Members of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Committee yesterday agreed to allow Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) to stop monitoring for pheasant-tailed jacana along the route of the high-speed rail, saying that the ensuing preservation project should be conducted by the Council of Agriculture and Greater Tainan Government.
“THSRC must continue its care and support for the preservation of pheasant-tailed jacanas as part of its corporate responsibility,” the committee ruled.
The monitoring project was one of the promises that the rail operator made to secure approval for rail construction from the EIA.
The EIA committee members yesterday focused on the monitoring efforts in Hulupi (葫蘆埤) and Deyuanpi (德元埤) in Greater Tainan last year, the final two monitoring spots along the high-speed rail route. The project was executed by the Taiwan Development Institute, which was entrusted by THSRC to carry out the task. Researchers found that while Hulupi had seen a slight decrease in the number of pheasant-tailed jacanas compared with 2010, the number in Deyuanpi had increased.
Though the number of jacanas spotted in the Tainan area dwindled from 1,038 in 2006 to 478 last year, the study showed that more jacanas appeared after the high-speed rail began operations than when it was under construction.
Commenting on the decline in Hulupi, the researchers said a large number of jacanas were found dead in December 2010 after consuming rice poisoned by chemicals. However, the number rebounded in May last year thanks to eco-parks along the railway established by THSRC as well as incentives used to encourage farmers to grow water caltrops, one of the foods that jacanas consume.
The researchers added that they found more jacanas returned to habitats along the high-speed rail route, proving that noise created by the high-speed rail had little effect.