The planned construction of a road in Greater Kaohsiung’s Cieding wetland (茄萣溼地) would likely destroy a key habitat of the endangered black-faced spoonbill, a group of environmental organizations said yesterday, urging the local government to scrap the project.
With the Greater Kaohsiung Government’s Environmental Protection Bureau set to hold a meeting to discuss the project today, members from the groups gathered to urge the local government to protect the wetland’s ecology.
Frank Yang (楊俊朗), a researcher with Citizen of the Earth, Taiwan, said that the wetland is an important habitat for the critically endangered migratory birds as it is where they spend the winter in Taiwan.
Kaohsiung Wild Bird Society director Lin Kun-hai (林昆海) said the number of black-faced spoonbills that resided in the wetland this year represent about 5 percent of the species’ total population.
Cheng Ho-tai (鄭和泰), chairman of a humanities and ecology group in Cieding, said that the wetland has already been split in two by a road that runs through its entire length and that since it was built, there has been a rapid reduction in the number of wild birds observed in recent years.
Citing this, the groups said they were concerned that if another road is constructed, the numbers will drop further.
“We think that if the amount of black-faced spoonbills increases, it would make the area a tourist spot that could boost Cieding’s economic development, but if the number of spoonbills falls or they stop coming at all because of the planned road, then the wetland will certainly attract fewer people,” he said.
Wetlands Taiwan secretary-general Hsieh Yi-chen (謝宜臻) said the project was planned many years ago and since the population in the area has dropped over the past years, another road may not be a necessary addition to the area’s infrastructure.
Hsieh said his group believes that protecting the wetland so it can serve as an environmental education site may attract visitors to the area and help local development.
The groups said they plan to write to BirdLife International — a global alliance of organizations dedicated to bird conservation — and the Spoonbill Action Voluntary Echo International, an international volunteer group aimed at protecting the black-faced spoonbill, as well as issue calls to the public to write to the local government about saving the species.