How It All Started

  Globalization has heated the competition among countries, regions, and cities. It is no exaggeration to describe the fierce competition in international urban networks as life-or-death battles. Of all indices measuring the degree of development, city identity and environmental quality are the most important two. 
  Time has changed, and so has global climate. Facing the threat over ecological environment, all countries have chosen a more active and positive approach toward “sustainable ecology” and “environmental justice”, and launched various environment campaigns. Local Agenda 21 is a United Nations (UN) programme for sustainable development. It encourages local participation and involvement in the sustainable development of environment and ecology. Local Agenda 21 is the most important response for all countries to undertake world environmental responsibilities. Since its inception, Local Agenda 21 has achieved significantly in improving environmental quality and developing new competitive indices for social economy, politics, humanity and cultures. What can we learn from the history of national development? How can Taiwan become more competitive in the future? First, we should stop focusing only on economic development and numerical data. Instead, more emphasis needs to be placed on quality, happiness and cultures, which are key to the quality and values of environment. 


The History of Landscape Improvement Policies 
Stage 1 (1997-2000)
  The Council for Economic Planning and Development of the Executive Yuan formulated the "Rural and Urban Landscape Improvement Program" in 1997. The program is an instructive set of principles that integrate resources for landscape improvement. Landscape improvement had been operated by different government agencies until the program was launched, which has integrated and concentrated all resources to maximize the effects of environment improvement. If successful, the program will set an example for other programs.
  The Construction and Planning Agency of the Ministry of the Interior completed the "Executive Plans for Rural and Urban Landscape Improvement" in September 1997, and the plans were later approved by the Executive Yuan. The executive plans define that landscapes to be improved include "artificial environments", "natural environments" and "cultural landscapes". The plans are executed to add a new level of "culture, greenery, and quality" to the environment. A long term executive plan and system will be established, and the program will start from practical solutions to environmental problems, and place emphasis on short-term make-over projects. The completed renovations will be ranked, rewarded and introduced to the public to raise awareness. Experts and scholars are invited to convene "Rural and Urban Landscape Improvement Consultation Service Group" to provide counselling and suggestions and to designate exemplary areas. Since 1998, Taiwan government has allocated 200 million NT dollars to subsidize local governments. Recipients may spend the fund on urban design, water parks, parks, greenery, street renewal projects, and coastal landscape improvement. The fund also covers the expense for organizing the national contest "The Most Charming City in Taiwan". The fund is a monetary foundation for subsequent landscape improvement programs.
  In 1999, The Council for Economic Planning and Development included "Rural and Urban Landscape Renewal Program" in the "Extension Domestic Demand Program", in which the Construction and Planning Agency were required to increase the budget subsidizing local governments on improving important landscapes and attraction in 1999 and 2000. The program was an important milestone for landscape improvement. The Agency subsidized over 700 improvement programs in the two years. The most significant achievement would be the successful exposure of the landscape renewal policy and promotion of relevant concepts. Landscape renewal became known as key to rural and urban development as well as living environment quality. Heads of local government started to shift their attention to landscape renewal too. 

Stage 2 (2001-2004)

  The Ministry of the Interior submitted "Pilot Program: Overall Planning for Rural and Urban Landscape Improvement in Taiwan" to the Executive Yuan, and the central government decided to realize the pilot plan by appropriating budgets from 2001 to 2004 continuously and setting up a framework and a set of regulations for the plan.
   Since 2003, the pilot plan has been divided into two minor programs, namely "Outlook  Renovation Plan for Cities and Towns" and "Community Landscape Construction Program".

A.Outlook Renovation Plan for Cities and Towns:
  This is a thematic program. In nature, the program is staged as a landscape design competition inviting participating teams to compete for “creativity” and “capabilities”. The program encourages all city and county governments to discover the potential of their local landscapes. The design should be aligned with new mainstream values and employ professional teams to expand participation. Traditional approach for construction should be replaced by new cultural and creative approaches that enhance quality. Sustainable environmental management program are proposed and positioned as important plans for landscape development.
  The subsidy should have the following features: it is guided by policies, it is granted to winners of competition. Subsidies may be granted to selected plans but attention is given to the entire program. Major principles include “use reduction”, “ecology-oriented”, “environment improvement”, “greenery”. These principles can lead local government to improve landscapes in a planned and systematic manner to effectively allocate resources.

B.Community Landscape Construction Program:
  Before landscape improvement policy is a campaign “Community Empowerment/Development”. In the process of mobilization, community proposals and executive mechanisms are built. The goal is to encourage residents to plan for their own communities. Communities are subsidized for hiring community planners, and are encouraged to hire construction workers and purchase construction material independently. The program of Community Landscape Construction was approved by the Executive Yuan on July 1, 2003, and the approval number is Tai-Nei 0920034435.


Stage 3 (2005-2008)
  In the future, national development focuses on creating economic development mechanisms that boost domestic demands. More emphasis is placed on knowledge-based economy, and the development is targeted at ecology and life values. In comparison, the old development logic was capital-intensive and energy consuming and the scale of development was larger. The new development is more delicate and diversified. Resources are distributed to local governments and development programs are integrated into local government policies. An aesthetic pattern that integrates recreation and creativity is important to maintain good living environment and ecological cycle. It is important to think how landscape improvement policy can present the ideas and deliver the quality at this stage. The short term policy design needs to upgrade the program into a mechanism that facilitates structural transition and re-development, instead of merely subsidizing individual projects. This policy should be based on the experiences of national development, to construct a more compete development logic.
  The most important task is to define and promote the argument and values of landscape improvement policies. The arguments need to be persuasive so that subsequent supportive measures can be implemented. The values include:1) landscape improvement must start from the change of “mindset”; 2) landscape improvement must include the upgrade of both hardware and software; 3) the ends and means are equally important; 4) landscape improvement is a part of social improvement. Based on the values, three directions are given:  1) landscape improvement values need to be promoted and fostered; 2) local governments need to pay attention to management and maintenance after landscape improvement; 3) research, development, innovation and experiments need to be encouraged.
  In short, the landscape renovation policy for this stage is basically an extension and advancement of the previous stages. The vision remains “adding a new level of local culture, greenery, and quality to the environment”. The slogan is “culture, greenery and quality”, and the motto “competition, innovation, participation and edification”. Every year, the systems and operations are reviewed and adapted to new development trends. When necessary, policy directions are modified, supportive measures are developed, revised and created. The modification includes the transitioned roles and missions of the central advisory group and landscape consultants, the creation of landscape counsellors, and the initiation of landscape renovation program outline. Step by step, landscape improvement program will design better living space that meets the requirements in the 21st century.

 Visitor: 2331  Update: 2009-04-28 Top | Print | Previous | Forward |