A growing number of people are visiting the country’s national parks, while fewer people are violating the National Park Act (國家公園法), which shows that public awareness of ecological conservation is rising, the Ministry of the Interior said yesterday.
The ministry said in a press release that last year 16.6 million people visited the nation’s eight national parks — Yangminshan (陽明山), Sheipa (雪壩), Taroko (太魯閣), Yushan (玉山), Taijiang (台江), Kenting (墾丁), Kinmen (金門) and Dongsha Atoll (東沙環礁).
Comparing the number of visitors to national parks that were open both last year and in 2009 — Taijiang National Park was only inaugurated at the end of 2009 and the Dongsha Atoll National Park is only open to ecological researchers by permission — the number of visitors grew by 6.8 percent, the statement said.
“In addition, a total of 7.76 million people used briefing and guiding services provided by visitor centers at each national park, which is 26.2 percent growth,” it said.
“On the other hand, we only had 382 violations of the National Park Act in 2009, which was 263 less than in the previous year,” the statement said, adding that violations usually consisted of behavior that would damage the ecology and environment in national parks.
The statistics show that people are now more aware of the importance of protecting the environment and that they are more willing to be in touch with nature, the statement said.
Explaining the features of each national park, the ministry said that Kenting and Dongsha Atoll National Parks have rich underwater ecosystems, including reefs. Yushan, Taroko and Sheipa National Parks were created to protect high--altitude ecosystems and Aboriginal cultures, while Yangminshan National Park is the only park with a unique volcanic landscape. Kinmen National Park was established because of its well-preserved traditional Minnan-style villages and culture, the ministry said.
“As of the end of 2010, there are eight national parks in the country, covering as many as 38 hectares of land and 40.2 hectares of waters surrounding Taiwan,” the statement said.