2022 Conference on Conservation Actions for Endangered Species: 6 Conservation Strategies from Public and Private Sectors to Protect Endangered Animals

The 2022 Conference on Conservation Actions for Endangered Species, organized by the Forestry Bureau of the Council of Agriculture (COA), took place on August 15th and 16th. Participants included delegates of relevant government agencies and conservation organizations in Taiwan, academics, and members of the public concerned with wildlife conservation. Around 200 people attended the event in person, while others watched it via live streaming, with a peak viewership of nearly 300 people. The event reached an average of 7,137 individuals. The Forestry Bureau said that relevant experts were invited to this year's conference to present 11 latest research papers on the conservation of endangered species such as otters. In addition, 5 strategy forums were organized, in which experts and academics worked together to generate 6 practical conservation strategies to address relevant issues, thereby providing an important reference for the future conservation of endangered animals. The Forestry Bureau will also collaborate with other agencies, encourage the general public to support conservation actions, increase knowledge about endangered animals, and step up joint efforts to bring the populations of these species back to normal size.
In his opening remarks, Lin Hwa-Ching, Director General of the Forestry Bureau, pointed out that many endangered species such as the leopard cat, grass owl, and russet sparrow inhabit border zones between mountain foothills and arable flat land, a habitat that highly overlaps with human settlements. For this reason, in addition to conducting necessary surveys, the Forestry Bureau also launched a payments for ecosystem services (PES) policy, which provides farmers and fishermen substantial incentives to take care of endangered species living in their private lands. For instance, a farmer from Kaohsiung who is participating in PES voluntarily gave up one third of his harvest to avoid disturbing nests built by pheasant-tailed jacanas in his white water snowflake farm. Such loss should not be borne solely by the farmer but by the general public together, so that the value of wildlife conservation can take root in the public mind, thereby attaining the ultimate goal of harmonious coexistence between humans and animals.
Director General Lin Hwa-Ching also stated that conservation of endangered species cannot be achieved through the efforts of one government agency alone. Its effectiveness depends on cross-agency collaboration, the participation of experts from various disciplines and non-governmental organizations, and support from the general public. Therefore, he thanked the collaborative endeavors by units of transportation, water resources, and national parks, the financial support of the Council of Agriculture, and the engagement of all partners.
The Forestry Bureau and the Endemic Species Research Institute (ESRI) have completed action plans for the conservation of 11 endangered species, including the Formosan flying fox, mountain hawk-eagle, russet sparrow, grass owl, Maki's keelback, harpist brown frog, and 5 species of primitive salamanders. These plans will be provided to relevant agencies and organizations in due course as a guide for the implementation and planning of endangered wildlife conservation actions and a basis for conservation work. The Forestry Bureau's Nature Conservation website will also set up a section for the disclosure of conservation plans for 22 endangered species and their relevant information.
Yang Jia-Dong, Director of ESRI, especially expressed his gratitude towards civilian scientists' participation, which represents an increase in contribution from civil society to the conservation work.

The topics of the 5 forums in this conference were: "The Construction of Reasonable Relationships Between Humans and Wildlife"; "Major Threats for Threatened Bird Species and Conservation of Priority Bird Species in Taiwan"; "Suggestions for Habitat Deterioration or Disappearance Concerning Amphibious Wildlife Conservation"; "Reptile Wild Herd Restoration and Conservation Strategies"; and "Freshwater Fish Interdisciplinary Conservation Actions". The vigorous discussions among attending experts, academics, and other participants yielded 6 specific strategies as follows:
I.    Increase wildlife habitats through consumer spending: Create a production model that is beneficial for both agriculture and wildlife habitats; provide farmers with agricultural methods or simple habitat creation methods that fulfill the needs of both agricultural production and wildlife habitats; and encourage the public to support eco-friendly agricultural products.
II.   Use non-toxic chemicals: Improve the awareness and attention of relevant environmental management departments towards the issue of agrochemicals; reduce the use of rodenticides and communicate the appropriate use of chemicals to farmers through administrative coordination and ecological network platforms.
III. Bring stray dogs and cats home: Enhance the removal of stray dogs and cats in hot spots of endangered species, and raise public awareness of the reasonable interaction between humans and wildlife.
IV. Use diversified methods: Continue to monitor wild animal populations; promote friendly methods of agricultural hazard prevention and self-management of indigenous peoples' hunting activities; and strike a balance between human daily life, traditional culture, and reasonable use of animal resources.
V.    Become a good neighbor to wildlife: Encourage local communities to patrol the habitats of endangered species and protect the original habitats of wildlife. For wildlife populations undergoing ex-situ restoration, strengthen the cooperative monitoring with surrounding local communities to reduce the threat of poaching.
VI. Connect every sector of the society: Construct communication platforms across government agencies of all levels, industry, academia, and civilian organizations to share information of endangered species and conduct exchanges on conservation practices.

The Forestry Bureau said that these strategies, which involve rolling reviews of action plans for individual endangered species, will begin implementation progressively starting from 2023. Related outcomes will also be published on the Forestry Bureau's Nature Conservation website.
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