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Cross-Departmental Cooperation for Leopard Cat Conservation - Forestry Bureau Strengthens Green Network Establishment and Promotes Leopard Cat Habitat Incentive Payout

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201906/11
The “Leopard Cat Conservation Autonomous Bill” was rejected by the Miaoli County Council during the review stage, more than 830,000 netizens called for strengthening the habitat protection of the leopard cat. Su Tseng-chang, President of the Executive Yuan, went to the “Leopard Cat Rice” area in Fong Shu Village, Tongxiao Township, Miaoli County to inspect the current status of the leopard cat habitat. He listened to the briefing of the Forestry Bureau of the Council of Agriculture (COA) and instructed the relevant departments to immediately implement the leopard cat habitat conservation program. It includes enforcing eco-friendly measures for all existing road and construction projects, establishing prior ecological surveys and adopting eco-friendly designs in new roads or construction projects, as well as the implementation of leopard cat-friendly habitat incentive measures. Su Tseng-chang emphasized that the central government will not re-classify the private property of the citizens as a protected area, but instead will focus on rewarding residents for maintaining the environment and ecology, and asked the residents of Miaoli to put their concerns to rest.
The COA has already held an inter-departmental meeting this week. In addition to the existing leopard cat conservation measures, the COA will conduct a trial of “Leopard Cat-Friendly Ecological Service Incentive” measures in Tongxiao Township, Miaoli County and Zhongliao Township, Nantou County, where the known leopard cat populations are relatively stable. Those who employ eco-friendly farming methods within the leopard cat habitat environment will be rewarded an incentive payout of NT$20,000 to NT$30,000 per hectare of farmland. For the non-agricultural areas, the relevant departments will also be developing a reward program. If the communities cooperate to conduct leopard cat monitoring and habitat patrol, the Forestry Bureau will also issue rewards based on the leopard cat appearance spotting achievement, to encourage local residents to maintain the ecosystem and continue to support leopard cat conservation.
The Forestry Bureau pointed out that in the past, poultry farmers in the low-altitude mountain areas mostly regarded leopard cats as a “harmful pest”. The Forestry Bureau also fully recognize the practical problems faced by the local residents, such as the loss of chickens, and the higher cost and lower production of eco-friendly farming. Thus, subsidies will be provided to poultry farmers for the construction and repair of cages. For farmers who implement eco-friendly farming, they will be provided with the ecological service incentive payout, so that farmers’ efforts put toward leopard cat protection can be exchanged for practical benefits. In the long run, these incentive measures can guide the positive attitude of the public, in turn, deepen the residents' care for ecology, and gradually help them internalize the value of conservation.
Su Tseng-chang, President of the Executive Yuan, also pointed out that the government's incentive measures are to transform the leopard cat into a “mascot” that makes the people feel honored and auspicious so that the people of Miaoli people can be proud that their hometown is the habitat of the leopard cat.
The Forestry Bureau emphasized that leopard cat is a typical Satoyama wildlife that is living in the low-altitude mountain environment surrounded by human settlements which are mostly private land. Therefore, based on the constitutional protection of citizens’ property rights, it is highly unlikely that private land would be easily claimed to become protected areas. Co-existence and co-prosperity will only be possible when all citizens jointly protect the habitat and support eco-friendly measures. When the habitat is sound and robust, not only leopard cat, but all wild animals will benefit from it. The ecosystem is a system that cannot have faults in any part and needs to be handled through holistic understanding. The Forestry Bureau said that it hopes that after paying attention to the survival of a single species, the public will further see the importance of the overall ecosystem and building habitat for conservation, so that wildlife can reproduce and multiply with no concerns, and Taiwan can once again return to the state of a “beautiful island” where living, production, and ecology can all co-prosper.
In addition, the Forestry Bureau will work closely with the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) on the basis of its existing “National Ecology Green Network Establishment Project” and “Endangered Species Conservation Action Plan” to jointly speed up the establishment of eco-friendly road and habitat plans. Lin Chia-lung, Minister of Transportation and Communications, also pointed out that the bureaus under his jurisdiction have been instructed to properly implement the plan.
At present, the COA has already listed and announced the leopard cat sighting hotspots, and will work with the MOTC to set up leopard cat-friendly roadkill prevention facilities for national highways and provincial highways in the vicinity. Improvement plans for the county roads and the township roads will also be developed by the local government and will be subsidized by the MOTC and the COA. It is expected to be completed by the end of this year. The Forestry Bureau pointed out that it had cooperated with the Miaoli County Government last year to establish a leopard cat-friendly passageway and collision-protection net for the Miaoli County Road No. 29, which has effectively prevented the roadkill situation of that particular road section. It has repeatedly monitored the use of this underground passageway by leopard cats to safely cross the road. This example will be followed to continue with the construction of other leopard cat-friendly facilities for other road sections.
For new roads and other construction projects, all roads located more than one kilometer or one hectare within the leopard cat habitat will be subsidized by the COA for ecological surveys, while environmentally-friendly construction methods should be adopted at the initial planning stage and during the construction stage.
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Visit counts:155 Last updated on:2019-12-08