Jiading Wetlands Youth reflect on renewed activism

by Marcia McNally

Over the past month and a half, the issue of Jiading Wetlands has resurfaced. This time the catalyst has two parts: the recent approval of the second Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for Road 1-4 and the determination by Kaohsiung City Government that Jiading’s designation should remain that of “local significance”. See the Jiading campaign page for a detailed history and summary of current activity: https://saveinternational.org/saveinaction/jiading-wetlands/ .

Local, national, and international outcry has resulted. The on-the-ground response by Jiading supporters has been very active and creative -– street theatre, lobbying of wetlands scientists, television appearances, and a new “Say Hello Market” to reach out to local residents about the issue.

Central to this surge has been Jiading Wetlands Youth (JWY). I recently asked if the group if they would reflect on this experience and provide their thoughts to SAVE to post on our blog. Here is what they say.


Through the workshop [Activism Workshop in 2015], we learned the history of anti-Binnan and the action which SAVE took in Chi-Gu [Chiku] wetland. From these bases, we started to think about how deep-tourism/eco-cultural tourism will change the political and economic situation in Jiading. These precious experiences lighten our faith in achieving conservation goal as well as the future development of Jiading.

Dong-yo got interviewed by TV (2:12-2:38):
茄萣濕地鋪路 黑面琵鷺棲地告急 – 華視新聞網

It is absolutely not an ideal construction. Look at this beautiful place in our hometown. I couldn’t understand why people ask for constructions and factories on it.

Dong-Yo got interviewed after Wetland Reassessment public hearing:

“Some local people are still thinking in the old ways of developmentalism. We are all eager to see a better Jiading, but we forgot that the benefits that Jiading Wetland provided are the most precious and fundamental ones.”


Dr. Randy and Professor Marcia [Randy Hester and Marcia McNally, Workshop instructors and SAVE members],

Long time no see. I really miss you two and your lecture since Jiading Activism Workshop. It provided us with a good opportunity of empowerment. I felt that the most important lesson we learned is the clear direction for the future Jiading rather than the skill in operating protest.

The workshop facilitated us in two perspectives. First, it is fundamental that protestors provide an alternative development blueprint in the process since locals are eager to see the prosperity of their own town; that is why the report from SAVE is so influential in persuading the public. We recently started a new project which is named “siàn hái-hong tshī-á” in Taiwanese (“Say Hello Market” in English) according to the idea. Secondly, our works as organisers and activists require practices on courage and accumulation of experiences as well as skills. As Dr. Randy reminded us, we tried to work equally, creatively and irregularly in running JWY. And our actions proved that only when we are working creatively can we break the limitations in promoting issues to the public, improve our cohesion, and win public support. Specifically, some teenagers, college students studying elsewhere, and young locals with activist experience joined us through the events we held these three years.
最重要的是提出一個在反對運動中的新方向,居民冀望開路是因為開路對於地方發展提出一個希望,既然我們反對開路,就勢必得提出一個新的發展方向,這就是「搧海風市仔(siàn hái-hong tshī-á)」的核心關懷。第二個覺得重要的是組織者/行動者在從事這些運動的時候,平時的習慣積累和心態上的調整,例如Randy教授講的運動習慣,和每天都要從事一些反常規的事情(例如穿越馬路)。這些習慣在類似茄萣濕地的這種長久戰中相當有助益,能夠延長自己在運動中的壽命,不至於只是曇花一現、後繼無力。

On the other hand, the EIA (under local government and Environmental Protection Administration) and Wetland Reassessment (under Ministry of the Interior) is still in process. We have delivered the message that Road 1-4 is unnecessary and the idea of alternative development to the press and at the EIA public hearing. And it is exciting that the supporting rate has decreased from 75%(2014) to 58%(2016). This is encouraging that the public opinion is gradually shifting to our side. Therefore, we will emphasize the “development for the community” and “Plan B” to locals, considering wetland environment.

I am happy to see the recent situation, not only because we are practicing our faith for protecting wetland and community, but also the public opinion has been shifting. Last but not least, it is the cooperation of young locals making the changes for our hometown, the place which raised us. This is more like contributing rather than fighting.

Zhi-Yu got interviewed by Dr. Kuan of PTS News Network:

Zhi-Yu got interviewed by Taiwan Environmental Information Centre:

JWY publish a public letter to EIA committee members, explaining our consideration to wetland. It has been the long time that the policy makers did not even try to understand youth’s opinion. Therefore JWY organized young people in local area, announcing our claim and tried to make positive changes in local economics and environmental protection.


The workshop facilitated us with tool box and visions. It has been useful for past two years. Moreover, the workshop accidentally connect different people and organizations, forming a close network for later cooperation in all kinds of protest.

It was very crucial time in late August and early September. I was speaking in the press conference before the Wetland Reassessment Public Hearing and EIA Conference. The card I hold is with two lines of words: “Local Wetland or International Wetland? Reassessment before EIA.”

Video of press conference (link)
The similar report with full opinion (link)

William questioned that the road cost 1.5 billion NTD is ridiculous and it even cost 7.5 million NTD to run this road according to EIA report. Kaohsiung City has been raising debt heavily every year. It is worth to think twice for EIA members as well as voters. Also the road cutting wetland habitats would be a disaster for wetland ecology as well as eco-tourism. In the contrary, City Government and Ministry of Interior both holds policy tools of park planning and area planning for conservation. It is relatively wise to develop local economics that benefits both conservation and aquaculture fisheries by these policy tools.

Rare Chen

Along with other core members of SAVE’s Jiading network, Rare Chen (not her real name, see below) attended the 2016 International Wetland Convention (http://wetland-tw.tcd.gov.tw/WetLandWeb/wl2016/en/index.html). She distributed leaflets to scholars to introduce Jiading Wetland and appeared in many sessions to talk about Jiading Wetland issues. She says some scholars were really surprised that Jiading Wetland is a winter home for so many Black-faced Spoonbills and couldn’t believe that Kaohsiung City Government wants to build a road through it. This collective action made Jiading a hot topic during the convention.

Jiading Wetlands Youth now recommends that their members use a pseudonym when they take action where they might be exposed on media, for their safety. Some members and their families have met trouble in the Jiading area, especially those who run a business or have stores.

(added October 17 – Rare in her own words:)

It was my first time facing press media on September 12th. The focus of the press conference was a mother of one-year-old baby feeling sorry for her child for the situation of not likely to preserve the whole wetland. I was quite nervous at the time, and I just read through the prewritten content, rather than produce “tears” which press expected (a young lady heartily concerning her hometown and motherland). I was wondering whether this affected the media effects and public opinions.

Being a woman in all these activist events, there are some different roles among gender and social formations. For example, people usually think a woman is more approachable than a man, so the role of a young woman or a mother usually helps the promotion of the issue. Also, within the organisation, men usually dominate the leadership position with their bondage of gender roles or personal characteristics. So I intentionally play a flexible role to integrate opinions among organisations.

We obtained the chance to present at the International Wetland Convention (IWC) by friend organisation “Citizen of the Earth”. I was expected to promote the issue to scientists. Initially, I was asked to talk in an NGO-participation seminar and have no idea with approaching scholars in the convention. However I thought that was too passive, so I decided to approach people and raise questions in other seminars. Various scientists provided their own opinion on the case of Jiading after my explanations.

場外,拿著說帖向國外學者遊說,用非常簡略的英文單字和肢體語言說明茄萣濕地正發生什麼事情,這些學者都非常友善,他們不但很樂意給予我們時間和空間慢慢說明,也樂於了解議題,並且留了名片,讓我們將進一步的資訊寄給他們。(包含Ben LePage, James Perry, Joe S.Y. Lee, Machiel Lamers, 文賢繼, 胡正恆, Reiko Nakamura)
At the break time, I carried the poster with illustration and explained the issue of Jiading Wetland. These scholars are nice and patient. We have collected their name cards and sent them further information. (including Ben LePage, James Perry, Joe S.Y. Lee, Machiel Lamers, 文賢繼, 胡正恆, Reiko Nakamura)

People become knowledgeable and experienced as times go. However, it was interesting that scholars and NGOs are happier to see the involvement of young people. That made me conscious that being young is very precious that we can act vigorously and absorb knowledge quickly, and we have the advanced information skills as well as tools to help us with these actions. Just like what we are doing right now. I believe that we can make the positive change.

“Citizen of the Earth” and other friendly environmental organisations had shared their operation skills in issue promotion, as well as organising discussion and press conference. And this made me more confident in what we are doing. I thought that it was great to participate and contribute my efforts on what I sincerely concerned and approved with.

meeting legislator in Taipei

Press conference in front of Executive Yuan
國際保育團體為黑琵請命 三千五百人陳情茄萣濕地是國際級濕地記者會實錄20160912DSCI0002

Press conference in front of Executive Yuan
四千五百人陳情茄萣濕地是國際級濕地 | 地球公民基金會

One response to “Jiading Wetlands Youth reflect on renewed activism

  1. Very helpful, Marcia, to read these messages and to see how the youth are a part of saving the Jiading Wetlands and thus the black face spoonbills.  You and Randy are to be congratulated for not giving up on this project, and we hope there will be a positive outcome. Thank you for all your hard work!! Pat Schubert

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