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Taiwan Plans for "Tropical Kew"

TAIWAN
24 September 2007

From Taiwan Headlines, Zep Hu

Taiwan's first species preserve center for tropical flora will be partially opened to the public next January, senior officials at the Pingtung-based center disclosed Thursday.

The center, founded by Taiwan Cement Corp. and three other Taiwan-based companies, started operating in March, with the aim of collecting and preserving some 6,000 species of tropical flora by 2012.

All four sponsors have already injected NT$20 million (about US$600,000) into this year's operation, with pledges of annual funding of the same amount for the four years to come. Taiwan Cement Corp. also donated five hectares of land as the center's initial operation base.

The center is managed by Li Chia-wei, who is also the director of the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the Hsinchu-based National Tsing Hua University.

During a meeting with county government leaders Thursday, Li noted that the two largest floral reserves in the world - the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in London and the Missouri Botanical Garden in the United States - are dedicated to the preservation of flora species in temperate zones and that the world has yet to see a top-notch reserve facility for tropical and sub- tropical flora.

He added that he hopes the center will become the top species preserve center for tropical flora in Asia in 10 years and the leading one in the world within two decades.

Li said the center's staff have already gathered 1,300 specimens in the past six months, 300 more than their target.

"We estimate the number will reach 1,600 by the end of this year, and top 2,000 early next year, " Li said. "The ultimate goal is a collection of 20,000 species of tropical and sub-tropical flora."

 

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