Taipei, April 22 (CNA) Taiwan's efforts at bird conservation have made it one of the world's best bird watching destinations, foreign bird lovers said after a recent marathon-style bird-watching competition in Taiwan.
"I've never seen so many birds at the same time in my life," said K.K. Tam, 52, from Hong Kong, one of the contestants in the race to record the largest number of bird species in a designated 24-hour period.
Tam said he was surprised at how well the biological diversity has been maintained at Dasyueshan National Forest Recreation Area in central Taiwan, where the marathon-style bird watching race was held last week.
When he goes home, Tam said, he plans to introduce the "bird watching paradise" to his friends.
Tam's comments were echoed by many other contestants who traveled from afar to explore the rich bird resources at the park.
There are some 107 bird species in 32 families, including the endemic Swinhoe's Pheasant and Taiwan Yuhina, at the park.
According to contestant Randolph Hester, who has been devoted to conservation of the black-faced spoonbill in Taiwan since 1997, Taiwan's willingness to work with the global community to protect wildlife is part of the reason for its environmental achievements.
Hester, a professor of landscape architecture and environmental planning at the University of California, Berkeley, said Taiwan has been one of the most cooperative countries in East Asia working with non-governmental organizations like the one to which he belongs.
"Local people seem to have a real commitment to the land," said Hester, a founding member of the Spoonbill Action Voluntary Echo. "Taiwan has been carrying out amazing projects from an international standard."
One example is the establishment of a 20 square-kilometer national scenic area in southwestern Taiwan as a habitat for black-faced spoonbills, he said.
Meanwhile, some other contestants said the Taiwanese people's ability to recognize and catch up with the green trend has enabled the country to maintain environmental sustainability without sacrificing its economic development.
Nick Bray from the United Kingdom said he was impressed with Taiwan's rapid development in the area of eco-tourism in recent years, which prompted him to participate in the competition and seek networking opportunities with the local population.
The director of a U.K.-based agency that offers birding tours around the world, Bray said he planned to introduce some birder-tourists to Taiwan this year after exploring other markets such as India and Costa Rica.
"Taiwan is certainly the next big market for British bird lovers," he said.
(By Lee Hsin-Yin)