A German biologist known for his work on biodiversity, Josef Margraf had the privilege of an incredible adventure in the 21st century: he discovered an unknown land, where tea plants grew protected from all pollution. Josef had always admired large, beautiful trees, which he saw as the link between the earth and the sky, art and science. Having worked all over the world, he decided to settle in Xishuangbanna, both admiring it and recognising the need to make every effort to protect this ‘kingdom of plants’ from speculators of any kind, who are driven by profit, promote building complexes or extend terrace plantations.
When a young Chinese journalist educated in the United States, Minguo-Li, arrived to interview Josef about the project that he was planning for the region, their chemistry was instant. Their love was sealed in 2004 by the founding of the TianZi Biodiversity Research & Development Centre to support Josef and Minguo-Li’s strong belief that “biodiversity is the true gospel of the human race”.
Together, they decided to revive forest tea production to save this natural enclave, increase the resources of local minority communities who tend the forest tea plants and preserve the cultural and spiritual heritage that they guard in the interest of everyone. ‘Green Hero’ Josef and wife Minguo-Li did not take long to become the most influential rainforest leaders in China, to the extent that their use of a new growing method called reforestation farming has become an exemplary model.