Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The onslaught continues

A Huben stream hemmed in with walls of concrete after the valley walls had been bull-dosed.

The concrete onslaught in the Huben-Hushan Important Bird Area (IBA) continues. More streams in the Huben-Hushan IBA have been hemmed in with walls of concrete. The concreting of streams in the name of so-called anti-erosion work has a long history in modern-era Taiwan. Considerable sums of money are made available by the government for anti-erosion work. It is known that unscrupulous construction contractors and local residents and officials will often cooperate to hatch schemes to get streams "fixed" and profits from the projects are then split. If this is the case in Huben we can't say. However, the powers-that-be seem set on concreting in the local streams. Other construction in the area has been the widening and repair of the track behind the temple into what is now a road. Despite the arrival of the Fairy Pitta the use of herbicide around the construction area in known Fairy Pitta nesting areas is clearly visible.

We have also learned of an alleged case of the deliberate destruction of a known Fairy Pitta breeding area. Some areas of within the Huben-Hushan IBA are owned by investors from out of town. These land owners apparently bought land from the Forestry Bureau in the late 1980s - early 1990s when some of the area was sold off by the government. This was before Taiwan's first democratic elections in 1996 and many such sales dating from the period are known to have been made with a lack of transparency and supervision. It would appear that some landowners have wanted to use their land for gravel extraction but have been prevented from doing so because of the ban on gravel extraction within the area partly because of the presence of the Fairy Pitta and other protected wildlife and partly because of the risk of landslides resulting from gravel extraction.

Allegedly, one such landowner brought in earth moving equipment into a remote Huben valley which he owns and proceeded to destroy the valley by bull-dosing it and then asking the authorities to reclassify his land as no Fairy Pitta are present. It is also alleged that firecrackers were used repeatedly to scare away Fairy Pitta. We believe that the county Environmental Protection Administration is investigating.

The stream behind the dairy farm is amongst the latest batch of streams to be targeted.

The right bank of the stream behind the temple has now been hemmed in with concrete. The valley was originally bull-dosed in 2007. In 2009 the left bank was concreted and the right bank was done recently.

The river running through the village. Photo taken from the road outside the Fairy Pitta Cafe.

The widening of the road behind the temple.

Evidence of the use of herbicide during the construction.

Evidence of the use of herbicide during the construction.

The bull-dosed valley that is being investigated by the authorities.

The bull-dosed valley that is being investigated by the authorities.

The bull-dosed valley that is being investigated by the authorities.

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