General Yantian is trapped in a solar energy development crisis

Richard believes that if Yantian is developed to install photovoltaic panels, these migratory birds will not approach or inhabit the areas under the photovoltaic panels. "Wetland fishing grounds with wave-absorptive blocks and shallow waters are being developed with more and more solar panels. Migratory birds have fewer and fewer areas to rest. If they cannot find enough food, they will starve to death during the flight."

The international endangered migratory birds may lose their habitat. The son-in-law of Ai-Taiwan appeals: Taiwan will regret destroying the ecological world.

Tainan General Yantian, an important ecological hot spot, is deeply in a solar energy crisis! The world's endangered Knoll's Sandpipers and Shoveler Sandpipers fly thousands of kilometers from Siberia to Taiwan every year. They are tired and hungry. Fortunately, Tainan's General Salt Flats provide plenty of food and clothing. In the coming spring, all of them will fly back to the north to breed with luxuriant feathers.

The precious general Yantian is now looked at by the solar industry. The foreign son-in-law Richard, who has been deeply involved in Taiwan's ecology, asks for orders for the migratory birds, hoping that the government take action to protect migratory birds. He likened that "General Yantian is like Migratory Bird World 101, which is an indicator of Taiwan's ecology." If you destroy it, you will regret it.

The developer, Weineng, admits that it has a development plan but argues that its solar facility has the goal of "environmental symbiosis and ecological balance". Huan Tuan stated that General Yantian is extremely ecologically sensitive and hopes that Weineng will withdraw its proposal.

This salt field is located under the General Interchange of Taiwan Route 61. It covers an area of ​​nearly two hundred hectares and is close to the famous scenic spots of Qingkuang and Mashagou. Yantian has been naturally regenerated into an artificial wetland due to long-term idleness, but now it is reported that the solar company wants to enter the market.

Richard Foster is the son-in-law of Taiwan. He has been in Taiwan for more than ten years and loves the wild ecology. He has become a bird watching guide, specially bringing European and American people to Taiwan to experience the beauty of Taiwan's ecology. Two years ago, he filmed Handbags which uncovered the wetland battle between solar development and migratory birds, and caused a stir in public opinion. This time he once again learned that important habitats are facing a development crisis. He is very frustrated by the repeated invasion of migratory bird areas by solar panels and is working to understand how to defend Taiwan's ecology.

Richard said emotionally: "Every year, migratory birds from Alaska and Siberia fly thousands of kilometers to Taiwan. When they first arrive, they are thin, hungry and dirty. The strange environment is very scary and easy to be frightened. Only when the feathers are luxuriant and smooth, will they be able to fly back to the north to continue the next breeding season."

Richard believes that if Yantian is developed to install photovoltaic panels, these migratory birds will not approach or inhabit the areas under the photovoltaic panels. "Wetland fishing grounds with wave-absorptive blocks and shallow waters are being developed with more and more solar panels. Migratory birds have fewer and fewer areas to rest. If they cannot find enough food, they will starve to death during the flight."

"There are internationally endangered Knott's Sandpipers and Shoveler Sandpipers. Their importance is irreplaceable. It is like the 101 building, a landmark of Taiwan's ecological image. It is impossible to imagine that Taiwan will destroy such an important place." Groups of eco-tourists come to Taiwan, many to General Yantian, just to take a look at Knoll's Sandpipers and Shoveler Sandpipers. I can't imagine people would be brought here to see solar panels in the future.

Also angry is Chen Bojing, the head of the Qiguding Mountain adjacent to the development site. He said that Dingshan historically used salt drying as its industry. After the transformation of Taiwan Salt, the salt fields were abandoned, which directly led to the decline of Dingshan. Nowadays, salt fields are frequently leased to the solar industry. It's a horrible sight: "The salt fields used to be the ancestors’ salt drying grounds. In the Japanese era, they were forcibly taken and the National Government never came to ask us what we think?"

Chen Lichang smiled bitterly and said, "solar energy is of course very profitable, but it is the industry that makes money for urbanites, and it has nothing to do with us. An aging country like ours, the way out is like Gaomei wetland, taking care of the ecology On holidays, people will come and walk to take care of the economy and the environment.” Dingshan is surrounded by a black-faced spoonbill hot spot, and there are "small wooden houses" for bird watching. Every holiday attracts many parents and children to Dingshan to chase black noodles and spoonbill.

Seeing that 200 hectares of reforested areas are mowed down by Zhongxing Electric in the south of Chigu Taisu, and there is already a Taipower solar project in the northeast corner of the village. With a bitter expression he said, "If the land is kept, there is hope for agriculture and fishery, and the industry may return. If the land is used to build solar, that will not happen. Young people want to come back to raise fish and can’t find the land. How can the agricultural and fishing villages be rejuvenated in the future?" Chen Li said repeatedly that it would take people to protest. 

"The Black-faced Spoonbill is Endangered (EN, Endangered). Black-faced Spoonbills have attracted attention and their numbers have risen to 4000 to 5000 every year. Knoll's Sandpipers and Shoveler Sandpipers are more endangered than Black Spoonbills, and their winter habitat is in General Yantian. If this important habitat is covered with solar panels, it will be very harmful to Taiwan's international image." Pan Zhiyuan, chairman of the Tainan Bird Society, explained the seriousness of the development of solar by General Yantian.

Pan Zhiyuan explained, "The global population of Knoll's snipes, also endangered (EN), is only 600 to 1,300, and they are rapidly decreasing. Shoveler snipes are an even more critically endangered (CR, Critically Endangered) bird species, with just 240 species estimated globally.These two species breed in Siberia in summer, and move south to Taiwan and coastal wetlands in Southeast Asia in winter. General Yantian is one of the few stable winter places.

"If it weren't for a development crisis, the Bird Club would actually be unwilling to expose the precious habitat, and would rather keep this wetland quiet and low-key to avoid interference by migratory birds." Pan Zhiyuan said disappointedly.

The reporter asked the developer, Weineng, to verify that the other party is indeed planning to develop solar energy in General Yantian. The company wrote back to explain, "At present, a professional team has been appointed to conduct long-term monitoring, and to discuss the plan with Professor Yicong Yicong from Kunshan University, and propose a response plan based on the environmental factors revealed by the ecological survey and inspection. Including the establishment of ecological reserve areas that will protect the ecological species and habitat functions of the area."

Wei Neng emphasized that the company has never neglected environmental symbiosis and ecological balance in the process of developing green energy. The company's global experience not only takes the concept of respecting local residents and ecological conservation, but also takes into account the three aspects of environment, society and economy. Wei Neng wants to help promote Taiwan’s green energy policy goals.

But Wei Neng's solar development in Chiayi's Budai Wetland caused ecological controversy. Later, he proposed conservation plans and designated protected areas to reach an agreement with ecological groups. Wei Neng said that a meeting has been planned in the Tainan General District in the near future to explain the project proposal. The company says it looks forward to a more in-depth exchange and gathering of opinion from all parties to reach a consensus.

Cai Huixun, director of the Earth Citizen Foundation, pointed out that in 2017, when an ecological hot zone for solar development occurred in the Budai salt field in Chiayi, after repeated communication with the private sector, the industry, and the government, the industry was willing to reduce the scope of the development. Other ideas including "setting up reserved areas," "regular "Monitoring," and "ecological compensation" were also proposed. At that time, she believed that Weineng Company respected the ecology and was willing to compromise.

"However, at that time, the people strongly suggested that solar development must avoid ecological hotspots. Later, the Council of Agriculture commissioned the Special Health Center to take stock of the ecological hotspots along the southwest coast. Based on that assessment, the general salt field was found to be "unsuitable for development, ecological conservation first". It should not be considered comparable to other development models." Cai Huixun said.

For Huan Tuan, the Budai solar dispute did not take stock of the ecological hot spots at that time. Considering that the manufacturers had already started their plans, they had to retreat and adopt a win-win approach for ecology, the industry, and communities. "However, the ecological sensitivity of the general salt field is more fragile. There are important conservation species, Knoll's Sandpiper and Shoveler Sandpiper." Cai Huixun said strongly, "If the industry insists on development, Huan Tuan will definitely not agree."

Cai Huixun explained, "According to the concept of ecological diversity compensation, manufacturers should adopt in order: (1) avoidance, (2) downsizing, (3) mitigating the impact, and finally (4) ecological compensation. Like General Yantian, developers should avoid the situation, instead of assuming that mitigation can correct for impacts at all sensitive land areas."

Unexpectedly, now that the ecological hot zone has been announced, Weineng also wants to use the bag model to handle the strong development of intentions, once again provoking the difficult situation of green energy development and environmental ecology.

What is confusing is that the Optoelectronics Corporation has known that the General Salt Field is an ecological hot zone, yet why it the area still be included as part of its development target? Huang Shuyan, an assistant researcher at the Special Health Center who is responsible for inventorying the ecology of waterbirds along Taiwan 61, said, "Unfortunately, unless it is a national wetland or a protected area, the definition of an ecological hot zone currently does not have any legal protection effect."

Huang Shuyan emphasized, "Although the company has proposed development plans for reserved areas and ecological compensation, the entire general salt field is an important habitat. It does not make sense for you to destroy half and retain half." He pointed out, "When encountering a truly sensitive ecological hot zone the priority should be to avoid development and preserve the highest ecological benefits, rather than using ecological compensation and assuming all reserved areas can be subject to undifferentiated development."

As an ecological expert who has been monitoring the Southwest Coastline for a long time, Huang Shuyan believes that the development methods proposed by the Optoelectronics Company cannot achieve the so-called "symbiosis and co-prosperity." The most ideal way of ecological conservation is to retain the status quo of General Yantian.

As early as May 2017, Taipower had applied for the development of General Yantian. At the Executive Yuan Renewable Energy Review Conference, the ecological group strongly advocated that the Energy Bureau prioritize the elimination of ecological hot spots. A consensus was developed and the development was withdrawn. Nowadays, Weineng has once again applied for the development of solar at the same location. The Environmental Group and the ecological community are very worried about whether the government can follow its original promise.

In this regard, Guo Kunzhu, Chief of Energy Section of the Tainan City Government Economic Development Bureau, said that he was informed that the developer has an idea to proceed with the relevant application process. However, the official position in principle is to hope that the manufacturer will avoid causing ecological disputes as much as possible. The final outcome will not be known until an application is submitted and parties can conduct a substantive review.

Receiving international eco-tourists in Taiwan, Richard knows that Taiwan’s attraction to Europeans and Americans is not night markets or boba milk tea. "For international travelers, the ecological environment is more important than sky lanterns and milk tea, because foreigners don’t have such a night market. Ecology is a universal common value that extends beyond language and culture.” As an outsider, he is still cautious and unwilling to criticize this beloved land easily.

"In Taiwan it takes just over two hours to travel from the mountains to the sea. It is the only place where you can observe migratory birds from the north and the south. The geographical complexity makes Taiwan very rich in ecology. For temperate Europeans, there are so many bird species that you can see at one time in Taiwan," Richard explained.

In addition to bird watching, Richard will also deliberately plan for many "surprises" during the tour, such as arranging a rest in Nankunyangdai Tianfu, allowing foreign friends to be amazed by Taiwan's colorful and diverse culture. He also tried his best to do national diplomacy, introducing Taiwan's booming NGO development. In his eyes, "The Taiwan Bird Society is developing very well, it is completely private and does not require government management. The Taiwan Bird Society's development maturity is second to none in Asia, including Japan."

On September 25, when the Birds Club of Taiwan was delisted by Birds International, Richard immediately responded on Twitter, criticizing the tragic behavior of the Birds International for expelling Taiwan due to Chinese political interference. The action attracted the attention of the British "Guardian" and "The Times".

After coming to Taiwan for more than a decade, when a reporter asked about his self-identity, he shook his head and did not want to answer. He just said, "Taiwanese are really happy and can live on this land, do you know?" He said, "Humans cannot be too selfish, and should leave a small place for other species to live."

From Northern Ireland, he has experienced civil wars and political turmoil caused by the Northern Ireland issue. He deeply understands the status of Taiwan and is willing to speak for Taiwan. But for him, "where he came from" is not the most important thing. What is more important is whether he cherishes this beautiful island and life.

Regarding the crisis of General Yantian, he solemnly said: "Those who manage this land must learn and understand the importance of ecological assets to Taiwan. If this area is developed, Taiwan will regret it one day." Now the land management rights have been transferred to the state-owned Property Administration. Bird Friends revealed privately that the Domestic Administration may not know the ecological value of these state-owned land.

Note: Judging the endangered (EN), critically endangered (CR) and other conservation levels, and the estimation of the quantity are based on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red Book. IUCN is currently the world's largest and most important international conservation alliance.

Translation assisted using Google Translate


OCT 14 2020
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