East Asian conservation officials and academics gathered at Yangmingshan National Park this past week to exchange ideas on management and use of national protection areas, including national parks. The theme, "Benefits Beyond Boundaries in East Asia," is particularly apt for Taiwan, which shares marine boundaries with neighboring nations and is dealing with its own redefinition of "boundaries" within the government departments that manage Taiwan's preservation areas.
This was the fourth World Commission on Protected Areas in East Asia (WCPA-EA) conference since 1993. The first three were held in Beijing, Kushiro, Japan and Seoul. More than 300 participants from the region attended the Yangmingshan conference, which also is counted among the major cross-strait exchange events of the year, with 50 delegates from China in attendance. In addition, participation by delegates from both North and South Korea underscored the conference's "beyond boundaries" theme.
David Sheppard, the head of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Program on Protected Areas, explained that the conferences are, "about trying to break down barriers and increasing cooperation." Sheppard was in Yangmingshan promoting the 2003 World Parks Congress (to be held in Durban, South Africa), for which he will serve as secretary general, and which is also themed "Benefits Beyond Boundaries." The conference serves as a venue for exchanging ideas, and as a launching pad for further exchanges.
Taiwan's protected areas
Chang Lung-Sheng (
The late 1990s saw a leveling off of park planning in Taiwan, after Shei-Pa and Kinmen national parks were established in 1992 and 1995 respectively. (Taiwan's other national parks are Yangmingshan, Yushan, and Taroko. It is expected that Makao Chinese Cypress National Park (
"There is next to no enforcement of conservation measures in Taiwan's nature and forest reserves due largely to a lack of monitoring. The only natural places in Taiwan where there is effective monitoring and a law (the National Park Law) backing up the principles of conservation are national parks," says Chang who advocates a systematic overhaul of the current fragmented management regime. Chang also notes that national scenic areas managed by the Tourism Bureau are set up purely for recreation with little or no interpretive features, and no effort at conservation.