Tiny Taiwan's Big Conservation Effort

In response to the article ``Clinton to Ban Taiwan's Wildlife Products,'' April 13, I would like to express our deep regret and dissatisfaction over the decision to impose sanctions against Taiwan. It neither takes into consideration the many efforts we have made to promote and enforce wildlife conservation, nor compares our efforts to those of neighboring countries.

Taiwan is a small island of approximately 14,400 square miles (slightly larger than the combined area of Massachusetts and Connecticut), and yet we have managed to allocate an annual budget of US$300 million for natural conservation this year. We have 815 conservation enforcement officers and 60 nongovernmental conservation organizations. We have not chosen merely to comply with international efforts, but have worked arduously to enforce and amend the current Wildlife Conservation Law (WCL). The amended WCL, expected to be swiftly approved by the Legislative Yuan (parliament), will drastically increase the punishment for trafficking in endangered species to a maximum of seven years in prison and/or a fine of US$100,000.

Since some animal parts are traditionally believed by Asians to contain medicinal properties, the government on Taiwan thinks the most effective way to change this cultural belief is through education. Therefore, environmental protection has become a main subject in our school curriculum. Also, eight nature education centers provide workshops on endangered species to more than 640 teachers.

We understand the difficulty in achieving immediate change in such cultural beliefs. However, we are pouring all our efforts into doing a better job. All we need is a bit more time. We believe that dialogue and cooperation, rather than sanctions, are the most productive means for achieving progress in this area. Frank S.S. Chang, Boston Coordination Council for North American Affairs

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