The Forestry Bureau yesterday said it would decide whether to appoint the area where an algal reef is growing along the coast of Taoyuan County’s Guanyin Township (觀音) as a wildlife reserve before May this year.
At the Executive Yuan’s third ad hoc meeting for discussing conservation, inspired by the recent documentary Beyond Beauty: Taiwan From Above (看見台灣), Forestry Bureau director-general Lee Tao-sheng (李桃生) was asked to report about the coastal erosion and industrial pollution problems that are threatening the dying algal reef.
Lee said the bureau’s on-site inspection last week discovered that the pollution had been reduced — with the situation of the algal reef being covered by silt and sand improved, compared with the situation in May last year.
The bureau said an inspection and control project enforced by the Environmental Protection Administration and the local bureau has inspected the nearby companies 2,090 times, imposed punishments 493 times and ordered plant shutdowns 15 times.
As for Taiwan Power Co’s claim that it cannot demolish the diversion dike at its Tatan Power Plant (大潭電廠), which damages the algal reef, the bureau has asked the company to provide scientific evidence to prove that it cannot alter its diversion dike before the end of next month, and it will also evaluate alternative improvement measures, it said.
In addition, the local government is already planning to appoint the nearly 400-hectare area as a wildlife reserve to protect the ecology at the river mouth, ocean and nearby wetlands, the bureau said.
It added that it plans to hold meetings to discuss with the local government and environmental groups the details for proposing the wildlife reserve before April 15.
However, Dajyue River Culture Association member and long-term environmental activist Pan Chung-cheng (潘忠政) said that government agencies have been passing the buck to each other for many years.
Currently, it only plans to appoint the area a wildlife reserve, not a nature reserve, which would have stricter regulations, and it may become a joke to the world, he said.
In 2002, Liou Ching-Yu (劉靜榆), an associate researcher at the Endemic Species Research Institute who has done 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.
He added that marine animals have totally disappeared along two-thirds of Taoyuan County’s 27km-long coastline.