Amid a spate of massive damage caused by floods, landslides, and mudflows resulting from frequent typhoons, experts are saying that Taiwan is paying a heavy price for its unwise land use policies.
\nNow, there are growing calls for comprehensive scientific research on the impact of global climate change on the local ecology, to provide sorely-needed data that can serve as a basis for future land planning. And experts say that the government needs to devise practical economic strategies to ensure that land use schemes, once designed, can actually be implemented.
\nSome attribute the increased frequency of natural disasters to an unstable geological structure loosened by the devastating 921 Earthquake, which claimed more than 2,400 lives in Taiwan in September, 1999. Others say that global climate change is the key factor causing extreme local weather. What is clear to all is that the country's past land use planning has left much to be desired.
\nLast week, the Cabinet's Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics said that, among 52 typhoons and tropical storms that hit Taiwan in the last decade, five have caused financial losses exceeding NT$5 billion in the agricultural sector. The worst was in late July 1996, when Typhoon Herb brought nearly 2,000mm of rain within days to central Taiwan, leading to 73 deaths and NT$14.78 billion in losses.
\nIn early July, floods were triggered by the passage of Tropical Storm Mindulle, which brought rainfalls exceeding 2,100mm in six days to certain places of the Central Mountain Range. Mindulle caused 41 deaths nationwide and NT$9 billion in losses in the agricultural sector.
\nYang Chung-hsin (
PHOTO: CHIU YU-TZU, TAIPEI TIMES
PHOTO: CHIU YU-TZU, TAIPEI TIMES
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