Fri, Nov 30, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Bill to strengthen wetlands protection drafted by Cabinet

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

The Cabinet yesterday drafted a bill to bring regulations for protecting the nation’s wetlands in line with the 1971 Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, an intergovernmental treaty which provides a framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources at an intranational and international level.

If the draft wetland act passes the legislature, the government will have statutory power to implement policies that promote wetland conservation and management, compared with the current non-legally-binding principles of such policies.

The draft act stipulated criteria for the designation of wetlands and would require government agencies to conduct surveys and ecological evaluations of wetlands on a regular basis.

If the draft act passes, government authorities would make all processes transparent and open to the public when designating an area as a protected wetland or revoking the classification. The government would also be required to obtain prior consent from indigenous people if its policies would in any way affect how people use the land.

The draft act also would place all human activities under regulations, prohibiting those that would pollute the wetlands or adversely affect the status of its ecosystem and resources. Violators of the rules would face a fine of between NT$300,000 (US$10,000) and NT$1.5 million.

People found engaging in deforestation, collecting biological species or introducing foreign species to a wetland could be fined between NT$60,000 and NT$300,000. If the behavior causes the death of an animal, the fine could be as high as NT$500,000.

Taiwan has designated 56,000 hectares of wetlands in 82 different locations, Deputy Minister of the Interior Lin Tzu-ling (林慈玲) said, adding that if the draft act is legislated, the ministry will review whether these areas meet the designation criteria.

Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) called for the legislature to enact the law as soon as possible, because the wetlands network that crisscrosses the nation is indispensable as it is commercial ly valuable, provides flood control, water purification, coastal stabilization, serves as a tourist attraction and provides ecological education.

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