 450
Sumatran tiger: 400-500
Malayan tiger: 600-800
South Chinese tiger: Extinct in the wild
Caspian tiger: Extinct
Javan tiger: Extinct
Bali tiger: Extinct

The story (link here) is about Liang Feng’en – a wildlife ranger at the Suiyang Forestry Bureau in southeast Heilongjiang province.

Liang, who is  55, patrols the mountains on the Russian border to monitor Siberian tigers, and destroy hidden traps.

From the article:

“I used to be the best hunter in the region when I retired from the army 30 years ago. But now I look after the animals, including tigers, black bears, roe deer and even squirrels,” said the deeply tanned Liang, decked out in green camouflage clothing.

The change came in 2004 when Liang was hired as a wildlife protector. His new role coincided with greater efforts by the authorities to save the environment for wildlife in northeast Asia.

 Tigers are native to Asia, with many primarily found in southeastern Russia and northern China. There are eight subspecies and China is home to around 50 wild tigers from four of those subspecies.

Around 20 Siberian tigers and 10 to 20 Bengal tigers live in the Heilongjiang River Basin and the Tibet autonomous region, according to the World Wild Fund for Nature.

“The Siberian tiger is more endangered than the giant panda now. It faces extinction without effective protection. And the extinction of this “umbrella species” would be a disaster for the entire ecosystem,” said Fan Zhiyong, director of the WWF China’s species program.

An umbrella species is one whose survival indirectly protects many other species within its habitat. In China, they include the giant panda, the Siberian tiger and the Asian elephant.

As part of the Chinese improvements in wildlife protection, many former loggers and hunters like Liang have now become forest rangers. Their daily work has changed from destruction of the local habitat and wildlife to anti-hunting measures, monitoring movements and raising public awareness of the tigers’ plight.

The recovery program is summarized graphically below.  We encourage you to read the entire article.

From our perspective, this serves to illustrate another example of a project where the intent and focus is on a sustainability-oriented outcome.  In this case, the outcome is indeed the sustainability of an “umbrella species”, and in turn an entire ecosystem.  This focus also means that the project managers involved are ‘automatically empowered’ to integrate sustainability into the project – since it’s inherently a part of the project’s charter.  The challenge for most of the rest of us – who are overseeing new software releases or new product development, or marketing campaigns – is that we have to actually work harder to integrate sustainability in our projects.  This is why we encourage you to subscribe or at least check in often with our blog, where we continue to provide tips and tools for doing just that.

In the meantime, take some inspiration from Liang Feng’en!