More than 20 non-governmental organzations (NGOs) from across the nation gathered in Taipei on Saturday for a one-day National NGO Environment Forum, where they set the reduction of cement-covered national land, the pursuit of sustainable energy and a just eco-society as the guiding principles for the next year.
The annual forum began in 2004, hosted by the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union, and has been hosted by other organizations since, becoming a platform where groups can exchange ideas for mapping out future goals.
This year’s annual forum was organized by the Homemakers United Foundation under the theme “Initiating a Green and Sustainable Homeland,” and attracted more than 200 participants.
A consensus was reached on the three main topics for lecture and discussion sessions this year.
Dealing with the “sustainable national land” topic, the groups urged the government to protect the natural ecology of rivers from artificial development, to establish withdrawal mechanisms for artificial weirs and dams, and to improve tap water leakage.
To pursue sustainable national land, the groups said the government should not construct new roads in mountainous areas above an altitude of 1,500m, improve public urban construction to contain a lower percentage of impermeable layers, aim for zero growth in cement-covered trails and to pass a wetlands law as soon as possible to reflect the ecological value of wetlands.
On “sustainable energy,” the groups called for the imposition of an energy tax and subsidies for public transportation, splitting up the state-run Taiwan Power Co into two companies in charge of generating electricity and power systems respectively, reducing the electricity reserve, and aim for zero growth in electricity demand and a nuclear-free homeland.
On the topic of a just eco-society, the groups urged for a separate animal protection department and a specialized agency for marine protection amid governmental reform, the inclusion of environmental and animal protection curriculums into formal school education, and setting regulations to ban substations or high-voltage towers within 300m of schools or residential districts to avoid long-term exposure to electromagnetic radiation.
Several NGOs also used Earth Day yesterday to urge for concrete environmental protection efforts.
The Society of Wilderness (SOW) said that starting from yesterday, it would hold 106 events about natural habitat protection in 23 habitats in urban areas across the nation. It plans to invite more than 10,000 participants to help build eco-friendly natural trails, clean out alien species that are destroying the local ecosystem, conduct beach cleanups and get involved in other events.
“We hope to encourage people to pay attention to the tiny habitats in their everyday surroundings, and open up their natural senses to feel the bond between human beings and the natural Earth,” SOW president Lai Jung-hsiao (賴榮孝) said.
“Be it a concrete jungle in a city or a natural environment that they live in, everyone can live in harmony with nature,” he added.
In Taitung County yesterday, participants from eight civic groups gathered at Jihuei Fishing Port (基翬漁港) to clean up the seashore and announce their determination to protect the natural environment from the planned construction of a large marine recreational park in the area, as an expression to celebrate Earth Day.
The event attracted dozens of people from across the country, including surfers who frequent the area, and together they cleaned up a total of 165.5kg of waste near the port.
Taiwan Environmental Info Association member Sun Hsiu-ju (孫秀如) said they are worried that construction could damage the coral reefs in the ocean near the shore, because they have already witnessed large amounts of soil from the construction site washing into the ocean on rainy days.
They urged that the construction projects be halted temporarily and that environmental impact evaluations of the coral reefs be completed before construction is resumed.