- Environmental Governance in Asia series
5. Protected areas and biodiversity conservation Globally, countries establish protected areas – nature reserves, parks, historical sites, monuments – to preserve rare and endangered species and their ecosystems. Soule and Torbough contend: ‘As an effective strategy of conserving biodiversity, the setting aside of protected areas is the sine qua non of effective management’.1 The United States (US) was the first nation to create a protected area, Yellowstone National Park, in 1872; in 2005, at least 100 000 protected areas are found in more than 100 countries. China and Taiwan are latecomers to this form of biodiversity conservation, with histories of less than 50 years. In this chapter, we explain the evolution of protected areas and the functions they perform. For China, we examine the distribution of conservation units, geographically and administratively. Then we consider five large obstacles to effective management: architecture of the system, administrative organization and enforcement, limited financial support, human resource problems, and conflicts between local populations and protected areas. We also give an example of a relatively well-managed protected area, the Mount Gaoligong Nature Reserve in the Yunnan Province. For Taiwan, we also treat the distribution of protected areas. Then we turn to coordination, management, and fiscal problems. The example for Taiwan is a proposed park to be co-managed with aboriginal peoples. The chapter concludes with a comparison of the protected area systems in China and Taiwan. EVOLUTION OF THE PROTECTED AREA SYSTEM The World Conservation Union (IUCN) defines a protected area as ‘an area of land and/or sea...
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