Fri, Jan 14, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Cabinet pushing bill to restrict land use in fragile areas

RESTRICTIVE MEASURE Aborigines have criticized the proposal, which would force the abandonment of several state-run farms

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The three state-run fruit and vegetable farms in mountainous areas will face demolition if the legislature approves a land conservation measure proposed by the Council for Economic Plan-ning and Development.

The Fushoushan Farm and Wuling Farm in Taichung County and Ching-ching Dairy Farm in Nantou County would become illegal if the special bill on land restoration and conservation (國土復育特別條例) is passed.

Minister without Portfolio Lin Sheng-feng (林盛豐) held a meeting yesterday to review the action guideline and plan for the bill.

Aborines say the proposed bill would jeopardize their livelihood because it aims to ban land development in mountainous areas.

The Cabinet yesterday listed the measure in its weekly agenda and hoped to approve it during its weekly meeting.

According to Peng Te-chen (彭德成), director of the Council of Aboriginal Affairs' Economy and Land Development Department, both the council and the Cabinet reached a consensus over the proposed measure yesterday except for some minor differences.

"What we've been trying to do here is to seek a win-win situation and sustainable development for both the Aboriginal people and land conservation," he said.

However, Liu Chiung-hsi (劉炯錫), a natural science professor at the National Taitung University said the government had failed to take Aboriginal cultures into consideration in drafting the bill.

"I'm glad that the government has finally realized that afforestation doesn't necessarily help land conservation and that it's important to let our mother earth rest for a while," he said.

"But it would amount to genocide if the government asked the Aborigines to relocate because they'll gradually integrate with the Han people once they leave their own land," he said.

Liu proposed using the land conservation fund to help Aboriginals restore and conserve their traditional territory.

The bill on land restoration and conservation was drafted in the wake of the flooding caused by Tropical Storm Mindulle and Typhoon Aere last year.

In addition to restricting land development in mountainous, coastal and flood-prone areas, the draft also recommends spending NT$100 billion over the next 10 years on land restoration projects.

According to the draft, mountainous areas would be classified into three conservation zones.

Category one areas are those higher than 1,500m, where farming and development would be banned. Farmlands would have to go fallow and existing building or facilities would have to be demolished within five to 10 years.

Category two would cover mountainous areas between 500m and 1,500m where new developments would be banned, but existing legal operators would be allowed to remain. Category three areas would include mountainous areas lower than 500m.

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