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Plan launched to create geoparks

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff Reporter
Website: Taipei times

GOOD FOR EVERYONE: The Forestry Bureau said that creating geoparks not only helps to conserve unique landscapes, but it can also stimulate economic growth
By Lee I-chia  /  Staff Reporter
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A basalt landscape on an island in the Penghu archipelago, where Penghu Marine Geopark is being planned, is shown in an undated photo (photo courtesy of the Forestry Bureau)

A declaration aimed at protecting areas with particular geological and landscape features by establishing a network of geological parks (geoparks) was signed in Taipei on Monday at the opening banquet of the International Conference of Landscape Conservation.

The Landscape Conservation Taipei Declaration says conservation of Taiwan’s landscape is to be placed among the most important issues on national agendas, is a national responsibility for the global environment and the implementation of the geological parks is a means to improve the conservation of natural landscapes and sustain social-cultural heritage at the same time.

The declaration also says that while legislative and government support is needed to ensure the implementation of the program, to make the plan sustainable the public needs to be involved in environmental protection and social-economic planning.

Geography and earth sciences academics from the UK, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Switzerland, Poland and Hungary were invited to the conference, hosted by the Forestry Bureau, to exchange views with local academics, government officials and officials from the Tourism Bureau as well as the Forestry Bureau.

The Forestry Bureau said there are already more than 300 sites throughout the country listed as rare landscape conservation sites, but only 20 are designated as nature reserves, meaning that there are still many neglected sites that are at risk of being destroyed.

The Forestry Bureau said it had designated four geoparks according to UNESCO’s core values: conservation, environmental education, community development and landscape recreation.

Geoparks, which feature unique landscapes of scientific, educational and esthetic values, can enhance local community involvement and stimulate economy growth through eco-tourism, the Forestry Bureau said, adding that as of the end of last year, there were a total of 77 geopark sites in 25 countries.

Among the four designated geoparks, Penghu Marine Geopark (澎湖海洋地質公園) features a total of 10 geological spots, including its famous natural basaltic cliffs found on the sides of mesas, historic fishing weirs built with coral and basaltic rocks, as well as the Double Heart Stone Weir, which is a popular tourist attraction.

Taitung Liji Badland Geopark (台東利吉泥惡地地質公園) has a variety of landscapes, including badland fruits, sea ports, bays, mountainous landscapes with eroded gullies and five Aboriginal communities within the park.

Yulin Caoling Geopark (雲林草嶺地質公園) features the Caoling Landslide, which is one of the largest landslides in the nation. Mud volcanoes are the highlights at the Kaohsiung Yanchao Badland Geopark (高雄燕巢泥惡岩地質地質公園).

The Forestry Bureau said more geoparks would be eventually be designated to form a network to protect the country’s valuable landscape and issues concerning geologic hazards, tourism, heritage, conservation and diversity would be discussed during the two-day conference.

Taiwan citizens traveling to Penghu for tourism to receive double benefits in January

By George Liao, Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2019/01/03 15:54
Website: Taiwan News

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Penghu's Wangan Island (Photo courtesy of George Liao)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Taiwan citizens traveling to Penghu for tourism in January are eligible to receive both the hotel subsidies offered by the country’s Tourism Bureau and the free gift sets offered by Penghu County Government.

The Tourism Bureau announced in December last year that individual travelers who are under 59 years old and over 30 are eligible for a maximum of NT$1,000 in subsidy per room if they stay at a hotel in Taiwan during the period from Sunday to Thursday in January 2019. For citizens over 60 years old or under 30, the maximum subsidy per room is NT$1,500 during the same period, the announcement added.

In addition to the hotel subsidies, every non-Penghu citizen over 18 years old who visits Penghu during the period from Nov. 5, 2018 to Apr. 30, 2019 is eligible to receive a gift package worth NT$300, the county government announced in November last year.

The county government said it had prepared a total of 50,000 gift sets, and will give every eligible visitor one set. The gift sets will be available until all are given away, the county government added.

Penghu Tourism Department deputy director Liu Mei-fan (劉美凡) said that as of Jan. 1, only 13,173 gift sets were left, and it is estimated that all of them will be claimed by the end of January or before the beginning of the new lunar year, when the whole gift set giveaway activity will wrap up. Therefore, she urged people planning to visit Penghu to do so before the benefits end.

Penghu’s tourism department said eligible persons should present their flight or boat tickets and their ID cards at the front desks of designated places across Penghu when claiming the gift sets. The places for claiming the free gift sets include the arrival hall of Penghu Airport, Penghu Marine Geopark Center, the FamilyMart convenience store on Wangan Island, and the visitor center on Qimei Island.

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Penghu Great Bridge (Photo courtesy of Orrin Hoopman)
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Penghu's Wangan Island (Photo courtesy of George Liao)
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Penghu visitors are claiming free gift sets (Photo by CNA)