In a bid to streamline the tree protection efforts of central and local authorities, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiu Wen-yen (邱文彥) on Tuesday organized a forum aimed at gathering the opinions of environmental protection groups and local governments in preparation for a proposed amendment to the Forestry Act (森林法) that, if passed, would make the act the legal standard of local policy formulation.
National Taiwan University professor Kuo Cheng-meng (郭城孟) urged the legislature to pass the amendment, saying that the trees growing on low-altitude mountains surrounding cities are a precious natural resource.
Citing Taipei as an example, he said the city was special, as it is surrounded by mountains, which sets it apart from other major international cities. However, the trees growing on the mountains are not protected by the act, which only includes provisions for the protection of forests designated and overseen by the Forestry Bureau.
Tainan Community University researcher Wu Jen-pang (吳仁邦) said there is ambiguous distribution of responsibilities among agencies under the purview of the Greater Tainan Government.
For example, he said that trees planted at the city’s Confucius Temple are managed by the Cultural Affairs Bureau, while those planted at schools and in parks are maintained by the Bureau of Education and the Public Works Bureau respectively.
He added that improvement of the mechanism of ecological compensation must be included in the amendment, so that the regulations requiring developers to relocate trees affected by construction projects can be upheld.
Tree Party Chairman Pan Han-chiang (潘翰疆) said that trees in publis areas should only be relocated when they threaten people’s safety, as developers often use crude methods during relocation, endangering the survival of the trees.
He said the nation should establish an examination and ranking system to select qualified horticulturalists and issue licenses to improve the process of relocating trees.
Taiwan Tree Protection Alliance founder Angela Chang (張美惠) urged that a census system for trees be established, so that all public trees can be listed and tracked.
On the tree protection bylaws promulgated by local governments, she said that they should not solely protect trees that meet certain qualifications, such as those which reach a certain height or have trunks of at least a certain width, as the characteristics of trees vary from one species to another.
She also suggested that penalties be raised for unscrupulous companies that uproot trees illegally.
Chiu said he would forward the suggestions made during the forum to members of the legislature’s Economics Committee, who are responsible for reviewing the proposed amendment.
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