Legislators and environmental protection groups yesterday held a public hearing at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, urging the government to establish a nature reserve along the coastline of Taoyuan County’s Guanyin Township (觀音鄉) to protect the rare algal reefs in the area.
Liou Ching-Yu (劉靜榆), an associate researcher at the Endemic Species Research Institute who has been doing research on algal reefs for many years, said that the rare algal reefs are found along less than 50km of Taiwan’s coastline of 1,200km.
Unlike coral reefs actively formed by reef-building corals, the algal reefs are organically formed by calcium carbonates left by calcareous algae and they grow at the very slow pace of about 1cm a year, Liou said, adding that Guanyin had the largest geographical area of algal reefs in the nation.
The algal reefs there have been growing for more than 6,000 years, Liou said.
Marine animals have totally disappeared along two-thirds of Taoyuan County’s 27km-long coastline, because of severe pollution of the sea by industrial waste water and toxic industrial waste, sand erosion, physical damage from a pipeline construction project of state-owned CPC Corp and dikes built by Taipower’s Tatan Power Plant, Liou said.
Dajyue River Culture Association member Pan Chung-cheng (潘忠政) said the area had been listed for the establishment of a nature reserve in 2008, but three years have passed and the environment is still being threatened and damaged every day.
“If the natural environment in the area is ruined, then all of the natural coastline in Taoyuan will be gone,” he said.
Pan said 21 legislators from across political lines had raised and passed an impromptu motion in the legislature on April 10, urging the Council of Agriculture to supervise the Taoyuan County Government in designating the area as a nature reserve, or the council has to designate it itself.
Lai Jung-hsiao (賴榮孝), the Society of Wilderness president, and a member of the Executive Yuan’s Sustainable Development Committee, said the local government should learn from the experiences of the Pingtung County Government to first designate the area surrounding Alangyi Trail as a provisional nature reserve and then conduct research or gather the information needed to establish a permanent nature reserve.
Forest and Nature Conservation Section head Hu Shu-fen (胡淑芬) of the Taoyuan County Government’s Development Department said the problem was not that the government is against the designation, but rather that it lacked sufficient information to decide on the area of a nature reserve and its ability to manage it.
He added that the county government hoped the central government would take over the responsibility to establish the nature reserve.
Forestry Bureau conservation section head Kuan Li-hao (管立豪) said there is already a consensus to protect the algal reefs, so the main problem lies in how to establish the nature reserve.
Kuan said it would be better for the local government to designate the nature reserve, but “if the local government has difficulty in establishing the nature reserve, the council can coordinate with the local government to clarify whether it should be done by the central government or the local government. We can further negotiate about that.”