Development of Insect Conservation in Taiwan

Insect species are of great value to human-beings in many ways, whether economically, ecologically, in education, literature, art or recreation, and countries around the world are actively pursuing insect research and conservation work. Taiwan is rich in insect life and has been well-known as the "Kingdom of Butterflies" by its abundant and diverse insect resources since the late 19th century. Historically, the insect fauna of Taiwan has attracted attentions from both scientists and insect traders around the world since that era. In the early 20th century, the insect trading and insect collecting had ever greatly contributed to the supplementary economic sources for agricultural population in Taiwan, nevertheless, overuse and unlimited consuming of natural resource in accompany with large-scaled habitat alternation after the 1950s have caused rapid decline of numerous insect species. Over the current decades, changes in natural environments and fatal commercial collecting have led even more steady decline in the number of Taiwan's insect species and in their populations (Unno, 1974; Severinghaus, 1977; Marshall, 1982; New, 1984; Hamano, 1987). According to the present knowledge, since the 19th century, at least 5 species of Taiwanese butterflies and un-calculated species of other groups have become extinct (see Hsu & Yen, 1997; Sibatani, 1993; Yang, 1988, 1991a, 1991b, 1998, 1999; Yen & Yang, 2001). Among the threatened insects, aquatic (freshwater or marine) and those inhabiting in mangrove forests, lowland forests and medium elevation mountains are the most endangered by habitat loss, commercial collecting and some immoral scientific collecting.

The first real steps toward wildlife conservation in Taiwan was taken place after the 1970s. However, the issue of insect conservation had not received proper attention then, neither by the government agencies nor by the public, though in the same year, the Council of Agriculture was also given responsibility for nature conservation and conservation research funding. At the Ministry of the Interior, the National Parks Department was founded in 1981 to plan and manage the country's national parks. With their efforts, six national parks have been established in the following 15 years. Although the concept and importance of conserving insects and their habitats have been advocated by the butterfly-watching activities since the 1970s, the executive and legislative actions of proposing a new law for regulating wildlife conservation was just started in the late 1980s. Eventually, the Wildlife Conservation Law (WCL) was enacted in 1989. In the Wildlife Conservation Law, the Council of Agriculture has assigned 18 insect species plus 4 species listed in the CITES appendices as legally protected species.

Since 1994, a special Committee for Global Environment Change in the Executive Yuan and a Biodiversity Conservation Group was erected under this Committee, the related governmental agencies, however, still had difficulties in developing national strategies or action plans for conserving insect diversity due to the lack of supporting policies and public awareness. Fortunately after several efforts which held by academic societies and involved governmental support, the importance of insect conservation has getting more attention from policy makers and the public. Some actions are taken to help in insect conservation, research and habitat protection by governmental support.

Previously, the policy of insect conservation in Taiwan tended to species-oriented conservation, while more recently, the conservation strategies have turned to habitat-orientated since species-oriented study and policy could be very selective by personal viewpoint and interest, but does not contribute significantly in reconstructing the environmental quality and species diversity. As stated by Spitzer et al. (1997), Yang (1981, 1991a, 1991b, 1998, 1999), Yen & Yang (2001), habitat alternation and disturbances caused by wood logging or road construction could lead unpredictable impact on local insect populations. Therefore, in Taiwan, any development activity should be proved by a reliable Environmental Impact Assessment. Captive breeding could be a possible resolution to reduce threats to some endangered species (Back & Rachuba, 1985; Boender, 1995; Hutton, 1985; Morton, 1977; Parsons, 1984, 1996), while a well-designed rules should be proposed before the commercial captive breeding causes unexpected hybridization, inbreeding depression (Orr, 1994), commercial competition and threat to wild populations (Yen & Yang, 2001).
In general, the studies and policies on insect conservation in Taiwan are still very preliminary and in need of some improvements either in practice and theories.

Insect Collecting in Taiwan

Insect collecting in Taiwan can be involved to several different official administrations and laws. According to the present rules, all foreign visitors can not get permit alone with their own collecting or academic projects, but they can very possibly get permit for insect collecting by collaborating with any of Taiwanese institutions which has owned legal permits issued by the Council of Agriculture (for protected species) and any authority concerned of the National Parks (for any species). Anyone who is interested in obtaining information about legal insect collecting in Taiwan and the regulations involved is strongly recommended to consult the Council of Agriculture and as well contact the authors.

For English information of Wildlife Conservation and all the involved laws and regulations in Taiwan, R.O.C. see the following official links. The full checklist of insects protected in Taiwan is provided in Appendix 1. For more detailed information of Wildlife Conservation Law, see Appendix 2 for the full text in English version. For applying permission of utilizing protected species in Taiwan, see Appendices 3 and 4 for reference. Appendix 5 gives a list of all the institutions which may be helpful in protected species identification in Taiwan.

Council of Agriculture (COA)
Nature Conservation in Taiwan, R.O.C. (by COA)
Taiwan Endemic Species Research Institute, COA
Taiwan Forestry Bureau, COA
International Convention and Import Regulation, Board of Foreign Trade
Construction and Planning Administration, Ministry of Interior
Yangmingshan National Park
Shei-pa National Park
Taroko National Park
Yushan National Park
Kenting National Park
Kinmen National Park

Coverage of this book

This book includes all the protected insect species in the WCL, and for reference, all the species listed in the CITES appendices (including Appendix III) are also introduced in this book. Although Taiwan has not been accepted as a member of the CITES, four of the CITES species are protected by the WCL and importing all the other CITES species would still need legal and proper certificates which would be required and examined by the Board of Foreign Trade.
The "International Part" in this book contains all the species protected by the CITES, including 4 of them also protected by the WCL, while the "Domestic Part" covers all the species listed in the WCL. The involved scientific names and their various combinations are verified, validated, listed and annotated when the present accepted names are different from those adopted in the WCL. Some species with unresolved taxonomic status (e.g. Campsosternus gemma in Taiwan) or questionable conservation status are preserved in this book. Thus we have attempted to present the book with contemporary knowledge and wish to receive any constructive comment for a better policy designation in the future.