A Letter to President Chen Re: the Fairy Pitta

Chen Shui-Bian,
President of the Republic of China

Re: Impact of Hushan dam project on Huban Important Bird Area

Honorable Sir,

BirdLife International is a global alliance of conservation organisations working together for the world's birds and people in over 100 countries worldwide. Globally, BirdLife International has over 2,500,000 members.

Between 4 and 8 November 2004, the Asia Partnership of BirdLife International held its Council Meeting in Taipei, Taiwan. At this meeting, BirdLife International was concerned to learn about a proposed dam project at Hushan village, Douliu city, Yunlin county, Taiwan.

Hushan village lies within Huban Important Bird Area, one of 53 sites in Taiwan identified as being of international importance for birds and biodiversity by Wild Bird Federation Taiwan (the BirdLife Partner). The Hushan area supports one of the most significant examples of lowland evergreen forest remaining in Taiwan. Recent surveys have shown the area to be of global importance for biodiversity. The Hushan area supports a population of Fairy Pitta Pitta nympha, a species recognised by IUCN (the World Conservation Union) as threatened with extinction globally. The population of Fairy Pitta at Hushan numbers at least 150 individuals, making it one of the most important in the world. In addition, the Hushan area supports five bird species endemic to Taiwan.

On behalf of BirdLife International and the BirdLife Asia Partnership, I would like to respectfully express my concern about the potential impacts of the proposed dam project at Hushan village on the rich lowland evergreen forest ecosystem. In particular, I am concerned that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the proposed dam did not mention the global importance of the site for Fairy Pitta. In addition, I am concerned that the EIA did not consider certain low cost, low impact, viable alternatives to the dam, which have been proposed.

I would like to respectfully propose that the Government of the Republic of China ensures that a comprehensive EIA of the proposed Hushan dam project is conducted. This EIA should consider more fully the potential impacts of the project on the population of Fairy Pitta and the lowland evergreen forest ecosystem at Hushan village, and take into account new proposed alternatives, such as construction of a groundwater pathway along the Chingshiu River. Moreover, I would like to propose that the Government of the Republic of China assesses the feasibility of conferring appropriate protection status on Huban Important Bird Area.

Yours faithfully,

Mike Rands
Director and Chief Executive
BirdLife International