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  • Saving the country through environmental protection
  • 2012/03/12
Saving the country through environmental protection
On the morning of March 12—the anniversary of the passing of the nation's founding father Dr. Sun Yat-sen and also designated as Arbor Day—President Ma Ying-jeou visited National Defense University's Fu Hsing Kang College to attend Arbor Day activities there. Organized by the Council of Agriculture, this year's Arbor Day events focused on "ushering in a new low carbon era starting with the creation of forests." The president personally planted a Taiwan incense-cedar on the grounds of the campus to commemorate the 87th anniversary of the passing of Dr. Sun and to proclaim the government's emphasis on creating an environmentally friendly nation that protects its ecosystems.
In remarks, the president stated that forests are home to 80% of all terrestrial life, and each year the world's forests generate over US$720 billion of output value. The president said that since he took office in May 2008 the government has placed emphasis on disaster preparedness and rescue. In particular, the government's approach has been to "hope for the best, but prepare for the worst" and to "prepare for disasters in advance, deploy troops with an eye to disaster preparedness, and ensure readiness for rescue operations." President Ma further stressed that the government "emphasizes disaster preparedness over disaster relief, and evacuation over other preparedness measures." He also remarked that forest creation is an extremely important part of all disaster prevention and mitigation plans.

President Ma cited the “Liang Hui Wang” chapter of Mencius (孟子), where it is written: "If logging is regulated on a seasonal basis, there will be more wood than people can use. " And during the Warring States Period, Xunzi (荀子) pionted out, "When trees are felled and cultivated as the seasons dictate, people will have more than sufficient wood.” This indicates that the ancients had an awareness of environmental protection concepts back as far as the Spring and Autumn (770-403 B.C.) and Warring States (403-221 B.C.) periods. Meanwhile, Dr. Sun Yat-sen in his Plans for National Reconstruction also mentioned that creating forests is an important factor in economic development and furthermore wrote that the key to preventing flooding is to create forests. All of these concepts remain important even today.

President Ma mentioned that in an effort to promote afforestation, the government has created national forest parks in the Dongshi/Aogu area in Chiayi County, the Danong/Dafu area in Hualien County, and the Linhou/Silin area in Pingtung County. Of these, the forest park in Aogu was singled out for an award by the American Society of Landscape Architects in 2011, which he said was another example of Taiwan's soft power making its presence felt on the international stage.

In discussing the nation's achievements in conserving power and reducing carbon emissions, the president stated that Taiwan's carbon emissions volume in 2008 and 2009 declined by 4.1% and 4.9% from the previous years, respectively. Carbon emissions in 2010 rose slightly, but the main reason for this was economic development and growth. Nonetheless, energy efficiency was still 2% better than originally forecast. The president said that while carbon emissions for last year have yet to be fully tabulated, energy intensity continues to trend downward. This gives us even greater confidence that the nation will be able to achieve its pledge of reducing carbon emissions to 2005 levels by the year 2020.

President Ma stressed that the government will continue with afforestation work and initiate other efforts to ensure that we achieve our goal with regard to carbon emissions. At the same time, environmental protection has consistently been an important policy objective of the government. The president stated that just having environmental protection policies is not enough; environmental considerations must be incorporated into all government policies across the board. In the meantime, we all must become mindful of the need to conserve power and reduce carbon emissions in our daily lives, the president said, adding that this is the only way we can "save the country through environmental protection ."

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