2016.3 (Issue No. 285)
Global economic development has greatly depleted energy and natural resources while damaging natural environment. Global warming and climate change are becoming even more evident. During the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2015, climate change has been reaffirmed as an important issue mankind is facing. Taiwan is located in the subtropical marine climate region, which is considered as being on the borderline of high risk by international climate change researches. Historical data show that increasing temperature, shifting of precipitation patterns, rising sea level, and tendency of frequent and intensified extreme climate all influence agricultural production and biodiversity in Taiwan.
Therefore, the Council of Agriculture (COA) held the Agricultural Adaptation Policy Conference in response to climate change on June 15, 2010 with the purpose of actively seeking for consensus and studies on relevant strategies and measures. The Executive Yuan approved the National Adaptation Strategy guidelines to Climate Change on June 25, 2012, which referred different adaptation measures from various countries as well as took into consideration the environmental particularity of Taiwan and its historical experiences. The program’s content illustrated impacts and challenges as well as adaptation strategies in eight domains including disasters, critical infrastructure, water resources, land use, coastal zones, energy supply and industry, agricultural production and biodiversity, and health. Subsequently the Action Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change in Taiwan (2013-2017) was approved on May 22, 2015 which proposed a complete adaptation strategy as well as promotion mechanisms and complementary measures for its implementation. The COA is responsible for overseeing the planning of various action plans related to agricultural production and biodiversity. Moreover, it continues to promote relevant policies and measures by contributing to other adaptation projects in different fields.
Adaptation to climate change is highly concerned by the international community. Therefore the Paris Agreement was passed by COP21 in 2015 which takes the pre-industrial period as benchmark and strives to keep the global temperature increase less than 2°C by the end of 21 century and had better pursued to limit temperature increase less than 1.5°C by reducing emission of greenhouse gases. Climate change adaptation objectives and regulations required all parties to enhance adaptation, resiliency (recovery) and reduce vulnerability. National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) were required to assess the impact of climate change, and take into consideration the vulnerability of Human, environment and ecosystem. It also needs to rank priority for each action, and periodically reviews adaptation policy and program through monitoring and evaluation.
The Act of Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act was promulgated in Taiwan in July, 2015. In addition to regulations on greenhouse gas reduction, adaptation to climate change was also included in the act to stay in line with international standpoint and norm. As the central authority of agriculture, COA continues to promote agricultural adaptation programs against climate change according to national and international situation. II. Agricultural adaptation strategy in response to climate change in Taiwan
Agricultural production is a bio-industry that relies highly on water, land, biodiversity, and other natural resources, which is directly under the influence of climate. As the climate changes, increasing temperature, intensified typhoon, uneven seasonal precipitation, rising sea level, extreme weather are likely to occur more frequently and may decrease crop production, drop crop quality, jeopardize food security, damage ecological habitat, and threaten biodiversity.
Facing the challenge of climate change, COA proposed the Agricultural Production and Biodiversity Strategy under the Action Plan for adaptation to Climate Change in Taiwan (2013-2017) as follows: 1. Adaptation strategy for Agricultural production
(1) Water resources strategy
Promote pipeline irrigation system for dry farming and modern water conservation facility. Increase irrigation water efficiency by reviewing regional farmland’s overall irrigation water application mechanism. Implement rotating recession of irrigation water during dry season to increase the overall utilization of water resource during the drought so as to maintain decent production of grain crops and minimize the impact to agriculture. Strengthen storage installations for agricultural water and carry out field experiments to develop a water management model that emphasizes on both water-impoundment and drought-resistance which proves suitable for Taiwan’s rice paddy. Through the adjustment of irrigation method, the efficiency of water resources utilization can be improved to increase commercial profit.
(2) Land use and resource management
By following the territorial planning, maintain proper quantity of high quality farmland and handle the farmland conversion cases with caution. Apply more intensive regulatory measures to outstanding farmlands in order to protect the integrity of production environment and farmers' interests, secure outstanding farmland resources, and maintain sustainable development for agriculture. Through the planning of farmland resource spaces, it is possible to effectively distinguish important agricultural development areas and facilitate the effective centralized utilization of agricultural resources in response to the impacts of climate change and ensure food security.
(3) Agricultural production plan
Activate fallow land and encourage contract cultivation of import substitute crops and export potential crops in order to exploit multiple farmland usages for the sustainable development of agriculture. Promote large scale production and marketing zones to adjust marketing model of rice and vegetables. Thus, the corresponding capability in response to adjusting to climate change and management efficiency could be elevated.
Developing a food security system according to the level of risk and adjusting crop, livestock and fishery production. Simultaneously, enhancing rationalized planning and utilization of production resources, and safeguard food safety as well as competitive agro-food industries. Not only maintain adequate number of acreage, but also select appropriate crop to be cultivated according to land property in order to conserve water resource and improve environment ecology while enhancing the effective utilization of farmland resource.
(4) Increasing agriculture’s resiliency by integrating technologies
Improve the resiliency of agro-food industry by establishing seed trade program and stress-resistant variety development. Strengthen the monitoring and detection of major animal and plant pests while setting up early-warning pattern and emergency response system. Developing integrated pest prevention technology and developing countermeasure to minimize impact based on early-warning monitoring and epidemiology data.
(5) Establishing a monitoring system for agricultural meteorology and changes in domestic and overseas markets
Gathering information and databases on agricultural weather cycles and fish migration patterns. Offering disaster occurrence ratio of different areas and setting up a monitoring and warning system to enhance the efficiency of adaptation policy in the future. Updating domestic and foreign real-time production and marketing information while building a monitoring and early-warning system in order to stabilize domestic food and feed supply and price.
2. Adaptation strategy for biodiversity
(1) Establishing a multi-goal and sustainable adaptation model for forestry operation while promoting forestation
Forests help with soil and water conservation, water source and land protection, and carbon sequestration. It is necessary to carefully plan the forest area delimitation and improve forest physiognomy; identify and mark forest disaster-prone zones as well as environmentally sensitive areas, and their affecting range. Moreover, it is also important to effectively prohibit over-deforestation and illegal logging for the sake of sustainable forestry.
(2) Enhancing the connection and management of blue belt and green belt networks in protected reserves
Protecting and connecting existing land, sea, and inland water reserves, or potential biodiversity hotspots by establishing and connecting coastal, wetland, and freshwater conservation areas (blue belt) with woodlands and grasslands (green belt). This helps minimize the impact of intensified drought and erosion caused by climate change.
(3) Decelerating the rate of biodiversity loss caused by human disturbance
Implementing control measures to release the ecosystem from pressure caused by interferences such as various pollutions, development, overexploitation, wildfires, and pests among others. Establishing a national system for the management of invasive alien species. Planning and carrying out prevention, eradication, and management of invasive species. It is also necessary to conduct rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems according to ecological principles in order to restore the ecological function of contaminated farmlands, fish farms, saline soils, landslides, and subsidence areas.
(4) Enhancing the preservation and rational utilization of genetic diversity
Establishing a germplasm conservation system to preserve the genetic information of crops, plants, aquatic animals, livestock, and wildlife, especially those endangered species that are extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Moreover, it is necessary to identify crop, plant, aquatic animal, and livestock species that are temperature-drought-saline resistant and capable of adapting to climate change.
(5) Strengthening biodiversity monitoring, data collection, analysis and application for the assessment of vulnerability and risk of biodiversity
Currently there is an insufficiency of information about the ecosystem and species’ vulnerability and susceptibility to the impacts of climate change. In order to identify the change patterns of biodiversity under the influence of climate change and human disturbance, and then revise the corresponding strategy and action based on the result, it is necessary to establish a biodiversity monitoring system that regularly collects observation data and stores them in efficiently managed databases and information centers. The data can be analyzed to be used for conducting result assessment and strategic action plan adjustment. Moreover, the development of an early-warning system can be used to prepare for events that could possibly bring negative impact on biodiversity.
III. Conclusion and prospect
In summary, Taiwan is forced to have to face all sorts of severe impacts and challenges that global climate change delivers, especially to agriculture. Nevertheless, the cause of climate change or extreme weather is not yet clear and fully understood. Relevant assessment research and observation data are incomplete and requires further collection and analyses of data on climate change pattern.
Agriculture relies on natural resources to produce the food that people need. As the threat posed by climate change to agricultural production grows, it is necessary to actively protect water and soil resources, adjust crop cultivation system, activate farmland production, and develop stress-resistance varieties with the help of technology to integrate agricultural resources and stabilize food supply so as to ensure food security. Hopefully a sustainable agriculture that is adaptive to climate risks can be established by implementing and reviewing adaptive policy to climate change.