Hehuan Mountain named Taiwan's first International Dark Sky Park

2019/08/02 19:34:10 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Hehuan Mountain has been designated as Taiwan's first international dark sky park / photo courtesy of Nantou County government

Hehuan Mountain has been designated as Taiwan's first international dark sky park / photo courtesy of Nantou County government

Taipei, Aug. 2 (CNA) Hehuan Mountain has been designated as Taiwan's first international dark sky park by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) because of its efforts to protect its stunning night-time environment.

International dark sky parks are spaces protected for natural conservation that implement good outdoor lighting and provide dark sky programs for visitors, according to the IDA.

The association said Hehuan Mountain in central Taiwan fits the bill because of the exceptional quality of its starry nights and well preserved nocturnal environment that benefits from its high altitude and low atmospheric disturbance.

A nonprofit group, the Taiwan Dark Sky Protection Alliance (台灣星空守護聯盟), started campaigning for the establishment of the Hehuan Mountain Dark Sky Park (HMDSP) in 2014.

The group's campaign eventually convinced the Nantou County government to pursue the idea and had Taroko National Park and the Forestry Bureau get involved to help create the necessary conditions for a dark sky park bid.

Nantou County and four other parties sent a formal proposal to the IDA in 2018, and it was approved Sunday by email from the organization.

According to the IDA, HMDSP will be the third international dark sky park in Asia, following Iriomote Ishigaki in Okinawa, Japan, and the Yeongyang Firefly Eco Park in South Korea.

The approval is just the beginning, said Lee Meng-chen (李孟珍), the head of Nantou County's Tourism Bureau, who expects to continue holding an annual Nantou Dark Sky Festival and establish it as one of the "Taiwan Tourism Events," a series of events promoted around Taiwan by the country's Tourism Bureau.

Lee said the process required for approval as an international dark sky park was challenging because IDA required the local government to be committed to reducing light pollution.

To that end, Nantou, Taroko National Park and the Forestry Bureau signed a pledge agreeing to protect the HMDSP, Lee said.

She said county authorities are now working with owners of inns and local residents outside the park to reduce light pollution to a minimum and ensure the sustainability of the park and its surrounding areas.

(By Hsiao Bo-yang and intern Hsieh Meng-jun)
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