Tuesday, May 8, 2007

A Letter to the EPA

On 26 April 2007 the EPA subcommittee ruled that all work on the Hushan Dam Project must stop. While this is indeed a victory the ruling will be referred to the EPA plenary committee and with possible political pressure there, the ruling may well be overturned. As it is, the ruling of the subcommittee is nonbinding.

Help us tell the Taiwan Government before the next EPA sitting that Hushan Dam isn't needed by sending a Letter of Concern to the Taiwan Government.

Below is a copy of a letter sent to the EIA for the April 26, 2007 Article 18 Proceedings.

Re: Hushan Reservoir Construction, EIA Article 18 Proceedings, April 26, 2007

Dear Sirs,

I’m writing to urge the cancellation of the Hushan Reservoir project in Hushan Village, Yunlin County.

Taiwan is blessed to host one of the highest levels of biodiversity on the planet. Indeed, the total numbers of flora and fauna species found on Taiwan, with its relatively small land area, are astounding (Taiwan boasts over 46, 360 described species of flora and fauna.). Taiwan rivals continents in biodiversity.

Taiwan is also known as one of Asia’s Little Dragons. The story of Taiwan’s economic miracle is well known. What is often overlooked is that much of Taiwan’s fragile environment was heavily exploited during Taiwan’s development and there is very much a need for remaining natural areas to be protected and conserved, especially low altitude areas in Western Taiwan.

Taiwan, rising from tropical beaches to the highest mountains in East Asia (3952m, with over 200 peaks higher than 3000m), is in many ways a living laboratory housing samples of almost all of Asia’s ecosystems. It showcase’s the entire range of climates from tropical to subarctic. Nowhere else in Asia can one find all this in so small an area. Imagine the thousands of kilometers one would have to travel on mainland Asia to visit all these different climatic zones, yet in Taiwan they are all found on one island.

Taiwan’s name of Formosa, meaning “Beautiful Island” in Portuguese, aptly describes Taiwan. This name also serves to highlight Taiwan’s greatest treasure, its stunning natural beauty. What is very disturbing is that so often Taiwan does not choose to capitalize on its natural beauty and instead sacrifices it for short-term gain of an unsustainable nature that benefits but a select few instead of promoting Taiwan as a natural wonder and capitalizing on its ecotourism potential. The Hushan Reservoir project would be a good example of this.

The Hushan area is a low altitude area of great biological importance and diversity. It has been identified as an important bird area or IBA and is listed as one of Asia’s key sites for conservation in BirdLife International’s Important Bird Areas of Asia directory (Taiwan IBA: TW017). Three avian Red Data flagship species are resident in the area and one species is a breeding summer migrant. Namely, the resident Taiwan Partridge Arborophila crudigularis, Swinhoe’s Pheasant Lophura swinhoii, and Maroon Oriole Oriolus traillii ardens and the migratory Fairy Pitta Pitta nympha. As far as I’m aware the Hushan area is the last remaining lowland area where the partridge and pheasant can be found at very low altitude.

The area is home to countless bird and other species yet it seems that its ecotourism potential isn’t even considered and once again an amazing area will fall victim to development to help sustain highly polluting industry that cannot be beneficial to the Taiwanese people and the species that they share the area with. At this time when the dangers of global warming are taking centre stage in world affairs and has been described as the greatest threat to us in the history of the planet that Taiwan seems bent on increasing its greenhouse emissions and developing highly polluting unsustainable industry.

I would urge that the area be protected and preserved. That Taiwan considers their responsibility to the community of nations and that they do their bit in reducing their carbon footprint. Surely, it is better for all that the Hushan area is spared and protected and developed for ecotourism. Isn’t birding the world’s fastest growing hobby and Taiwan with all it has hasn’t even began to tap into birding tourism.

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