Ma promises to be an environmental president
Taipei, March 12 (CNA)
Ma also highlighted the importance of afforestation at a central government activity held in Taoyuan County to mark the 87th anniversary of the death of Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of the Republic of China, and Arbor Day, which is observed March 12.
During the event, Ma planted a tree, as did Vice President Vincent Siew, Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, Premier Sean Chen, Control Yuan President Wang Chien-shien, National Defense Minister Kao Hua-chu and Agriculture Minister Chen Bao-ji.
"Planting trees today is for Taiwan's ecology on the one hand and for commemorating the founding father on the other," Ma said.
He introduced Sun as a modern political leader who advocated the importance of afforestation, and touted it as a very important part of efforts to prevent or curtail natural disasters.
Addressing his government's afforestation practices since he became president in 2008, Ma said he has promoted the formation of three forest parks on flat ground in Chiayi, Hualien and Pingtung counties, each of which cover over 1,000 hectares.
The construction of the parks, part of the "Loving Taiwan" 12 national construction projects, began in 2008. The Danongdafu Forest Park in Hualien, which is 40 times larger than the Daan Forest Park in Taipei, has been opened to the public since the completion of preliminary construction last May.
Aside from planting trees and expanding green land, Ma said, he has also managed to reduce the country's total carbon dioxide emissions by 4.1 percent in 2008 and by 4.9 percent in 2009. He said he is hopeful that carbon emissions will be cut down to 2005 levels by 2020.
Chen Bao-ji, for his part, revealed that a total of 133 tree-planting activities around Taiwan have been planned for the next month in celebration of Arbor Day.
Since 2003, Arbor Day has been expanded to one month, with local governments distributing free saplings and holding public activities to encourage people to plant trees.
Chen said the Council of Agriculture began in 2008 to promote afforestation around the country. As of the end of 2011, it had created 18,695 hectares of forest, equivalent in area to 748 Daan Forest Parks, he said.
The scale is translated to an increase of 2.5 pings (one ping is equivalent to 3.3 square meters) of green land per person per year, he added.
The forests, which are able to absorb 280,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year, have greatly helped improve the living quality of Taiwanese people, he said.
(By Lee Shu-hua, Yang Shu-min and Elizabeth Hsu)