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Taiwan promotes legislation to protect wetlands

TAIPEI--Taiwan is promoting a draft bill on the protection and conservation of its wetlands, with the aim of raising greater public awareness of the issue, Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan said Friday.

Lee said he hopes the public will be awakened to the importance of conservation in such areas and that wetlands will become part of people's leisure life.

He was speaking at press conference held by his ministry's Construction and Planning Agency to mark 2013 World Wetlands Day, which is usually observed on Feb. 2 every year.

Wetlands do not just provide water filtration and protection from floods, but also host a wide variety of plant and animal life, according to Marinus Otte, editor-in-chief of the international scientific journal Wetlands, who was invited to speak at the event.

In Central Taiwan, people have delicious oysters to eat because of the wetlands along the coast, said Otte, a biologist from the Netherlands.

He said he was impressed by the involvement of businesses, the government, academics, and even elementary school students in Taiwan's promotion of wetland conservation.

The producer of the Wetlands journal, the Society of Wetland Scientists, is an international organization of about 3,500 members dedicated to fostering sound wetland science, education, and management.

Feb. 2 marks the 1971 adoption of a Wetlands Convention in the Iranian city of Ramsar. Since 1997, government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and citizens at all levels of the community have been using World Wetlands Day to undertake actions aimed at raising public awareness of the value of wetlands.

In November 2012, Taiwan's Cabinet approved a draft wetland bill proposed by the Ministry of the Interior and forwarded it to the Legislative Yuan for enactment.

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