Development of an Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Rural Economy
Alternative development of seacoast economies
The COA aims to alter traditional fishing harbors so that they may also serve leisure and tourism functions. In 2012, we undertook 35 projects to improve infrastructure and public facilities, 25 dredging and dredging-related projects, 14 projects to make harbors more multifunctional, and four projects to make piers at fishing harbors more resistant to natural disasters.
The COA wants to encourage recreational fishing and diversified use of fishing harbors, and provide citizens with the chance to use pleasure boats for recreational activities at sea. To this end, we have designated three ports (Badouzi, Wushi, and Anping) for construction of piers for pleasure craft. The pier at Badouzi, which is a “flagship project,” was formally opened to use on September 21, 2012. Construction was completed on the pier at Anping Fishing Harbor, which is a “demonstration project,” in December of 2012. Through the managed transformation of the fishing industry, and by bringing into play the local cultural resources of fishing communities, fishing harbors have become popular leisure destinations. This new direction will be of substantial help in promoting economic growth in fishing communities and raising the incomes of the people who live there.
Management and conservation of fisheries resources is important both in the international community and domestically, where we aim to protect Taiwan’s coastal ecology and environment and conserve fisheries resources. The COA has continued to manage industries such as trawling, gill-netting, torch fishing, larval anchovy, and flying fish roe, through measures that include designating zones where fishing is banned, designating closed seasons on fishing, setting total allowable catch (TAC) limits, and requiring boats to keep and submit fishing logbooks. We have also implemented fishing monitoring, control, and surveillance (MCS). In 2012 we archived 100,000 landed- catch data items. Moreover, in order to deter illegal taking of marine plants and animals, the COA conducts inspections and patrols; in 2012 there were 66 at-sea boarding- and-inspection actions. We also cooperated with the Coast Guard Administration to strengthen our enforcement work to fight IUU; there were 160 cases of violations discovered in 2012.
In a demonstration of Taiwan’s capabilities to conduct boarding-and-inspection operations on the high seas and to play an active role in management of distant fisheries resources, in 2012 the COA (a) conducted four patrols in the Pacific Ocean high seas, totaling 351 days and including 83 boarding-and-inspection actions; and (b) dispatched 61 observers to observe fishing operations and collect data and biological samples at sea, with an average observer coverage rate of 7.65% for operations in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans, thereby surpassing the coverage target of 5% set by major fisheries management organizations worldwide. In addition, in conformity with resolutions adopted by international fisheries organizations, Taiwan has taken a variety of measures to put a stop to illegal activities by adopting measures such as the “catch documentation scheme,” quota allocations, keeping a list of authorized vessels observation of transshipment at sea, and harbor inspections.
The COA has been working to strengthen management of our nation’s fishing fleet through measures such as a rapid reporting system for catch volume and the installation of monitoring systems (VMS) on fishing vessels. Through the end of 2012, we had coordinated the installation of VMS on a cumulative total of 2,374 vessels. In addition, in order to address the problem of a vessel having its VMS system break down irreparably, so that it would be compelled to return to port and thereby incur financial losses, we have amended the measures governing installation of a second VMS on longline fishing vessels of greater than 20 tons and less than 100 tons displacement, and as of the end of 2012 we had helped a total of 74 small longline tuna fishing boats install a second VMS.
Sustainable Development of the Natural Environment
■ Creating a safe, eco-friendly, and high-quality homeland” is the core vision of the “Afforestation Promotion Program” of the Forestry Bureau of the COA. Afforestation improves the quality of the natural environment, creates an interdependent ecology where plant and animal life can thrive, adds outdoor recreational space for citizens, enhances the natural scenery, contributes to the development of the rural leisure industry, and plays an important role in soil and water conservation (thereby reducing the impact of natural disasters). The afforestation program was honored with a “National Sustainable Development Award” in 2012.
■ In 2012 afforestation was completed on 2,774 hectares of plains land and 602 hectares of mountain slopes. Also, as part of the COA’s long- term effort to strengthen restoration of Taiwan’s coastal ecology, enrich coastal scenery, and reduce damage from windblown sand, seasonal winds, salt, and tides, in 2012 we completed 103 hectares of afforestation along the coast and 53 hectares on offshore islands. Also, as part of restoration efforts in mountain forests, we completed restoration of 1,520 hectares of degraded land. In total, afforestation policies were implemented over a total of 5,052 hectares.
■ The COA has continued the tasks of human intervention (of a positive, nurturing nature) and pest control in forests, which not only helps the growth of healthy forests with rich biodiversity, but has the additional benefit of supporting soil and water conservation. In 2012, we accomplished all our relevant tasks on 8,119 hectares of human-assisted forest land.
Sustainable forest management
■ In order to collect information about the nation’s forests, in 2008 we launched the Fourth Forest and Land Use Inventory and set up a long-term ecological monitoring system. As of the end of 2012, we had completed 2.1 million hectares of forest surveys in state-owned or privately-owned forest lands in western Taiwan as well as private forest. We also completed re-surveying of 886 Permanent Sample Plots in 2012, as well as completed reorganization and functional expansion of our aerial remote sensing and cartographic data supply platform.
■ Another of the COA’s roles is to protect the forests by preventing forest fires, stopping theft of forest products, and halting excessive or illegal logging. In 2011 there were (a) six responses to forest fires, covering 6.8 hectares of land; (b) 342 cases of theft of forest products, with a solution rate of 79%; (c) 16 cases of halting of excessive or illegal logging, covering 2.6 hectares. With respect to already existing cases of excessive logging in state-owner forest land, 892 hectares of illegally occupied land was recovered (870 cases). The government also reclaimed 1,013 hectares of state-owned forest land that had been rented out, in order to ensure it is better managed and to conduct new afforestation on that land. The special police units for forest areas handled 452 cases of violations of relevant laws (including the Forestry Act, Wildlife Conservation Act, and Soil and Water Conservation Act), turning 877 perpetrators over to the judicial system.
Support for biodiversity
The COA has a long-standing commitment to biodiversity. Actions taken in 2012 included:
■ Coordinating the work of relevant ministries in 22 specific projects under the Biodiversity Action Plan; studying and incorporating 20 Aichi Targets; and gradually incorporating the Satoyama Initiative, biodiversity mainstreaming, and related considerations in our policy making and implementation.
■ Preserving biodiversity in the irrigation pond areas of northern Taiwan: The Gaorong Wildlife Refuge has been created in Taoyuan County, an area with a unique ecology built around traditional irrigation ponds. (This is the 18th wildlife refuge in Taiwan.)
■ Creating a new classification system for levels of protection within national marine conservation areas: Marine conservation areas have been divided into three classifications depending upon level of protection to be afforded, and we have been holding activities to educate the public and promote marine conservation.
■ Collecting and organizing biodiversity data across different government ministries and agencies: It is now possible to access, through the Taiwan Biodiversity Information Facility (TaiBIF), over 40 data sets with 1.62 million items of data. Also, the Biota Taiwanica website has open data covering 6961species, and it is possible to search 3751 types of explanatory materials and 5236 images.
■ Supporting citizen-science activities to improve protection of animal species, including the “Avian Invasive Species Stop” monitoring network and the “Taiwan Wildlife Roadkill Observer Network.”
■ Surveying invasive plant species on 125,500 hectares of land nationwide; planning and implementation of monitoring measures for blocking invasive species; and removal of 1,325 spot-legged tree frogs and 171,874 brown anole lizards.
Teaching Environmental Sustainability
The COA has taken a number of steps to promote and improve education in sustainability and protection of the environment, including:
■ Promoting a certification system for facilities or sites that offer environmental education: Thus far, 17 sites have received certification, including nature education centers, leisure farms, communities participating in “rural revitalization” programs, soil-and-water conservation classrooms, and endemic species research and conservation centers.
■ Coordination of beautification of 754 households in 97 rural communities; and building of ecological restoration zones and wetlands in 18 locations.
■ Holding of 106 events on protecting the safety of rural communities in the face of climate change; holding of activities devoted to community ecological construction, education and guidance, as well as drainage ditch clearing, involving over 4000 people; and holding of various environmental education and promotional activities, with over 500,000 attendees.
■ The COA’s “Forest Environmental Education Resources Integration and Promotion Platform Project” won a “National Sustainable Development Award.”
■ Production of content for two sets of educational materials on man’s relationship with canines and on how people can be more responsible dog owners; production of a pamphlet for owners of animal husbandry operations on what they can do to reduce energy use and carbon emissions; and provision of real-time information via a website teaching animal husbandry operators how to prevent pollution, reuse resources, reduce energy use, and lower carbon emissions.
Managing, conserving, and restoring the land
Dealing with flood-prone areas
■ In 2006, two sub-programs were launched to improve soil-and-water conservation in upstream slopelands and to stabilize the soil on slopelands in order to reduce the risk of natural disasters. The first two stages (2006-2010) involved 2974 separate projects, and there are 1168 projects being conducted in stage three (2012-2013). By completion, these projects will have secured a total area of 1.169 million hectares of slopelands and improved safety for 2.504 million people in flood-prone areas. A total volume of 29.689 million cubic meters of sediment will have been checked by the end of stage three, preventing siltation in downstream parts of rivers that can lead to flooding of nearby communities.
■ In 2012 the COA also undertook a program to improve drainage in farmland in flood-prone areas. It includes 23 improvement projects that cover a large number of major drainage systems.
Restoration of the land
In 2012 the COA continued with our comprehensive surveying of watersheds. The goal of this program is to achieve balance of the sediment yield in watersheds, including: assessing the causal factors and potential scope of possible disaster events, improving techniques to deal with potential watershed-sediment disasters, and working out disaster-prevention strategies that incorporate both structural and non-structural methods. We conducted 25 projects to survey and map out watershed areas and develop specialized technologies/techniques for managing mountain areas to prevent, or minimize the impact of, disasters; as well as six projects surveying and mapping out soil and water resources. We also (i) held 255 events for educating people about soil and water conservation; (ii) inspected 823 hectares of land where there are incentives for afforestation of land that had been used illegally; (iii) conducted two assessments on special features of landslides in state-owned forest and at-risk areas; (iv) drew up a comprehensive plan for construction of a state-owned forest disaster-prevention monitoring and response system; and (v) accelerated the reclaiming (with compensation) of state-owned forest land that had been rented out, using the reclaimed land (1294 hectares) for afforestation.
Management of river watersheds and slopeland to prevent disasters
■ Focusing on watersheds as the unit of management, and acting on the basis of surveys conducted on landslides in state-owned forest areas and risk assessments of watershed areas, in 2012 the COA budgeted NT$985 million for 183 management projects involving: (a) stabilization of landslides in upstream state-owned forest areas, (b) sediment control, and (c) maintenance and emergency management projects. Work covered 165.7 hectares of landslide areas and checked the downward flow of 5.021 million cubic meters of sediment. Our goal is to restore forest areas as fast as possible, and fulfill our mission of conserving national forest land.
■ The COA implemented our project to update the Tsengwen, Nanhua, and Wutoushan reservoirs and stabilize water supply for southern Taiwan. In the first phase of the project (2010-2012), for management and conservation of reservoir catchment areas, costing NT$3.074 billion, we used multi-scale monitoring techniques to survey the vegetation cover rate in reservoirs, and found that the vegetation cover rate is gradually returning to the level prior to the devastating Typhoon Morakot of August, 2009. We effectively stabilized sediment with a total volume of 10.9 million cubic meters, reducing sediment in reservoirs and extending the number of years they can be used. ■ In our continued efforts to manage slopeland and prevent disasters, we have conducted engineering projects in 501 locations around Taiwan’s major reservoirs to do: (a) ㄊconservation and management of reservoir catchment areas; (b) prevention of sediment disasters, emergency management, and maintenance of engineering projects; (c) regional soil and water conservation and construction of green environments; (d)management of “Designated Water and Soil Conservation Areas.” Through these programs we are effectively reducing risks from sediment disasters and protecting our soil and water resources.
Reinforcement of the debris-flow disaster-prevention framework
The COA took the following measures in 2012 to improve preparedness against debris-flow disasters:
■ Identifying at-risk areas and making appropriate plans: By the end of 2012 the COA had announced to the public 1,660 locations of potential debris-flow torrents across 680 communities in 17 counties and cities. We also updated our count of persons in at- risk areas (the most updated figure is 46,554 persons) and reassessed and updated the evacuation plans for these at-risk citizens.
■ Improving community volunteer disaster preparedness and prevention work: In 2012 we ran 47 drills and 261 informational campaigns to prepare people to evacuate in the face of potential debris-flow disasters, trained a total of 1387 volunteer disaster-prevention specialists, and mobilized 273 communities to participate in voluntary disaster preparedness and prevention work.
■ Strengthening the debris-flow disaster response mechanism and adopting sophisticated debris-flow monitoring technology: In dealing with typhoons and torrential rains that affected Taiwan in 2012, the COA convened emergency operations groups for 13 events (eight for typhoons, and five for heavy rains), totaling 40 days and 4684 participants Emergency notifications were issued on 561,014 occasions, and 1,537 red warnings and 2,083 yellow warnings were also issued. We also continued our work constructing monitoring stations, of which by the end of 2012 there were 44 (27 on-site stations, three mobile stations, and 14 gird stations). Finally, we participated in six international conferences or exhibitions of disaster prevention technology.
Monitoring and management of slopeland
■ The COA classifies slopeland into various categories and sets restrictions on what agricultural uses are allowed in specific locations. In 2012 we completed surveying and classification on 2,807 hectares. Locations where there is an urgent need for stabilizing soil and water resources are known as “Designated Water and Soil Conservation Areas.” Long-term plans have been made or are being made for managing these areas. So far 10 conservation projects have been completed in such areas, while the COA has also provided guidance for long-term plans (or comprehensive assessments) in 13 others, as well as for mapping, planning, and system construction in two cases.
■ The COA has approved soil and water conservation plans (including simplified soil and water notifications) for slopeland in 1,649 cases and did 2,263 inspections of ongoing projects of this type. In 2012 we conducted satellite remote-sensing imaging in 5,300 cases; conducted investigations into and forced a halt to illegal use of slopeland in 1,532 cases (with fines totaling NT$99.42 million and persons turned over to the judicial system in 67 cases); provided guidance to local governments in creating soil and water conservation service teams, which provided service to citizens in 3,386 cases; and worked to improve public understanding of the importance of obeying the relevant laws in order to ensure that development and use of mountain slopeland is done safely.
Improvement of the environment for aquaculture
■ The COA is encouraging the development of seawater aquaculture and trying to reduce the dependence of aquaculture operators on drawing of groundwater. We want to provide operators with high-quality seawater and improve the overall environment for aquaculture. In Yiwu in Yunlin County and Shinwen in Chiayi County, the COA has been running demonstration programs to improve water management, water supply, and drainage in areas where there has been severe land subsidence as a result of excessive drawing of groundwater. We have undertaken projects to build or repair public facilities related to seawater aquaculture, and improved pipelines in subsidence areas. As of the end of December of 2012, we had completed a cumulative total of 32,644 meters of water-supply and drainage pipelines and upgraded 28,792 meters of roads in such areas.
■ In order to reach our targets for reduction of water use by the aquaculture industry and reduce the impact of the industry on the environment, the COA has adopted measures to restructure the aquaculture industry, for example developing seawater aquaculture and promoting the use of technology to recycle and reuse fish-pond water. From 1991 through 2011, the volume of groundwater used by aquaculture fell from 2.4 billion metric tons to 864 million metric tons. The percentage of production volume in the industry accounted for by inland saltwater ponds rose from 34% to 50%.
Maintaining superior farmland
The COA aims to preserve high-quality farmland. The general direction in national land policy is toward demarcation, classification and management of the nation’s land on the basis of function, and to this purpose, in 2012 the COA completed preliminary work on the mapping, categorization, and grading of agriculture development areas in 15 municipalities and counties. We have collected data on the quality of farmland indifferent locations, and also constructed a planning and surveying system for continuing to gather gathering long-term data on agricultural land. These measures will be essential to agricultural policymakers in demarcating, preserving, investing in, utilizing, and managing agricultural land resources.
At the same time, the utilization and management of agricultural land must be adapted to the diversification the rural economy, which means that we must reassess existing laws and regulations governing agricultural land. Decisions as to whether or not to rezone agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes, however, must be carefully weighed, and any rezoning must be necessary, reasonable, and without any alternative option. We must ensure that we do not lose large tracts of high-quality farmland and we must avoid scattered “leapfrog” utilization. Moreover, rezoning should only be done for projects that will not affect the integrity of the environment for agricultural production and will take into consideration the rights and interests of the rural population, especially working farmers.
Improvement of irrigation facilities
Efforts to upgrade irrigation facilities in 2012 resulted in (a)renovation of 337 kilometers of irrigation waterways and improvement of 651 related structures, (b)farmland consolidation 539 hectares, and (c)improvement of the farm roads and waterways of the early consolidated areas 1,226 hectares irrigation roads on 539 hectares of rezoned agricultural land and 1,226 hectares of early- stage rezoned agricultural land. Irrigation facilities must be continually upgraded in order to reduce wastage of water in transport, raise efficiency of water use, and improve the quality and structural integrity of the physical infrastructure. As alternatives to traditional irrigation, we have been educating farmers in the use of spray irrigation, which uses less water, and installed pipeline irrigation equipment on 1,939 hectares. In order to ensure that we have an effective handle on the quality of the nation’s irrigation water, we also carried out 38,358 tests to monitor water quality and test for pollutants from waste water. Better and more efficient irrigation systems are essential to protecting the livelihoods of farmers, upgrading farm operations, and improving the quality of life in rural communities.