Thursday, May 31, 2007

Hushan Mammal List

Formosan Rock Macaque Macaca cyclopis VU
Formosan Small-toothed Ferret-Badger Melogale moschata subaurantiaca LC
Formosan Gem-faced Civet Paguma larvata taivana LC
Crab-eating Mongoose Herpestes urva LC
Formosan Hare Lepus sinensis formosus LC
Insular Mole Mogera insularis LC
Asian House Shrew Suncus murinus LC
Grey Shrew Crocidura attenuata LC
Lesser White-toothed Shrew Crocidura suaveolens LC
Japanese House Bat Pipistrellus abranus
Schreiber’s Long-fingered Bat Miniopterus schreibersii LC
Serotine Bat Eptesicus serotinus borekawai LC
Taiwanese Leaf-nosed Bat Hipposideros terasensis
Ryukyu Mouse Mus caroli LC
Lesser Rice-field Rat Rattus losea LC
Greater Bandicoot Rat Bandicota indica LC
Coxing’s White-bellied Rat Niviventer coxingi NT
Eurasian Harvest Mouse Micromys minutus NT
House Mouse Mus musculus LC?
Pallas’s Squirrel Callosciurus erythraeus LC
Indian Giant Flying Squirrel Petaurista philippensis LC

IUCN Listing given after scientific name

Also see:
Hushan Bird List
Hushan Frog List
Hushan Reptile List
Endemic Species & Subspecies of Hushan: Mammals, Reptiles & Amphibians
Hushan Fish List

Monday, May 28, 2007

Hushan Frog List

Spectacled Toad Bufo melanosticus
Central Formosan Toad Bufo bankorensis LC
Chinese Tree Frog Hyla chinesis
Ornate Rice Frog Microhyla ornate
Taiwan Rice Frog Microhyla heymonsi LC
Butler’s Rice Frog Microhyla butleri LC
Stejneger’s Paddy Frog Micryletta stejnegeri
Kuhli’s Wart Frog Rana kuhlii
Indian Rice Frog Rana limnocharis
Olive Frog Rana adenopleura LC
La Touche’s Frog Rana latouchii LC
Sauter’s Frog Rana sauteri
Guenther’s Amoy Frog Rana guentheri LC
Indian Bullfrog Rana rugulosa
Swinhoe’s Frog Rana swinhoana LC
Farmland Tree Frog Rhacophorus arvalis EN
Brown Tree Frog Buergeri robusta
Buerger’s Japanese Frog Buergeria japonica LC
Moltrecht’s Tree Frog Rhacophorus moltrechti LC
Meitien Tree Frog Chirixalus idiootocus
Eiffinger’s Tree Frog Chirixalus eiffingeri
White-lipped Tree Frog Polypedates megacephalus LC

IUCN Listing given after scientific name

Also see:
Hushan Bird List
Hushan Fish List
Hushan Mammal List
Hushan Frog List
Hushan Reptile List
Endemic Species & Subspecies of Hushan: Mammals, Reptiles & Amphibians

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.

Environmentalists give the EPA sixty days to stop Hushan

Taipei-May 24th

An alliance of environmental advocates demanded that the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) halt the Hushan Reservoir project within sixty days or face legal action.

After a press conference, the alliance of environmental advocates, including Lin San-chia, chair of Environmental Law Committee of the Taipei Bar Association, and Environmental Impact Assessment Committee member and director of Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association, Robin Winkler, marched to the offices of the EPA and presented the EPA's Fan Da-vid with a letter of demands giving the EPA 60 days to halt the Hushan Reservoir project or face legal action.

See yesterday's Taipei Times for more.

All photos courtesy of Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association.

Also see:
Sixty Days are up:-The EPA Responds to the Alliance's Legal Threats
NGOs set to take on the EPA

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Taisei Corporation gets the nod for Hushan

Japanese construction company, Taisei Corporation, has won the bid for construction of the main dam structure for the Hushan Reservoir project.

Patrols to save the Pitta?

The following reply has been received from the Council of Agriculture in reply to our letter of concern.

"Dear Sir/Madam:

Your concern about protection of Fairy Pitta (Pitta Nympha) is very
much appreciated. The developer was requested to include Fairy Pitta
conservation measures into the Environment Impact Assessment. There is 30% increase
of forest patrol personnel. This means an expansion of annual patrol mission
from 700 to 1,000 person/time to better protect the breeding sites of Fairy Pitta.

Thank you for caring about conservation issue in Taiwan.


Council of Agriculture"

One can't help wondering if they are missing the point? How is an increase in patrols going to help the pitta when they are facing this?

NGOs set to take on the EPA

With the EPA threatening legal action against Environmental Impact Assessment Committee member, Robin Winkler, over his alledged comments quoted in Tuesday's edition of the Chinese-language United Evening News, NGOs and Robin Winkler have hit back at the EPA. Here's the press release from this morning's press conference held in Taipei.

Press Release
Taipei, 24 May 2007

Robin Winkler, in his role as director of the Taiwan Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association, joined an alliance of several environmental ngos in filing a demand letter with Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Administration today, to be followed by a lawsuit if the EPA fails to take appropriate action within the sixty day time limit stipulated by the Environmental Impact Assessment Law.

The groups allege that the EPA, through its negligence and possibly with outright intent, has failed to adequately protect Taiwan’s environment, threatening the health, safety and viability of people throughout the island, future generations, and the well being of other species and their habitat. The specific case involves a reservoir in Yunlin County, central Taiwan that will be used primarily to supply water to the likes of the China Petroleum invested plant, Formosa Plastics Steel Plant and an assortment of industrial parks.

The documents filed with the EPA today specify instances where interpretations of laws and regulations by the EPA have been done without adequate study or consultation with interested parties, resulting in what the parties allege “has the characteristics and effect of intentionally benefiting developers (開發單位), government agencies, local and national politicians, and business groups (財團).”

“While there may be individuals within the EPA who could, if they chose, do something about the tragic state of Taiwan’s environment, the root of the problem goes beyond individuals and points to a system that is rotten to the core” said Pan Han-sheng, General Secretary of Taiwan’s Green Party in a statement supporting the action.

The groups cited Taiwan’s very poor showing in a 2005 survey by the World Economic Forum on the Environmental Sustainability Index. Out of 146 countries, Taiwan came in second – second in terms of being the least sustainable country. The group pointed out that Taiwan’s ranking of 145, with only North Korea achieving a lower score, is not at all surprising given the apparent “race to the bottom” by Taiwan’s industry and their competent government agencies in charge (目的事業主管機關).

When interviewed about the Hushan Reservoir case, Ho Zongsyun, of the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union, pointed that Taiwan ranks number one among developed countries as to increased CO2 emissions during recent years, noting that per capita emissions in Taiwan are already 3 times the world average. Also noted was the very low efficiency of Taiwan’s industries as a whole when its emissions are compared to industrial output and GDP.

In addition to illegal and anti-environmental interpretations of laws and regulations that have benefited business groups and government officials at the expense of Taiwan’s environment and sustainable society, the accusations set out violations of a number of other laws including the Cultural Resources Protection Act, the Environmental Impact Assessment Act, Civil Code, and Criminal Code.

According to representatives from environmental groups in Yunlin and Taijhong, the illegal construction is within or contiguous with an area that has been listed as an important bird area by BirdLife International, the largest international bird conservation organization in the world.

The area is one of the major breeding sites for the Fairy Pitta (Pitta nympha). This beautiful migratory songbird, which is legally protected under Taiwan law, is listed as a threatened species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List and is also listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), yet, these facts about the Fairy Pitta were overlooked either deliberately or negligently overlooked in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approved by the EPA in May 2000.

The reservoir will not only impact very negatively on the Fairy Pitta but also threatens to flood the habitat of a number of other threatened and protected bird, plant, amphibian and other species. The activities surrounding the construction and operation of the reservoir may wellalso deal a devastating blow to the survival of Taiwan’s unique and already fast declining Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis) population. Industrial development resulting in habitat loss and the reduction of the flow of fresh water into the Sousa dolphin’s habitat is so obvious that even the developers in a recent EIA application admitted that "loss of fresh water is one of the major sources of the disappearance of the Sousa" (8th Nahptha Cracker EIA report, section 7.2.3).

Finally, a high level government official who supports the coalition’s action but who asked to remain anonymous, of commented, “It is really ironic how our government can go around and tout the amazing beauty and diversity of the island and even make public events of hosting foreign ambassadors at birdwatching events, when all the time they are engaged in the mad and rapidly increasing devastation of Taiwan’s few remaining lowland natural areas under the guise of former Premier Su’s “Big Warmth, Big Investment” policy.

Also see:
Sixty Days are up:-The EPA Responds to the Alliance's Legal Threats
Environmentalists give the EPA sixty days to stop Hushan

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hearing Postponed

The EPA minister has resigned and stepped down and because of this the Hushan hearing has been postponed so we have a bit more time to keep the letters coming in.

This appeared in the Telegraph gallery UK .
Above the photo of the Spix's Macaw click "next" twice and you'll see the Hushan birds start to come up for the next four photos.

Some other news that also may be of interest.
We hear there is to be a press conference over this tomorrow morning.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Axe over Hushan

The EPA plenary committee hearing has been scheduled for Thursday, May 24th. Will the EPA plenary committee uphold the ruling by the EPA subcommittee and order all work on the Hushan Dam project to stop? Voice your concern by sending a letter of concern to the Taiwan Government.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Taiwan: Biodiversity vs Development

Taiwan, an island on the Pacific Rim, straddles the Tropic of Cancer. Taiwan is generally not regarded as one of the great birding destinations of the Oriental faunal region but it is indeed a birder’s paradise that is all too often overlooked.

Taiwan is better known as one of Asia’s little dragons. Taiwan’s economic miracle tends to be what people associate Taiwan with. People think of countless toys, gadgets and electronic wares all labeled, “Made in Taiwan.”

Taiwan’s economic growth came at a great cost to Taiwan’s fragile environment. Much of natural Taiwan disappeared in clouds of pollution and storms of development but there are still natural areas left and these areas desperately need protection.

Taiwan, which covers an area of 36,000 square kilometers, may be small (0.025 percent of the total land on earth) but it showcase’s the entire range of climates from tropical to subarctic. This gives rise to an amazingly high level of biodiversity that few places on earth can match.

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.

“Small but incredibly diverse and beautiful” aptly describes Taiwan’s natural environment. Taiwan boasts over 46, 360 described species of flora and fauna. Ten percent of the world’s marine species are found in the waters around Taiwan. 4,200 species of vascular plants grow in Taiwan which includes an amazing 700 species of ferns.

Taiwan has a very high level of endemism:-25 percent of Taiwan’s 4,200 species of vascular plants, 30 percent of 70 mammal species, 12 percent of 150 freshwater fish species, 60 percent of the 20,000 insect species which includes almost 400 butterfly species, 31 percent of amphibians, and 22 percent of reptiles. Of Taiwan’s approximately 520 recorded bird species 17 are endemic with 67 endemic subspecies.

Taiwan also occupies a prominent position on the East Asian Flyway. The fall raptor migration through Taiwan’s southern tip is amongst the world’s twenty largest, with figures as high as 50,000 raptors from 26 diurnal raptor species being recorded in a single day at the climax of the fall migration period.

Taiwan has a total of 53 IBAs or Important Bird Areas. For its size, Taiwan has a very high number of IBAs. Only 11 or 21% fall within totally protected areas. 17 IBAs or 32% fall within partially protected areas. That leaves 25 or 47% of Taiwan’s IBAs without any protection. Huben is one of the IBAs without any protection and much of this IBA’s important habitat is threatened by the construction of the Hushan Dam Project.

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.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Who Wrung the River Dry?

Taiwan National Coalition Against the Hushan Dam

The following is an excerpt from "Who wrung the river dry?", a book by Li Gen-jheng, director of the Ecological Education Center in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, about the geological, ecological, social and legal controversies surrounding The Hushan Dam Project.


In Taiwan, it is not only secret documents relating to state security that are hard to obtain; much information that should be freely available is not. This leads to serious differences between the information held by government, engineering consultants and academia.

Nevertheless, this book tries to offer objective information based on what evidence we do possess, for the purpose of establishing a basis for dialogue and public supervision.

I would like to express my thanks to Sam Lin (林聖崇Lin Sheng-chong), a veteran of Taiwan’s environmental movement, for inspiring the argument for comprehensive information on the September 1999 earthquake, the collapse of Tsao-ling Pond, and coastal subsidence, and also to Yunlin Wild Bird Society for information on frogs and birds such as the Fairy Pitta, as well as to Professor Yang Kuo-jhen of Providence University for his professional support in the subjects of plant ecology and geography.

For the last three years Miss Lin Dai-ching and I have devoted ourselves to compiling information and doing follow-up work on the issues of social equality and water resources, and we continue to write up our findings.

This book has been produced with limited human and material resources. We welcome any comments and criticism.


Jhushan and Douliou, set in Nantou and Yunlin Counties, were two relatively low-key towns, until the news broke that a reservoir was to be built nearby…

Hushan development project

A feasibility plan for the Hushan Dam was carried out in 1994-5. In May 2000, the EPA reviewed and approved the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), and in January 2001, the Executive Yuan gave the project the go-ahead, with a 7 year time limit for implementation, and a budget of NTD162 billion. The first phase of construction of the connecting road is already underway. But up to now, many people remain uninformed about the project, and in some cases have even been maliciously lied to.

Hushan is planned as an off-stream reservoir. Water from the Cingsheui River is diverted using a weir, located in Jhu-shan Town, Nantou County, and channeled over a distance of 6.9 km to the main dam, situated in the vicinity of You-cing Valley and Lunbei Pit, about 10 km south-east of Douliu City. The project area is about 422 hectares, 228 hectares of which are situated within protected Forestry Bureau plots 71-73 in the Alishan Area, and are precious areas of water conservation. These parts will be flooded if the dam is constructed.

The government says that the Hushan reservoir alone will be able to supply 248 thousand tons of water a day, and if used in parallel with the Jiji weir, it will supply 694 thousand tons of water a day.

In 2002, some residents of Douliu examined the reservoir project and found it to be riddled with problems. They initiated the protest movement and were soon joined by environmental groups, and also by residents of Jhu-shan protesting against the Tong-tou weir. Over the last three years, these groups have given countless testimonies before policy-makers showing the ridiculousness and inappropriateness of the project. But the government still obstinately refuses to face facts. So we at the Ecological Education Center decided to set out our reasons and evidence, item by item, and allow the public and the course of history to pass judgment.

But Taiwan is almost out of water – what are we protesting about?

If you find yourself asking such a question, please spend a little time reading this book. After reading, we sincerely hope you can join with us in linking hands in an effort to protect our homeland.

Part 1: Senseless! A reservoir that would collapse and leak as if it were made of sugar cubes.

Hushan reservoir is in the upper region of greater Douliu. Should it collapse, real estate in the Greater Douliu area will be destroyed in a matter of seconds, the whole place being swamped. The force with which it would wash down will be like a 150 ton truck traveling at 250 km/h.

Who can guarantee that there won’t be another Jiji earthquake?

Within 50 km of the Hushan dam site are the Dajian Mountain, Mei Mountain, Chukou, Chelongpu, Dajia and Mujicha active faults (Hsin-de Company, MOEA Water Resources Agency Water Planning Department). In the planned site of the Hushan dam, the control fault is Meishan, and the largest earthquake that could potentially occur would be of magnitude 7.1, which is the largest earthquake to have occurred near the dam. In the magnitude 7.3 Jiji earthquake of 21 September 1999, the Chelongpu fault moved again. According to the Central Geological Survey (MOEA), the closest part of the fault to the Hunan Dam (the southern section of the Hushan dam project) is only 5-6 km away (MOEA Water Resources Agency, Water Planning Department). Also, the southernmost point of this fault passes directly through the site of the Hushan Reservoir’s weir site (Tong-tou) in a north-easterly direction, meaning that fault movement would cause the Tong-tou Bridge downstream from the weir to completely collapse. The cross-border channel also passes through this fault area (MOEA Water Resources Bureau 1999).

In Addition, to the west side of the main dam it has been discovered that there is a highly active fault, Tongshu Lake Fault, situated below the reservoir, only 1.8 km away from the main dam (Water Planning Center 2002). It still remains to be researched whether, if this fault were to move a second time, the back thrust or branching faults it would produce would pass through the dam.

So we have the Hushan reservoir being squeezed from east and west by these two highly active faults, Chelongpu and Tongshuhu faults. However these two important faults were not mentioned at all in the EIA.

The great Jiji earthquake forced the abandonment of construction of the 166m high, 131 million cubic meter Rui-feng Reservoir. But the plan for the Hushan Dam, planned for construction in the same earthquake zone, is still being carried out according to the original proposal.

An unsafe reservoir

After the Jiji earthquake, research showed that the possible impact of the Dajian Mountain and Tongshu Lake faults are much greater than allowed for in the original Hushan dam plans.

* Dajian Mountain fault is seen as being the same fault as the Northern Chelongpu fault, length 87.5 km, and is an extremely new and active reverse fault. (Nov. 2000: Earthquake Research and EIAs for Hushan and Hunan reservoirs, Yunlin).
* Qiulu area in Douliu and the hills to its east are under stress in an ESE to WNW direction, and Dajian Mountain fault (Chelongpu fault or Chukou Fault), Tongshuhu fault, Jiuqiongkang fault and Mei Mountain fault are all faults caused by this structural stress in the earth. Among these, Dajian Mountain fault and Mei Mountain fault have both been active recently, therefore the future possibility of activity along Tongshu Lake fault, which also belongs to this stress system, is self-evident. (June 2002: Follow-up on Caoling Weir Saihu Fault and special research report on earthquake survey assessment).
* At present there are no signs that show that Tongshu Lake fault will move again, causing back thrust or branch faults passing through the dam site. But in order to establish the level of safety, further investigations and analysis should be carried out; the design of the Hushan dam and the detailed research of impact of Tongshu Lake fault should happen simultaneously, and renewed adjustments to the reservoir plan should be made after the completion of the new research (June 2002, Follow-up of Caoling weir Saihu Fault and special research report on earthquake survey assessment).
* In the 2000 EIA for the Hushan dam, it was calculated from past movement of the Mei Mountain fault (magnitude 7.1) that the maximum ground surface acceleration of Hushan Dam would be 0.3g, meaning that an earthquake would not affect the reservoir. However, if calculated taking the Chelongpu Fault (recorded magnitude 7.3) as the control fault, the maximum land surface acceleration is raised to 0.45g; or taking Tongshu Lake as the control fault, it would be an even higher 0.56g; both far exceeding the impact originally planned for (compiled from June 2002 Follow-up of Caoling Weir Saihu Fault and special research report on earthquake survey assessment).

Before the Chelongpu fault moved, causing the Jiji earthquake, who could have known that this was an active fault? And who could have predicted the disaster it caused? However, in their EIA, the developers convey the optimistic belief that modern engineering is all that is necessary to compete with unpredictable earthquakes, even suggesting that “If the dam should collapse, the flooded area includes Sianzihkeng, Sizihdi, SinSi, Meilin and Beizitou Farms, a total area of 325.87 hectares, while the losses in a disaster would be only NTD 41,770,500”. There was absolutely no calculation of the cost of human lives.

It was also claimed that, even if the dam were to break, the floodwater would leak in to the Beitou area, and follow the natural water route into Beigang River and into the sea, causing no effect to Douliu City, which is on higher land.

We merely ask, who can guarantee that when it collapses, the water will obediently channel into Beigang River?

More research is needed at this stage. The water resources authorities should confront these problems, rather than brushing them aside with the argument that “with current engineering technology we should be able to overcome it.”

Translated and edited by Christina MacFarquhar

Stop the Hushan Dam, Save the Fairy Pitta and Taiwan Indigene

By S.C. Wu and Ching-chun Chen
Board of Directors, Wild Bird Society of Yunlin, Taiwan

The Hushan Dam site is located in a geologically unstable and earthquake-prone area in central Taiwan. It is designed as part of an off-stream reservoir, which would store fresh water drawn via a 6.9 kilometers pipeline over the hills from the Chingshui River in neighboring Nantou County. The dam will flood 422 hectares of a wilderness area. Two groups of residents, the migrant Fairy Pitta and the resident Taiwan indigene, are at the mercy of proponents of the project, and can only be saved by a wise choice from the government and immediate action from the conservationists near and far against the dam project.

The Fairy Pitta (Pitta nympha) is a migratory bird that chooses to feed and breed in Taiwan every summer. Its population in Yunlin County was around 159 individuals in 2001, and 173 and 108 individuals in 2001 and 2002, counted by the Wild Bird Society of Yunlin County and the Endemic Species Research Institute of COA (Council of Agriculture of Taiwan) respectively. Sadly, with this relatively small population, the dam site has been found to be the most densely populated area of Fairy Pitta ever known in the world. Because of this rarity, the Fairy Pitta was designated as an endangered species under Taiwan’s Wildlife Protection Act, as well as listed as a vulnerable bird by Birdlife International and IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), and regulated under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). This piece of wonderland is a safe haven not only to the Fairy but also to other indigenous residents.

Endemic species and subspecies such as Maroon Oriole (Orilus traillii), Swinhoe’s Pheasant (Lophuras swinhoii), Farmland Treefrog (Rhacophorus arvalis) and Spotted Scops Owl (Otus spilocephalus) have also been photographed in this area, although they are rarely spotted. Crested Serpent Eagles (Spilornis cheela) circle high in the sky searching for food almost every day, which reveals the vastness of territory needed to maintain their trophic level high up in the food chain.

Formosan Rock Macaques (Macaca cyclopis) wander about in groups and are regarded as burglars by the farmers, but at least there is a place beyond the orchard fence, in the forest, to which they can retreat to rest for the night. One wonders just how this area came to sustain such a diversity of lives. Just take a walk into one of the two remaining wild woods within the dam site, and the secret book of Taiwan’s biodiversity is there for you read.

Taiwanese indigene should be protected rather than being erased from the surface of earth. This country has been pushing up by tectonic movements. Rocks on the numerous summits are worn down and break away, rolling down to the plains to form the layers of pebbles and sand known as the Pleistocene Toukoshan Formation. This formation is one the birthmarks of Taiwan. Another relates to the four ice ages that have occurred in the 2.5 million years that have passed since this land emerged from the sea. Between the advance and retreat of each ice age, various species have come here from north and south to dwell and flourish, sometimes leaving again and sometimes dying in Taiwan.

Some temperate species have managed to survive around the summits, while other, tropical species are found lower down the mountains; all in all, a great variety species have settled down along the profile of almost every mountain in Taiwan. The discovery of a patch of wild coniferous trees inside the dam site strongly supports this theory. Excavation of the dam site would diminish both of these birthmarks, leaving no trace for the Taiwanese people to identify with.
The principles of social justice should be upheld. The building of this dam will cost taxpayers billions of NT dollars, i.e. NT$20~30 (US$0.63~0.86) for every tonne of raw water supplied, as opposed to the NT$11 or less per tonne for which it will be sold to the companies of the Yunlin Offshore Industrial Park. In contrast, a desalination plant could produce fresh water for around NT$20 or less per tonne. The public subsidy of this environmentally destructive project and of the industries that generate pollution and devour energy and water is totally and absolutely against the principle of social justice.


Our plea is to stop the Hushan Dam project. This is essential to the preservation of the environment, and hence the natural identity, of Taiwan. No only should this be done for the sake of generations of humans to come, but also for the sake of the Fairy Pitta and other wildlife indigenous to Taiwan, with which we still share this habitat.

The Hushan Damnation of the Fairy Pitta

Taiwan National Coalition Against the Hushan Dam

It is a well-known fact that the area in Yunlin County in which the Hushan Dam is to be built is geologically unstable. Many nature lovers will also be aware of the importance of Yunlin’s forests to endangered bird species such as the Fairy Pitta Pitta nympha. The EPA, however, is choosing to turn a blind eye to these issues by giving its blessing to a construction project that is both scientifically and economically unjustified, and unnecessary for the present and future needs of the local area.

Among the protected birds in the area, the Fairy Pitta receives the greatest attention due to the fact that the disputed region is the world’s most densely populated Fairy Pitta habitat. The Hushan reservoir will cause the fragmentation of an area that hosts not only the Fairy Pitta, but also many other birds, reptiles and amphibians, and acts as an important biological corridor.
As destructive as it promises to be to Yunlin’s ecology, the dam itself will prove equally fragile when it fails to withstand earthquakes of the magnitude previously experienced in the area. The Chelongpu Fault, for instance, which in 1999 was the source of Earthquake 921, lies beneath the surface of the earth less than 6 km from the reservoir site, yet Hushan’s structural capacity fails to reach that required to absorb such an impact. Also, the hills surrounding the dam site are vulnerable to landslides, and large quantities of sediment lie upstream, meaning that the reservoir will be prone to muddying and choking, and therefore fall considerably short of its intended supply capacity. Research suggests that, even disregarding these geological factors, the capacity estimated by the Central Water Resources Bureau may exceed actual capacity by almost 50%.

The EPA, however, has very little to say about all of this. Although the EPA has carried out a survey of birds in the area, this took place at a time of year when no survey could possibly reflect the true population of Fairy Pitta. Birds are counted according to the number of calls heard, and the Fairy Pitta is known to call mostly during the mating season in May. The EPA, however, chose a different time of year, and therefore counted very few Fairy Pitta. For this reason, the EPA did not feel it necessary to mention the bird in any of its reports. Earthquake frequency and the softness of the earth around the site (due to earthquakes) have also received insufficient attention from the Agency, and no relevant analysis been required of the construction companies. Since it was in 2000 that the Agency first approved the project, this apathy flies in the face of Taiwanese environmental law, which states that, if construction has not started within three years of approval, an environmental discrepancy analysis must be submitted. (The only discrepancy analysis that has been produced relates to structural changes to the dam).

So what benefits does the project offer the people of Yunlin? Indeed, it may be anticipated that a new reservoir will ease the burden presently forced upon water supplies by local industry; more than half of water requirements in the county are those of Yunlin Offshore Industrial Park, which Hushan is intended to supply. Yet this ratio is in itself a sign of the imbalance of water rights in the area, and prompts the question, is such industrial development sustainable? The Park is already responsible for high levels of energy and water consumption, and for heavy pollution. Is this really the kind of development Yunlin wants to support? For it will ultimately be the people of Yunlin, and indeed the whole of Taiwan, who will pay for Hushan Reservoir; the water is to be so heavily subsidized by public funds that industries will pay only NT$11 of the estimated NT$21.3 per tonne supplied. This is hardly compensation for the loss of an irreplaceable ecological treasure.

The case against Hushan Reservoir is overwhelming, but the Fairy Pitta cannot defend itself if we fail to stand up to those who authorize the destruction of its habitat. The EPA cannot be allowed to exercise such total neglect of its duties by simply brushing aside the concerns of environmentalists, and pandering to the desires of businessmen. If this project goes ahead, it will make a travesty of our environmental law and our commitment to sustainability.