Wed, Aug 10, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Bird group bemoans development

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Animal advocates yesterday criticized the Kaohsiung City Government, saying it ignored the destruction of a prime bird habitat by an unauthorized construction on Fengshan Hill (鳳山丘陵) in Siaogang District (小港).

The Kaohsiung Wild Bird Society said the municipal government, or at least the Kaohsiung Urban Development Bureau, appears not to have known about the clearing of woodland that began months ago.

Representatives from the society and the city government on Monday inspected Camel Hill (駱駝山), a part of Fengshan Hill that is known as a prime bird habitat, and found that six to seven hectares of woodland stretching to Fengshan Reservoir (鳳山水庫) had been cleared.

“The woods were an important habitat for birds. The construction had an immediate effect on the local bird population and the environment. Birds such as light-vented bulbuls and Japanese white-eyes have disappeared from the area,” society executive officer Lin Kun-hai (林昆海) said.

The bureau said the plot of land, although privately owned, was set aside for urban projects and can only be developed for limited purposes, with the city’s approval.

The bureau said that it was unaware of the construction until Monday.

However, aerial images on Google Maps showed that the construction work began in March, and local residents filed reports with the police and the Kaohsiung Environmental Protection Bureau a few months ago, Lin said.

“The police and the Environmental Protection Bureau apparently knew about the situation, but they did not tell other government agencies, so the construction was able to continue. Something is clearly wrong with the city government’s channels of communication,” he said.

Lin said the society was informed of large-scale ground grading work in the area last week, adding that the work appears to be unlicensed, because no information board had been erected at the site.

Although the owner of the land has said he filed an application with the Kaohsiung Agriculture Bureau to turn the site into a recreational farm, the construction was not authorized and the owner would be fined the maximum of NT$300,000 and ordered to restore the site, the Urban Development Bureau said.

Camel Hill is the first stop for dozens of species of birds of prey that visit Taiwan in spring, and is home to protected species such as gray-faced buzzards, Chinese sparrowhawks and Japanese sparrowhawks, Lin said.

The hill and Changhua County’s Baguashan (八卦山) are the nation’s largest habitats for Chinese sparrowhawks and about 30,000 to 40,000 Chinese sparrowhawks and 5,000 to 6,000 gray-faced buzzards could be observed on Camel Hill every year, he said.

Crested goshawks, besras, peregrine falcons, common kestrels and crested honey buzzards are also commonly seen on Camel Hill, and the damage to the habitat is expected to affect those birds next year, he said.

Camel Hill is also beset by illegal waste dumping, as waste and construction debris has been found in the area, even though the city government knows the ecological importance of the area, since the Freeway No. 7 project was rerouted to avoid damaging bird habitats on Camel Hill, he said.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top