The environmental impact assessment (EIA) general assembly concluded that a road construction plan, which has sparked protests over a perceived threat to endangered leopard cats in Miaoli County, should be returned to an EIA specialists’ meeting for further review.
About 400 people gathered outside the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) building in Taipei yesterday afternoon to protest against the plan.
The protesters included environmental activists, civic groups, academics and many students and netizens who responded to a call made by the Taiwan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Taiwan SPCA) through Facebook, asking the public to help save the leopard cats by blocking the road construction plan.
Photo: Wu Po-hsuan, Taipei Times
The planned 8.28km bypass road for Provincial Highway No. 13, stretching from Tongluo Township (銅鑼) to Sanyi Interchange of Freeway No. 1, first gained EIA approval in 2003, but after construction delays, the local government proposed an EIA review on amendments made to the plan.
Environmentalist Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲) said the planned road would cut through a very important habitat for the leopard cats.
Their population is estimated to be only between 400 and 600 in Taiwan, Pan said, adding that their remaining habitats in Miaoli County are being destroyed by several development projects.
Photo: Wang Min-wei, Taipei Times
Kurtis Pei (裴家騏), a professor at National Pingtung University of Science and Technology’s Institute of Wildlife Conservation, said records from about 100 years ago showed the leopard cats were found everywhere in the nation, but research in the past decade showed that they can only be found in the lower mountainous areas of Miaoli and Nantou counties.
“Being threatened by many development projects, the leopard cats are fleeing in all directions, but they might not be able to find suitable new homes,” he said. “I believe the many transportation specialists can come up with better alternative plans to solve traffic problems without destroying the leopard cats’ habitats.”
Shanyi resident Yeh Chi-hao (葉旗豪) said the local government could expand Provincial Highway No. 13 or build more parking lots to solve traffic congestion problems that only occur on weekends, instead of constructing a bypass.
Hundreds of Miaoli residents, led by Sanyi Township (三義鄉) Mayor Hsu Wen-ta (徐文達), arrived at the EPA building to voice their support for the local government’s plan.
Just before the meeting began, Miaoli County Commissioner Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻) also arrived, prompting protesters to shout slogans such as “Liu Cheng-hung, step down,” and “Leopard cats don’t only belong to Sanyi, but to all of Taiwan.”
During the meeting, Liu said the local government has already planned a 40-hectare area as ecological compensation for the endangered animal, which “should be very helpful to the ecology.”
Liu said the local government would allocate a budget for species conservation, but “we need local development, because Shanyi is a township of tourism.”
The Forestry Bureau said its three-year research showed Miaoli has the largest leopard cat population, so it is not in favor of the construction project, but if the road is necessary, then an elevated road would be better because it would prevent habitat fragmentation.
A committee member asked whether the local government’s plan to set up tunnels as ecological corridors for leopard cats to move from one area to the other would be effective, because no study has proved the method’s effectiveness.
Another committee member asked whether the bypass would solve congestion problems for vehicles traveling to the area, because the road would go around the township.
After more than three hours of discussion, the meeting concluded that because the area is an important habitat for the endangered species and there was not enough research to show that the local government’s compensation measures would be effective, more discussion would be needed before a decision could be made.
FORCED LABOR: Customs officials have seized a 11.8 tonne shipment of products made from human hair on suspicion they were produced by people facing human rights abuses Federal authorities in New York City on Wednesday seized a shipment of weaves and other beauty accessories suspected to be made out of human hair taken from people locked inside a Chinese internment camp. US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officials said that 11.8 tonnes of hair products worth an estimated US$800,000 were in the shipment. “The production of these goods constitutes a very serious human rights violation, and the detention order is intended to send a clear and direct message to all entities seeking to do business with the United States that illicit and inhumane practices will not be tolerated in
IRRESPONSIBLE ATTITUDES? Some experts say the NHI system does not do enough to educate the public, or pay doctors to talk to patients, about healthy lifestyles While the life expectancy of Taiwanese newborns in 2018 reached 80.69 years, the number of years people spent in poor health hit a record high at 8.41 years, Ministry of Health and Welfare statistics showed on Saturday. Healthy life expectancy is calculated by a person’s life expectancy minus the time they spend in ill health, such as the loss of mobility, disabilities and chronic disease, based on medical records and calculations about the years they live with disabilities. The number of years that Taiwanese spend in poor health is increasing slowly, but steadily, rising by 0.46 years, or five-and-a-half months, between 2012
UPTICK IN NUMBERS: The Taipei deputy mayor said the city has services to assist new immigrants, but has established an office specifically to help those from Hong Kong The Taiwan-Hong Kong Services and Exchanges Office today officially opens, where it is to provide humanitarian assistance to Hong Kongers, after Beijing yesterday passed a controversial national security law for the territory. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) expressed dismay over China’s passage of the law, saying that Beijing has broken its pledge to allow Hong Kong to maintain a high degree of autonomy for at least 50 years following its handover from the UK. “I feel extremely disappointed [about the law’s passage], which means China did not keep its promise to Hong Kong,” Tsai said in Taipei. Beijing’s “broken promise” also
‘BASELESS ACCUSATIONS’: Ker Chien-ming said it was not possible to drop Chen Chu’s nomination, while KMT lawmakers accused their DPP rivals of ‘homicidal behavior’ The Legislative Yuan is to vote on President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) nominations for the Control Yuan on July 17 after Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators regained access to the legislative chamber yesterday after it was occupied by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers for about 19 hours. The Legislative Yuan had been scheduled to meet yesterday morning to discuss its planned extraordinary session, but more than 20 KMT lawmakers on Sunday afternoon broke into the main chamber and occupied the legislative speaker’s podium to protest Tsai’s nomination of former Presidential Office secretary-general Chen Chu (陳菊) to be Control Yuan president. The KMT caucus