A 664-hectare area of the sprawling Aogu Wetlands (鰲鼓溼地) in Chiayi County’s Dongshih Township (東石) will be designated as a wildlife conservation sanctuary, a Council of Agriculture official said.
A council advisory committee approved the proposal late last year and the council is expected to make a formal announcement soon designating Aogu as the country’s 18th wildlife reserve area, the official said.
The Aogu Wetlands, the largest of its kind in the country, has long been known as an ecological treasure of lagoons, sandbars, fish farms and beefwood forests.
The area attracts thousands of birds, including egrets, black drongos, Japanese whiteeyes, grey plovers, black-headed gulls, moorhens, northern shovelers and night egrets.
A council survey showed that the Aogu Wetlands, covering a total area of more than 1,500 hectares, is home to 10 mammal species, 18 fish species, 22 crustacean species, 17 amphibious species, 346 insect species and 221 bird species — or nearly half of the 450 bird species recorded in Taiwan.
The survey also showed that about 75 percent of the birds recorded in the Aogu Wetlands are migratory species, many of which are endangered or protected, such as black-faced spoonbills and Oriental white storks.
“We are hopeful that the designation of the wildlife reserve sanctuary will contribute to the protection of the natural habitat of many precious wildlife species and thus help upgrade Taiwan’s status in the world ecological conservation community,” the official said.
With the establishment of the sanctuary, the region will remain a major habitat on Taiwan’s west coast for East Asian migratory birds, the official said.
Meanwhile, the surrounding area of the wildlife reserve sanctuary will be developed into a forested multi-purpose park for education, pleasure and recreation.
The council’s Forestry Bureau has planted 677 hectares of trees, including paper bark trees, at the site of the planned multi-purpose park, which is scheduled to open at the end of 2011, the official said.