Taipei’s firefly conservation efforts star at international symposium

Taipei City Government's success in transforming the northern Taiwan metropolis into a global capital for firefly conservation is taking center stage at the first locally staged International Firefly Symposium running April 24-26 at Taipei Zoo.

Under an NT$50 million (US$1.65 million) firefly ecological restoration project, one of many TCG initiatives promoting biodiversity and ecological sustainability in recent years, the city parks of Daan Forest, Mucha and Rongxing are seeing fireflies for the first time in over two decades.

During an address at the opening of the IFS, Vice President Chen Chien-jen said fireflies are a bellwether of environmental health as they are extremely sensitive to changes in their habitat caused by climatic variables and pollution. It is expected that by hosting the symposium, Taiwan's efforts to raise ecological awareness among the public and protect the local environment will enhance its reputation as a frontrunner in greening the globe, he added.

Despite challenges posed by Daan Forest Park's central city location, proximity to high-traffic roads, exposure to an abundance of artificial light and the presence of more than 10,000 visitors per day, the project has turned the green space into one of the most important habitats in the city for fireflies. This accomplishment has also helped make Taipei the only highly-populated metropolis in the world to achieve such a goal, according to TCG.

An equal share of the credit for this achievement can be attributed to a research team led by NTU professor emeritus Yang Ping-shih, as well as the coordinated efforts of civic groups, government agencies and more than 10,000 volunteers, the TCG said, adding that a number of local academics and city government officials will share their experiences and insights on the implementation and results of the project during the IFS.

Taipei was selected at the 2014 IFS in Florida as host of the 2017 symposium following a presentation on the Wenshan District restoration project. Commencing October 2012, the undertaking involves protecting fireflies at a 3.5-hectare plot adjacent to Yongjian Elementary School. Various measures were employed such as planting adult trees to shield fireflies from urban light pollution, establishing a 300-meter grassed waterway, building four ecological ponds and developing a noninvasive light-emitting diode, or LED, red light torch.

The 2017 IFS gathers more than 190 entomologists from 20-plus countries. It features keynote speeches and research paper presentations, as well as a tour of Daan Forest, Mucha and Rongxing parks. Another highlight is a post-symposium tour of Alishan�an ecological treasure trove and tourism hot spot in Chiayi County, southern Taiwan.

First held nine years ago in Thailand, the symposium became a triennial event following the 2014 edition in Florida. The 2017 IFS is co-organized by Friends of Daan Forest Park Foundation, National Taiwan University's Department of Entomology, Taipei Zoo, Alishan National Scenic Area Administration and Taiwan Entomological Society with the support of Forestry Bureau under the Council of Agriculture, Tourism Bureau under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and Taipei City Government.

Source: Taiwan Today