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Wetland Conservation Act takes effect in Taiwan

A bill designed to maintain the biodiversity and sustainability of Taiwan’s wetlands took effect Feb. 2, promoting the credentials of the country as a regional leader in the responsible use of ecological assets.

“The Wetland Conservation Act seeks to balance conservation with economic development,” Minister of the Interior Chen Wei-zen said. “This is to be carried out through a classification system and dedicated management mechanisms.

“Anyone wishing to profit from the use of wetlands for industrial production, business operation or tourism purposes must gain permission from the relevant authorities.”

The legislation forms part of government efforts to harmonize the needs and rights of people with regional development and environmental protection. It permits the present use of designated wetlands for activities such as agriculture and aquaculture.

Under the bill, Taiwan’s 83 wetlands will be classified in terms of international, national and regional importance on the basis of their ecological value. They are further zoned into areas of core conservation, ecological restoration, environmental education and management services.

Wetlands of international or national importance, like Sicao and Zengwen estuaries in southern Taiwan’s Tainan City, will be off-limits to construction. In addition, local governments are required to consult with the MOI Construction and Planning Agency regarding any proposed development within and surrounding a designated wetland.

Stiff penalties are also authorized under the act. Violators are subject to fines of NT$300,000 (US$9,517) to NT$1.5 million, as well as one to eight hours of environmental education. Those who hunt, trap and kill wildlife, or release and harvest species without permission, face sanctions of NT$60,000 to NT$500,000 along with one to eight hours of classes.

“The general provisions of the bill give it real teeth and significant improvement is expected in the management and protection of Taiwan’s wetlands,” Chen said, adding that complementary measures on the cards include dedicating an additional NT$50 million to related conservation initiatives.

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