Environmentalists yesterday called for the preservation of Yebu Forest (野步森林) in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Linkou District (林口), saying an environmental learning center should be built there to educate the public about the forest.
Friends of Linkou’s Yebu Forest representative Chen Hsin-fu (陳信甫) said Yebu, which covers about five hectares, was a naturally evolved forest and home to pangolins, Japanese rhinoceros beetles, black-browed barbets and five types of frogs.
The Taipei City Government wants to build an athletes’ village for the 2017 Summer Universiade on the site.
“The Taipei City Government says it wants to make the athletes’ village a ‘zero-carbon community’ to demonstrate to the world that Taiwan is capable of producing ‘green architecture.’ It says it plans to create a man-made forest of about five hectares,” Chen said.
“And yet it plans to start all this by destroying the ecosystem first ... It doesn’t need to create a man-made forest of five acres. It just needs to keep the natural forest that is there now,” Chen said.
The Taipei City Government has said the site was chosen because it would be a 15 minute walk to the nearest airport rail station.
However, Chen said it would take athletes at least 30 minutes to reach the station, and then a ride of more than an hour to reach downtown Taipei.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said the then-Kaohsiung City Government used hotels to house the 2009 World Games athletes. Taipei City authorities should use hotels near Taipei for the athletes rather than building a village, she said.
Rey Chou (周瑞), director of the Sports Affairs Council’s international sports department, said an athletes’ village was needed to host the Summer Universiade, a first-tier international sports event, because the city government must ensure that athletes can reach the downtown area within an hour.
Chou said the land on which the Yebu Forest is located belongs to the government and was reserved for residential buildings.
It was only lent to the New Taipei City Government, he said.
“When the land was lent to the city, there was a clause saying that the land must be returned if the government planned a development project,” Chou said.
“We can negotiate with the local residents as to how we might preserve the green space,” he said.