|The Spanish conceptual artist Lara Almarcegui came to Taiwan for the 2008 Taipei Biennial. Inspired by a sandbar of the Danshui River estuary, she wanted to make a drawing of it. To this internationally acclaimed artist, such sandbar is more beautiful than any other world-class scenery.
Surrounded by sea, Taiwan is densely populated and its land is expensive. How can wetlands with weeds and few visitors compete with science parks that generate high production values? What is a wetland and what impact does it have? Does its importance justify the lobbying for its conservation by so many experts and scholars?
In 1997, Nature reported that the annual production value of the global ecosystem is 33 trillion dollars, with 14.9 trillion from wetlands. The 2002 Ramsar Convention put the share at 15 trillion dollars. Wetlands, forests and the ocean are 3 major ecosystems of the globe, whereas aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems are the most diversified. Integrating the advantages of both systems, wetlands are the most productive areas on earth.
Over the years, difficulty in acquiring land for development has made wetlands victims of urban planning Now, as global
||warming intensifies, people start to conserve wetlands. But how is that done? Is conservation in Taiwan more important than building hi-rises or designating industrial areas?
Mr. Chiau was a professor and Director in the Institute of Marine Affairs and Resource Management at National Taiwan Ocean University, and is now Deputy Minister of the EPA. During his career of over 25 years in planning and marine conservation, he was the manager of many research projects and took part in many government affairs. He has a lot to say about wetlands. “Before we talk about its importance, we must first define it.” said Chiau.
According to the Ramsar Convention, wetlands include rivers, reservoirs, fish farms, mountain lakes—natural or manmade, and shallow waters of 6 m in depth. In Taiwan, it was the Chinese Wild Bird Federation that first raised the discussion on wetlands and designated wetlands for better management and review. Many years ago when Chiau was the chairman of Wetlands Taiwan, he was also a member to the National Council for Sustainable Development Network. He proposed a national survey on wetlands and coral reefs, which was added to the sustainable development action plan and gave rise to the designation of 75 national wetlands.