Sun, Nov 12, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Environmentalist sets off on tour of nation’s wetlands

CONFLICTING NEEDS:Taiwater said that giving legal protection to the Niaosong Wetlands would affect the supply of water to residents of Kaoshiung

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Kaohsiung Wild Bird Society general manager Lin Kun-hai (林昆海) yesterday set off on a 30-day bicycle trip around the nation to network with environmental groups and conduct a field survey of wetlands.

Setting out from Kaohsiung’s Niaosong Wetlands (鳥松溼地), Lin said he plans to visit about 58 wetlands along the nation’s coast on bicycle, but added that he would travel by train from Yilan County’s Dongao (東澳) to Hualien County’s Sincheng (新城) because of a tight schedule and a lack of wetlands on this part of the trip.

Asked about his motivation for the trip, he said that due to a number of controversies on the development of wetlands, he hopes to examine their conditions and problems firsthand.

After the Wetland Conservation Act (濕地保育法) went into effect on Feb. 2, 2015 — World Wetlands Day — the Ministry of the Interior began planning on managing 42 wetlands of domestic and international importance, as well as reassessing whether 41 wetlands of regional importance should be legally protected.

However, many landowners, especially state-run utilities, do not want their properties to be designated as wetlands, Lin said.

The Niaosong Wetlands, which cover about 3.8 hectares, are owned by Taiwan Water Corp (Taiwater) and are maintained by the society.

If the area were to be legally protected, Taiwater’s reservoir management would be restrained by the act and its water supply to Kaohsiung residents would be affected, the company said in September.

The Kaohsiung City Government that month said it supports the protection of wetlands.

It appears that communication between government agencies is ineffective, as the utility and other agencies have different interpretations of the act, Lin said.

Wetlands are fragmented and scattered around the nation, but ideally they should be connected to create an ecological strip that provides better conditions for migrant wildlife, he said.

Lin also plans to visit algal reefs in Datan Borough (大潭) in Taoyuan’s Guanyin District (觀音), which has become a source of contention due to CPC Corp, Taiwan’s plan to build a liquefied natural gas terminal there.

He said he would follow his trip, scheduled to end on Dec. 10, with a second one in spring next year, during which he plans to visit wetlands away from the coast and on outlying islands, adding that he hopes to create a comprehensive report.

Bicycle maker Pacific Cycles provided Lin with a bicycle, while he also received financial and equipment support from the Chinese Wild Bird Federation and friends, he said.

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