Saturday, May 26, 2007

International Letters of Concern over the Hushan Dam Project and its impact on the Fairy Pitta and Humpback Dolphin

With the construction of the Hushan Reservoir taking place within an internationally identified Important Bird Area (Taiwan, Huben IBA: TW017, Important Bird Areas in Asia: Key Sites for Conservation. BirdLife International, 2004) which will destroy much of the very important breeding area of the legally protected and IUCN Red Listed Fairy Pitta Pitta nympha, and with this same dam going to reduce the flow of fresh water into the habitat of the unique and already struggling and fast declining Taiwan population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin Sousa chinensis, there has rightfully been much opposition to this project voiced internationally.

The first very large international conservation organization to voice their opposition to the Hushan Reservoir Project was BirdLife International in the form of a letter to President Chen Shui-bian from BirdLife International’s CEO Michael Rands. BirdLife is the largest International bird conservation organization and has a global membership of two and a half million members.

During the last two weeks many other international organizations have expressed their concern by sending letters to the Taiwan Government urging the canceling of the Hushan Reservoir Project. Letters have been received from Patricia A. Forkan, President of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and their international arm, Humane Society International (HSI), on behalf of their ten million members. The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS), an international cetacean conservation organisation with a membership of eighty thousand, have also voiced their concern. Letters of concern have been sent to the Taiwan Government from a number of international conservation organisations or from members of these organisations: Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), of Washington, D.C., USA; NABU,Germany; Rivers Watch East and Southeast Asia (RWESA); Korean Federation for Environmental Movement (KFEM); Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment, Philippines; Marine Connection, UK; Cetacea Defence, UK; Marine Life Rescue, UK; OceanCare, Germany; Dolphin Care, UK; Birds Korea, South Korea; Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation; and Proact International.

Many individual letters voicing opposition to the Hushan Dam Project have also been received. These letters of concern are from concerned individuals, academics, conservationists and ecotourism operators from countries including the USA, Canada, Peru, Guatemala, UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Greece, Czech Republic, Russia, Malta, Spain, Portugal, Bulgaria, Sweden, Norway, Poland, Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, UAE, Bahrain, South Africa, Hong Kong, Vietnam, India and Australia.

It is clear that many international organizations and individuals are opposed to the Hushan Dam Project and are very concerned about the destruction of Taiwan’s natural environment. When one considers that the sum total of membership of these organizations is around thirteen million members, this is really very significant and shows that the Hushan issue is of international interest.

Many letters also expressed concern over Taiwan’s current levels of CO2 emissions and the apparent disregard by the Taiwan government to act responsibly and implement programs to reduce emission levels instead of expanding heavy pollution generating industries. The continuation of the Hushan Reservoir Project can only serve to damage Taiwan’s standing in the international community.

No comments: