Governance of Biodiversity Conservation in China and Taiwan

Governance of Biodiversity Conservation in China and Taiwan

Environmental Governance in Asia series

Gerald A. McBeath and Tse-Kang Leng

China and Taiwan have roughly one-eighth of the world’s known species. Their approaches to biodiversity issues thus have global as well as national repercussions. Gerald McBeath and Tse-Kang Leng explore the ongoing conflicts between economic development, typically pursued by businesses and governments, and communities seeking to preserve and protect local human and ecosystem values.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Gerald A. McBeath and Tse-Kang Leng

Subjects: asian studies, asian development, development studies, asian development, environment, asian environment, environmental governance and regulation, environmental politics and policy, environmental sociology, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, european politics and policy

Extract

Few issues display more clearly the competition between China’s drive to become economically developed and to conserve biodiversity than hydropower development. This is the subject of China’s most recent environmental controversy. In August 2003, the National Development and Reform Commission, a powerful economics super-ministry, authorized construction of a 13-station dam along the Nu1 River (Nujiang) in Yunnan Province. After at least a decade of construction, the dam would become the world’s largest. It would produce more electricity than the Three Gorges Dam, helping China address energy shortages while bringing jobs to poor residents of southwestern China and revenues to the provincial and local governments. However, the Nujiang is one of only two large Chinese rivers that has not yet been dammed. Originating in the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau, it flows through Yunnan into Myanmar, where it is named the Salween River. The river passes through spectacular gorges, and its waters wash habitats of many endemic plant and animal species. Indeed, it is one of China’s remaining ‘hotspot’ areas of rich biological diversity, and justifiably is called an ‘oriental treasure garden’. It is part of a UNESCO world heritage site.2 Reaction to plans for dam construction was swift and far-reaching. Local residents feared displacement (potentially affecting more than 50 000 farmers), loss of water for cultivation of crops, and depletion of fish and other species upon which residents depend. Although most local officials and scientists supported the project, national-level scientists and environmental non-governmental organizatons (ENGOs) questioned the need for yet another expansive hydropower...