The National Parks Service, Ministry of the Interior was established on September 20, 2023, responsible for comprehensive environmental management, including Taiwan’s national parks, national nature parks, wetlands, and coastal areas. It oversees Taiwan’s effort to expand and integrate the territorial conservation system, emphasizing the importance of natural resources and cultural heritage. In response to this restructuring, Yushan National Park (Headquarters), Ministry of the Interior was renamed as Yushan National Park (Headquarters), National Parks Service, Ministry of the Interior (hereafter referred to as the Headquarters) and unveiled on September 26 of the same year. Building upon the strong foundation of Taiwan’s national parks, the Headquarters aims to deepen biodiversity conservation and research, monitor high-altitude ecological changes, and develop high-quality forest experiences, thus expanding the capacity and value of national land conservation.
Taiwan’s National Parks Start the Conservation of the Land
The Republic of China enacted the National Park Law to protect the unique national natural landscapes, wildlife, and historical sites in 1972, while also providing opportunities for education and research for its citizens. In the meantime, Taiwan was experiencing rapid economic development, and the term “conservation” was unfamiliar to the public. The government acknowledged the importance of preserving the precious natural resources and ecology of the country, which could be irreparably damaged by vigorous economic developments. Therefore, it was aware of the fact that effective measures for sustainable protection were necessary. The establishment of “national parks” with zoned management was subsequently initiated to safeguard these resources.
The Construction and Planning Agency, Ministry of the Interior was established on March 2, 1981, and under it, the National Parks Division was also set up, which accelerated the planning and establishment of Taiwan’s national parks. Over the past four decades, 9 national parks and 1 national nature park were established, collectively protecting an area of 754,754.3 hectares. These parks extend from high mountains to the coastline, playing a significant role in the conservation and promotion of Taiwan’s most precious national land core resources.
Yushan National Park’s Conservation of Black Bears, Climate Change Monitoring Base
Yushan National Park, Taiwan’s second national park and also the first high-mountain national park, was established on April 10, 1985. This park boasts magnificent landscapes, diverse ecosystems, and unique cultural resources, showcasing rich forest biomes from the equator to the Arctic tundra. As Taiwan’s largest terrestrial conservation area, covering the highest mountain range, Yushan National Park plays a central role in Taiwan’s land conservation efforts.
In the history of remarkable land conservation achievements in Taiwan, blocking the construction of the “Yushan-Yuli Line” of the New Central Cross-island Highway stands out as one of the major milestones. This proposed highway would have crossed the Jade Mountain Range and the Central Mountain Range, spanning from Tataka to Yuli. Over 5,000 hectares of mining areas in the Walami have been decommissioned. These efforts have helped preserve Taiwan’s ridge and extensive pristine forests in the Lakulaku River Basin area. Over the past 30 years, research and surveys on Taiwan’s black bear population have revealed that this wilderness forest is home to the highest black bear density in Taiwan. In recent years, numerous sightings of black bear families have been recorded in the park. Looking ahead, we plan to collaborate with high-mountain parks such as Sheipa National Park and Taroko National Park, as well as forestry agencies, to unify our efforts in expanding and enhancing the capacity for the conservation of Taiwan’s black bears.
The high-mountain ecosystem serves as a sentinel for observing the impact of climate change. The Headquarters will continue monitoring the high-mountain ecosystem and indicator species to formulate strategies for climate change adaptation. In addition, in response to the national greenhouse gas net-zero emissions policy, a carbon management program is also being implemented, outlining the goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
Exemplifying High-Mountain Ecotourism and Forest Experiences
Yushan National Park takes pride in its 30 most desired mountain routes and has been a popular destination for mountaineers for over a century. To protect the sensitive and fragile ecological environment and the quality of recreation in high-mountain areas, the Headquarters has undertaken various initiatives. These include the initial “Clean Mountain Areas” action to remove long-standing litter in the mountain areas, the “Improved Facilities” action to set up facilities such as hiking trails, suspension bridges, and mountain cabins, and the “Sustainable Recreation” action to implement a total entry quota management system and strengthen efforts to prevent mountain accidents and conduct rescues. Currently, the construction of the new Guangao Cabin, a significant campsite on the Batongguan Traversing Trail, is underway. There will be ongoing renovation projects for mountain cabins within the park, alongside the development of high-quality high-mountain ecotourism services, aiming to enhance the international standard of mountain trekking services.
Respecting the original indigenous tribes and their ancestors’ cultural heritage within the Park, the Headquarters actively conducts research and collects materials to produce booklets and videos that portray the significance of the culture and names of traditional places of Indigenous peoples in the Park. Simultaneously, resource-sharing mechanisms have been established with local and neighboring indigenous communities. The Dongpu Service Center was established in Dongpu Neighborhood 1 at the end of last year (2022), providing local services to indigenous peoples and promoting community recreational development. Furthermore, active collaboration with the Bunun tribes in Hualien and along the Southern Cross-Island Highway has demonstrated a positive approach to the preservation and inheritance of traditional culture.
By combining scientific education with the exploration of national park natural resources, the Headquarters has promoted the Tataka area as a research base and established collaborations with neighboring schools to integrate scientific research into their formal school curriculum. This initiative aligns with the concept of “Core Competencies” in the 12-Year Basic Education framework, facilitating experiential learning in the natural environment. It transforms Yushan National Park into the largest outdoor classroom accessible to all.
National Parks and Sustainable Development March Forward Together
The establishment of Taiwan’s national parks signifies the beginning of Taiwan’s commitment to conservation. The establishment of the National Parks Service, Ministry of the Interior represents the dawn of a new era, characterized by enhanced capacity and cooperation within Taiwan’s national parks. Taiwan aligns itself with global trends by adopting the international brand of “national parks,” firmly responding to the “30x30” biodiversity conservation goals outlined in COP15 agreements, sustainable indicators of the SDGs, global climate change challenges, and the 2050 net-zero emissions target. The establishment of Taiwan’s national parks provides natural solutions for the sustainable development of both Taiwan and the Earth. This significant milestone marks the starting point for future endeavors and collaborations, ushering in a new chapter in national park conservation.