Jiading (Qieding) and Yong-An Wetlands

Home > SAVE in Action > Jiading Wetlands

A lot has been happening about the Jiading Wetland and the nearby Yong-An Wetland. The latest activities are at the bottom of this page.

The Situation

North of Kaohsiung City, Taiwan, the Jiading Wetland and nearby Yong-An Wetland provide a winter home to a substantial number of Black-faced Spoonbills, but these wetlands are in danger.  (Note that Kaohsiung may also be spelled “Gaoxiong”, and Jiading may also be spelled “Qieding”.)  A former salt-evaporation pond that has reverted to wetland, the Jiading Wetland was home to as many as 212 spoonbills in early 2014, or nearly 8% of the total population of the species in that year (2,726).  The local government has already built a 6-lane divided roadway through the wetland, roughly bisecting a large area of productive wildlife habitat, but Jiading still hosts a diverse assortment of birds and other wildlife in its array of seasonally inundated ponds and dry-land habitats. The Kaohsiung City Government is planning to build another road, designated Road 1-4, through the largest remaining fragment, possibly ruining the habitat on which the spoonbills and other wildlife depend.  SAVE International learned about this situation from a local citizens’ group that is also opposing Road 1-4, which they say is not vital to the local transportation system and would be a waste of money as well as an environmental liability.

More recently (2017), the Kaohsiung City Government has proposed to redraw the boundary of the Yong-An Wetland, removing protection from two-thirds of it and allowing construction of a new gas-fired power plant on the unprotected part.

Actions by SAVE and others

August 2013: SAVE wrote a letter to Mayor Chen of Kaohsiung City, urging her not to build Road 1-4 and to preserve the wetland habitat at Jiading. Mayor Chen has a strong record on environmental issues, so we hope that she will be consistent and recognize the problems inherent in Road 1-4.  Click here to read SAVE’s letter to Mayor Chen (link to PDF), in both English and Chinese.

early 2014: SAVE coordinated research at the University of California, Berkeley, to evaluate the official Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) prepared for Road 1-4, and to create an alternative regional plan for the Jiading Wetland, the derelict Xinda Harbor, and the nearby villages. As with many of SAVE’s other efforts in planning throughout the spoonbill’s flyway, the alternative plan for Jiading is intended to bring greater long-term economic and social benefits while preserving the area’s ecological resources. 

Click on the cover image below to read SAVE’s report and plans for Jiading, in both English and Chinese.

March 2014: Delegations from SAVE International visited Jiading on March 9 and 13 to tour the wetland, talk with local citizens, and hold press conferences in the birdwatching pavilion that overlooks the largest piece of the wetland.  On March 24, members of SAVE met with the Director of the Forestry Bureau, in Taipei, to discuss the situation at Jiading. Several local news outlets published articles about these visits and the press conferences.
Coverage of the March 9 visit: (All articles are in Chinese unless otherwise noted.   Click here for our English translations of these articles.)

Coverage of the March 13 visit:

Coverage of the March 24 meeting:

March 22-23, 2014: The Japan Black-faced Spoonbill (BFS) Network held an international symposium in Yatsushiro City, and participants raised the issue of Road 1-4 at Jiading. In May, the Japan BFS Network sent its own letter to Mayor Chen of Kaohsiung City, opposing the road for the sake of future generations of Kaohsiung citizens. Click here to read Japan BFS Network’s letter (PDF).
This letter also attracted coverage from the press:

May 24, 2014: A crowd of 600 people gathered to confront officials in the central government about its support for the proposed Road 1-4.
Coverage of this event:

June 18, 2014: The Kaohsiung City Environmental Protection Bureau organized a brief tour of the wetland and the surrounding area for a small subset of the EIA Committee, followed by a public hearing at its Jiading District Office. More than 200 people attended, including representatives of SAVE’s Executive Committee and members of other local citizen’s groups: Wetlands Taiwan, Kaohsiung Wild Bird Society, Jiading Ecology and Culture Association, and Youth Alliance of Saving the Jiading Wetland — click here for their Facebook page). The officials and journalists at this hearing received printed copies of the SAVE technical report and alternative plan.
Coverage of this event:

early July 2014:  SAVE worked diligently to ensure that Mayor Chen, every member of the City Council, and every member of the EIA Committee get a copy of SAVE’s report before the July 17th hearing deciding the fate of Road 1-4.

July 14, 2014: Councilman Chang called a public hearing on the proposed Jiading Road 1-4 in the Kaohsiung City Council Chambers. Members of SAVE’s Executive Committee and Advisory Committee, Dr. Hsiao-Wen Wang and Po-Hsiu Kuo from NCKU, presented SAVE’s Jiading technical report and alternative plans.  A number of experts were present. After listening to extensive testimony, Chang concluded that Road 1-4 should not be built and said he would send his conclusions to the EIA committee.  Click here to view SAVE’s presentation (PDF).

SAVE Taiwan made sure the Jiading report was in the hands of every committee member. The report compensates for the indefensible gap in the EIAs prepared for the road — they all make short shrift of the significance of the Jiading Wetland, which is a wetland of international importance using the criteria from the Ramsar Convention, given the number of BFS that now winter at the site. SAVE will be joined by other environmental NGOs on Thursday to take this battle to the finish line.

July 17, 2014:  The EIA for Road 1-4 through the Jiading Wetland in southwestern Taiwan was approved today, despite intense pressure from SAVE International and local environmental non-governmental organizations over the past few months. Jiading Wetland was recently identified as the winter habitat for over 200 Black-Faced Spoonbills (nearly 8% of the world population), which qualifies it for classification as a wetland of international importance based on the Ramsar Convention. Construction of Road 1-4 endangers this habitat and its vital BFS population.

July 31, 2014:  The Sustainability Council met today, but it was an invitation-only meeting, so SAVE and our Jiading partners were not able to attend. Our coalition, however, held a press conference before the Council meeting. Photos and descriptions of how it all came together are listed below:

January 17, 2015: The annual Black-faced Spoonbill Census took place today, as volunteer census-takers throughout the flyway counted the birds in their wintering grounds. The early-return numbers show even more spoonbills at Jiading and the nearby Yong-an Wetland than there were in 2014. Since Jiading and Yong-an continue to support a substantial fraction of the spoonbill population, these wetlands deserve strong protection under national and international law.

February 2, 2015: Today was World Wetland Day, and Taiwan’s new Wetland Conservation Act has just gone into effect. You can read the text of the Act and see the roster of Taiwan’s officially protected wetlands, here:

March 5, 2015: Kaohsiung City invited local NGOs to a meeting about the proposed “Jiading Wetland Conservation and Utilization Plan”. Kaohsiung awarded the contract to Dr. Yih-Tsong Ueng to write it.

April 2015: While visiting Jiading, Professors Randy Hester and Marcia McNally helped Jiading Wetlands Youth (JWY) to host a workshop. Also attending: Prof. Masato Dohi and his students (the founders of Team SPOON) from Tokyo Tech, Prof. Jen Shie, Prof. Ueng, photographer “Mr. Happy”, Kun-Hai Lin, Ho-Tai Zheng, and many other community members and activists. JWY led the local people in a “cleanup day”, since the wetland was almost totally dry and walkable.

June 23, 2015: Kaohsiung City approved the “Jiading Wetland Conservation and Utilization Plan”. Local NGOs were not invited to this meeting. They would later criticize the city for rushing to approve Road 1-4 and ignoring the concerns of the community.

August 2015: Kaohsiung City’s Public Works department began a “habitat restoration project” at site B3 in the northeastern part of the wetland, near the proposed location for Road 1-4. The project involved bulldozing dikes and making a channel around B3, which officials in the Maintenance Office claimed would store water and improve habitat, but He-Tai Cheng reported that it was disrupting the flow of water and actually destroying habitat where BFS roosted last year.

August 25, 2015: A journalist, Ms. Lee, reported the NGOs’ arguments against the destructive project at B3. Public Works would not stop the project.

September 8, 2015: He-Tai Cheng posted photos of the dikes at Jiading on Facebook.

September 9, 2015: He-Tai Cheng, Kun-Hai Lin, and Jen Shie (at the urging of Kent Lin) met with City Councilmember Chang and officials of the Maintenance Office. The officials agreed to remove the “west dike” (but only the west one?).

late 2015: Kaohsiung Wild Bird Society (KWBS), led by Kun-Hai Lin, sued to stop Road 1-4.

January 15-17, 2016: The 2016 Black-faced Spoonbill Census took place.

January 16, 2016: Tsai Ying-wen, of the Democratic Progressive Party, is elected President of Taiwan. We hope that her administration will bring new attention to environmental protection, such as enforcement of the Wetland Conservation Act at Jiading and other sites important to the Black-faced Spoonbill.

January 19, 2016: The Kaohsiung High Administrative Court ruled in favor of KWBS, saying that the “administrative sanction [the EIA for Road 1-4] requires revocation.” Jen Shie attended the judgement and reported the good news to SAVE. Kaohsiung City is expected to appeal.

News coverage of the ruling:

  • Taiwan Environmental Information Center (TEIA), Jan 20: article (in Chinese)
  • Taipei Times, Jan 22: “Bird-lovers urge Kaohsiung to heed ruling on roadway” The article includes this quote from Kun-Hai Lin: “The court’s overruling of the case was a clear message to the city government, warning it against having a predetermined mindset and disrespecting the review process. We call on the city government to accept the verdict and not to appeal the case to protect the environment.”

winter 2016: Birdwatchers and locals saw fewer spoonbills at Jiading Wetland, but more at another nearby site.

early March 2016: As we expected, Kaohsiung City filed an appeal to the ruling on the lawsuit over the EIA for Road 1-4 at Jiading. (See below for the outcome on September 22, 2016.)

April 2016: Kaohsiung City government filed a new EIA for Road 1-4. The process will not be open to stakeholders. It is not clear to SAVE whether this is legal. Our local allies (especially Yi-Jen Shie and Kun-Hai Lin) are flabbergasted. One bright spot is that the attorney who filed the lawsuit against the City (and won) has been named the new Vice-Deputy of the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA). Perhaps he can bring national pressure to stop the road.

later in 2016: Kaohsiung City ruled that Jiading Wetland should remain classified as a “wetland of local importance”.

late August – early September, 2016: SAVE sent a letter to Premier Lin and other officials in the Executive Yuan, urging redesignation of Jiading Wetland as a wetland of “national importance”. Team SPOON also sent letters, as did Professor John Radke from the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at the University of California, Berkeley. Chinese translations of these letters were available at the press conference on August 29, as described below. Read the letters here:

  • SAVE International’s letter (August 22, 2016): English (PDF) Thanks to Po-Hsiu Kuo and Yi-Jen Shie for translating this letter.
  • SPOON’s letter (August 27, 2016): English (PDF) or Chinese (PDF) Thanks to Jiading Wetland Youth for translating this letter.
  • Professor John Radke’s letter (August 27, 2016): Chinese (PDF) Thanks to Jun-Yao Yang for translating this letter.

And these were the responses from various government agencies:

August 29, 2016: Press conference. Representatives of different NGOs took turns stating their arguments about Jiading Wetlands, the designation as only “local importance”, Road 1-4, and the EIA meeting scheduled for the following day. Kun-Hai Lin read a Chinese translation of the letter that SAVE had sent to Premier Lin. Read the press release and news coverage here (all are in Chinese):

August 30, 2016: The central government’s Construction and Planning Agency (CPA) hosted a contentious hearing about the EIA for Road 1-4. Roughly 300 citizens attended. Most were older locals mobilized by the pro-road special interest group to repeat their arguments against protecting the wetland, but several NGOs sent their own representatives. When Kent Lin (of the Kaohsiung Wild Bird Society) and He-Tai spoke, many local people shouted over them to stop talking. Although He-Tai tried to continue, an official from CPA urged him not to fight with the locals. The hearing became so unruly that the official from CPA ended it early, and told the attendees to submit their opinions to CPA in written form. Read this news coverage of the hearing:

August 31, 2016: The EIA Committee for Road 1-4 approved it by a vote of 10 to 5. Although SAVE and our allies are disappointed, this is not the final word. The NGO community will continue to fight against the new EIA and to get Jiading Wetland reclassified to a wetland of national importance.

Some thoughts about the approval:

  • According to a lawyer whom SAVE has consulted, the EIA Committee violated the Environmental Impact Evaluation Act. Some Committee members were also officials in the Kaohsiung City Government (KCG) but did not recuse themselves. Their votes were among the 10 approving the road, while 5 votes from experts opposed the road. The conflict of interest from the KCG officials may be grounds for a new lawsuit to overturn the approval of the EIA.
  • When the EIA was “approved” in 2014, the committee attached a number of conditions favorable to protecting the wetland. KCG should announce the new official EIA statement in a week, and we will check whether this new approval includes any conditions.
  • Kaohsiung City will have to build the road without any funding from the central government.
  • The reassessment draft by Kaohsiung City of Jiading’s wetland status has not been approved yet. The central government’s Construction and Planning Agency (CPA) needs to approve the proposed map of the wetland’s boundary. The draft map would exclude the corridor of Road 1-4 (bad) but expand the wetland south of Road 1-1 (good).
  • The 2016 International Wetland Convention will take place in Taiwan in two weeks, and this could be a good opportunity for SAVE and our allies to explain our concerns about the implementation of the Wetlands Act and announce an action plan. We expect representatives of several national-level agencies to be there, including CPA, WRA (Water Resources), EPA (Environmental Protection), COA (Council of Agriculture), and Forestry Bureau (in charge of wildlife protection).

September 11, 2016: Maji, a famous illustrator, created and posted this drawing, to raise awareness of the conflict at Jiading, including the press conference in front of the Executive Yuan that would take place on September 12. The caption says “Get out! Get out!” It quickly received tens of thousands of Likes.

September 12, 2016: Second press conference. The speakers included members of local groups and residents of Jiading, as well as Dr. Wen-ling Tu, a professor at National Chengchi University and a member of SAVE’s Advisory Committee. A representative of the Executive Yuan attended, Ms. Chen (陳盈蓉), and received these items: SAVE’s letter (given by He-Tai), SAVE’s 2014 report abut Jiading (given by Citizen of the Earth), and the document of 4,500 signed names and people’s opinions (given by Jiading Wetland Youth). Ms. Chen replied, “We have heard your voice. Thanks for your concern for environmental protection. We will forward your opinion to the Ministry of Interior [about the wetland designation issue] and the Environmental Agency [about the EIA for Road 1-4].”

The event generated some news coverage — see the links below. They are all in Chinese. Only one was TV news (Public TV News), but Jiading Wetland has become national-level news. Other NGOs will keep fighting.

September 13-14, 2016: 2016 International Wetland Convention in Taiwan. Kun-Hai, He-Tai, Wei-Long Huang (Citizen of the Earth), and “Rare” Chen (Jiading Wetlands Youth) attended the convention and distributed materials about Jiading, including leaflets and Black-faced Spoonbill hats. Many of the scientists there didn’t know about Jiading, but quickly stated their support for the designation of an “internationally important wetland” because of the presence of Black-faced Spoonbills. The leaflet included a QR code that links to this page of SAVE’s website. Rare Chen and Huang also appeared in several sessions to talk about Jiading and raise questions. Their action made Jiading a hot issue at the convention. Link to the convention website (English).

Meanwhile, Dr. Hsiao-Wen Wang, a member of SAVE’s Advisory Committee, has been talking with SWS (Society of Wetland Scientists), Taiwan Wetland Society, and the Construction and Planning Agency to include language relevant to Jiading into the new Taipei Declaration of International Wetlands. Article 10 would apply the standards of the Ramsar Convention to wetlands in Taiwan that host 1% or more of a species, and prohibit construction that would disrupt or fragment the wetland. (Taiwan’s political status prevents it from signing onto the Ramsar Convention.)

September 22, 2016: The Supreme Administrative Court (in Taipei) has upheld the ruling that the High Administrative Court (in Kaohsiung) made against the Kaohsiung City Government in January, so the decision to approve the EIA for Road 1-4 must be revoked. (For the history of this case, see the “late 2015”, January 19 2016, and “early March” 2016 updates, above.)

September 24, 2016: Zhi-Yu Li of Jiading Wetlands Youth was interviewed on Public TV News Network to talk about Jiading and the Road 1-4 EIA. The interview aired on the night of Sep 25.

September 25, 2016: Protest-parade outside President Tsai’s office in Taipei. There have been many conflicts between residents and the governments of Kaohsiung City and other cities in recent months, over violations of human rights (housing and land property) and environmental threats. Some NGOs organized a campaign to speak out for their rights and held a parade in front of Office of the President in Taipei on September 25. Participants from the Jiading campaign included Jiading residents He-Tai, Mr. Tai and his son, Ms. Wu and her children, Mr. Liu from Meinung’s People’s Association, Kaohsiung Wild Bird Society, Citizen of the Earth, and 3 members of Jiading Wetlands Youth.

October 5, 2016: The Society of Wetland Scientists, an international association with more than 3,000 members from 58 countries, sent its own letter to Kaohsiung Mayor Chen, urging her to protect Jiading Wetland and abandon the plan to build Road 1-4 through it. Click here to read SWS’s letter to Mayor Chen (link to PDF), in English.

October 8, 2016: SAVE wrote to the new Wetlands Review Task Force, urging that they upgrade Jiading Wetland as having either National or International Importance. This task force, convened by the Ministry of Interior, will be considering the Jiading question later this month. The 17-member task force includes 8 representatives from central government agencies, 8 scientists/academics/experts, and 1 representative of an NGO. SAVE sent a letter to all 17 members, and provided our 2014 Jiading report to each — by direct PDF attachment and/or a download link. Click here to read SAVE’s letter to the Wetlands Review Task Force (link to PDF), in English and Chinese. The task force’s first meeting is scheduled for October 24.

October 8, 2016: Jiading Wetland Youth (JWY) held the first of their planned biweekly “Say Hello Market” events. Members of JWY, Citizen of the Earth (CET), and SAVE gave a tour to Dr. James (Jim) Perry of the Society of Wetland Scientists.

Click here to go to Walen Huang’s Flickr album showing the market.

October 12, 2016: Our allies met with four members of the Sustainable Development Association (SDA), a part of Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan (立法院永續發展促進會) .

The group of allies included members of Jiading Wetland Youth (Rare Chen), Jiading Ecological & Cultural Association (He-Tai, Cheng), Kaohsiung Wild Bird Society (Kun-Hai Lin), Citizen of the Earth (Wei-Long Huang & the CEO), Meinung People’s Association (Mr. Arthur Liu).

The SDA is a self-advocacy organization established by legislators within the Legislative Yuan, and now having 48 members who are Legislators.

The four members of SDA in the photo below have signed the document to block the funding for Road 1-4:
(click the names to bring up their pages on the Legislative Yuan website)

They agree that there is no need to build Road 1-4 and that the construction would destroy the ecology and environment, threatening the endangered species of Black-faced Spoonbill and Taiwan’s international conservation reputation.

Our allies will keep inviting other Legislators to sign on.

November 22, 2016: Dr. Jane Goodall, renowned scientist and conservationist, gave a huge boost to the campaign against Road 1-4. Rare Chen (Jiading Wetlands Youth) spoke with Dr. Goodall at a lunchtime talk, briefing her about Jiading and giving her SAVE’s Technical Report, JWY’s English leaflet, the letter from the SWS to Mayor Chen, and the Jiading Wetland Map. When Dr. Goodall spoke with President Tsai later in the day, she mentioned wetlands and spoonbill habitat twice.

March 29, 2017: A problem for the Yong-An Wetland, a few kilometers south of Jiading. The Kaohsiung City Government (KCG) has proposed reassessing the boundaries of the wetland, in a draft plan to the central Construction and Planning Agency (CPA) in March 2017. CPA hosted a public hearing on March 29. The company Tai Power, which owns the land that the Yong-An Wetland occupies, is planning to build a new power-plant on the northern part of the wetland. The Tai Power plan seems to have the support of some local villagers, but opposition from the Kaohsiung Wild Bird Society, Jiading Wetland Youth, and others.

Yong-An Wetland and Jiading Wetland work as two parts of a whole, as birds often fly from one to the other across Xinda Harbor. There have been more and more Black-faced Spoonbills wintering at Yong-An Wetland (as with Jiading Wetland) in recent years, making it another critical habitat for these birds.

June 28, 2017: Kaohsiung City Government (KCG) continues to encourage or even commit undemocratic behavior against the residents of Jiading and Yong-An who support their wetlands. At a meeting about Road 1-4 on June 28, 2017, KCG prohibited individual video recordings, and provided official recordings that hid the faces and names of anti-wetland (pro-government) speakers. Jiading Wetland Youth obtained those videos and uploaded them to websites with subtitles and counterarguments, and discussion of the meeting went viral. In one member’s words, “Because the meeting was full of injustice and the city councilors’ speech was packed with unfounded arguments, people are angry with what happened at the meeting and the development of Route 1-4 as well.” Most distressing to us, some members of KCG have let anti-wetland speakers shout at and threaten their opponents, and one city councilmember even named the family members and workplace of a pro-wetland activist. Many members of Jiading Wetland Youth have been appearing in public under aliases, because they are afraid of threats against them and their families.

July 21, 2017: A harsh blow to the Yong-An Wetland. In a closed meeting, the Wetland Review Task Force approved the plan by the Kaohsiung City Government (KCG) to remove protection from Yong-An Wetland by redrawing the boundary at only 1/3 of its previous size (from 133 ha to 41.25 ha). SAVE and our local allies opposed this move, since there is no legal or ecological reason to remove protection, but Tai Power owns this land and intends to build a new gas-fired power plant on the now-unprotected 2/3 of the wetland. The best available conservation biology shows that the new power plant would fragment the habitat and harm the populations of Black-faced Spoonbills and other species that live in the wetland.

September 18, 2017: SAVE sent a letter to three government entities — the Public Functionary Disciplinary Sanction Commission, Kaohsiung High Administrative Court, and Taiwan Kaohsiung District Court — calling for an investigation into members of the Kaohsiung City Government for unethical behavior against Jiading Wetland and Yong-An Wetland and the citizens who support these places. Click here to read the letter (PDF).

Next steps

SAVE International and our allies in Taiwan will continue to protest the construction of Road 1-4 and the Tai Power plant, and elevate the Jiading Wetland and Yong-An Wetland to a “Wetland of National Importance” (or even “International Importance”).

You may also still be able to sign onto the campaign for Jiading run by Citizen of the Earth, Taiwan. Click here to go their Google Form. This is the same link in the comment by Pei Hsiu Chiu at the bottom of this page.
If you can’t read Chinese but you want to add your name to their campaign anyway, you can see our English explanation here — click to view PDF.

4 responses to “Jiading (Qieding) and Yong-An Wetlands

  1. Pingback: Jiading (Qieding) and Yong-An Wetlands 茄萣和永安濕地 - 我是茄萣人噠

  2. Pingback: Jiading (Qieding) and Yong-An Wetlands 茄萣和永安濕地 - 我是茄萣人噠

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