To enhance air quality, the EPA has been urging the public to take part in improving the living environments around them. The rate of air quality purification zones “adopted” by entities such as businesses or communities has grown from 32% in 2014 to 51% in 2022. On 22 March 2023, a ceremony was held in Hualien to acknowledge excellent adopting entities, all of which received awards from the EPA Deputy Minister and were thanked for their hard work and efforts to maintain good air quality for all to enjoy.
Since 1995, the EPA has been promoting Air Quality Purification Zones to improve urban air quality, with a total of 1,315 zones designated to date. To encourage participation of private enterprises, communities, and other non-governmental organizations in the adoption and maintenance of Air Quality Purification Zones, after initial local screening, 73 adopted sites were recommended for the award, which then underwent onsite evaluations by the EPA to ultimately select 31 outstanding adopters located at 26 sites.
The EPA pointed out that the adopters recognized by these awards have not only kept their adopted zones clean, but also developed local characteristics by integrating unique geographical features, creating additional value.
For example, Chiayu Biking Trail in Chiayi City is maintained by local environmental volunteers based in Hong-ua and Shihtze Neighborhoods, where numerous trees and shrubs have been planted, to sequester a sum of nearly 105 metric tons of carbon per year. Such an accomplishment is particularly important for pollution and emission reduction.
Another example is the Keelung Maritime Cultural and Educational Foundation, which has adopted the Affiliated Keelung Maritime Senior High School of National Taiwan Ocean University as its Air Quality Purification Zone. The adopters have taken advantage of the site being based around a school, promoting environmental education by collaborating with foreign and local students as well as the Ministry of Education’s K-12 Education Administration.
Last but not least, Tongoil Blossom Park in Tucheng District, New Taipei City, has been adopted by the Tucheng Natural Landscape Conservation Association. Besides going to clean-up events, its volunteers also receive training to become certified ecological guides, providing guided tours and even participating in environmental education activities in schools. The diversification of their volunteer services has thus earned them the honor of unique contribution award.
The Air Quality Purification Zones function by planting trees and vegetation on public lands, such as enclosed landfills, exposed lands, or waste disposal sites, through subsidization. By purifying air, lowering dust and particulate matter, and regulating humidity and temperature, these plants and vegetation help improve air quality as well as conserve water, soil resources and ecosystems. With the current global endeavor to achieve zero-emissions, which aims for not only carbon reduction but also carbon removal, the carbon-sequestering ability of trees can remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, contributing to sustainable resource utilization.
The award recipients were chosen by a panel of scholars and experts, who evaluated the results of all Air Quality Purification Zones in 2022. There were three categories: Excellence Awards, Unique Contribution Awards, and Service Model Awards. The Excellence Award recognizes the outstanding achievements of adopters, the Unique Contribution Award is given to those who have adopted zones in ways that can serve as significant models for others, while the Service Model Award acknowledges adopters that have made continuous efforts to protect the environment for years. In addition, seven county and city governments were recognized for their active facilitation of the adoption program for Air Quality Purification Zones.
The program’s outcomes indicate the public's increasing awareness and participation in environmental protection. In the future, the EPA will align the program with Taiwan's 2050 Net-Zero Emission Pathway, combine urban greening with natural carbon sinks, and encourage businesses, communities, and schools to join the adoption program, together creating a sustainable environment with net-zero emissions.
Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, March 2023
- Ministry of Environment