Taiwan, Eco-example to the Nations

This Asian island may be small and crowded, but it is also home to a wide variety of eco-initiatives that put countries like Israel to shame.

Zafrir Rinat
Zafrir Rinat
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Zafrir Rinat
Zafrir Rinat

As the United Nations marks International Day for Biological Diversity on Wednesday, countries around the world are taking the opportunity to size up their neighbors' conservation efforts – and to rethink their own. Israel would do well to look to Taiwan, which though similar in size boasts far larger and more effective biodiversity programs.

Like Israel, Taiwan is a small, densely populated country. And, like Israel, it has set aside about a fifth of its land for nature conserves. But while both countries have national biodiversity conservation programs, the difference is that in Israel these programs haven’t actually made any significant impact.

Israel does have a handful of unique projects that might receive assistance in the future – bird-tracking stations and long-term ecosystem research programs, for example. Yet lack of funding and low manpower, combined with the Environmental Protection Ministry's focus on other areas, prevent large-scale implementation of these projects and stymie efforts to make any real change.

Taiwan does things differently. The national program it recently unveiled includes a host of unique projects, including efforts to educate people about conservation, to involve local communities in conservation efforts, and to promote research on subjects such as land preservation and climate change.

The Endemic Species Research Institute in Nantou County, for example, operates three research centers in different areas to track various indigenous species. It even rears bears to learn more about their behavior and diet. The institute is in constant contact with locals and offers numerous community programs to promote conservation, including a seed bank for rare plants and a wildlife hospital. (Similar programs exist and flourish in Israel.)

Farther south is Xitou, home to an experimental forest designed to grow and preserve trees. And near the major city of Tainan is an eco-park entirely dedicated to the preservation of pheasant-tailed Jacana birds, a once-common species in Asia that became endangered in Taiwan after its habitat was destroyed.

Especially interesting is Taiwan's efforts to rehabilitate species and educate visitors in the Taiguang area, home to the country's newest park, which opened in 2009. The area has a vast number of salt and commercial pools for the cultivation of fish and mollusks, and the park oversees numerous conservation, education and research initiatives. Taiguang has even become a popular tourist destination thanks to the presence of the endangered Black-faced Spoonbill bird, which has found a safe haven there.

Taiwanese coastline.Credit: Zafrir Rinat

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott