Kaohsiung Cieding Samfar Association Builds a Miracle of River Ecological Restoration
Once to be called "Black Water," Erren River, situated as the boundary of Tainan City and Kaohsiung City in southern-west Taiwan. It was notorious for its dark, opaque water quality due to the emission of wastewater and e-wastes from the upstream for many years. Founded in 1995, Kaohsiung Cieding Samfar Association dedicated to protecting fishermen's' rights and environmental protection from the increasing pollution and decreasing fish catch in Erren River. The Association keeps up engaging in wetland building, waste removal, water quality monitoring, and bamboo boardwalk in the mangrove area…etc., as well as creating new sights by carrying out the Multiple Employment Promotion Project (MEPP). The water becomes more transparent than ever, the local ecosystem successfully revived, and this place set an outstanding example of an ecosystem and river remediation in Taiwan.
▲Project Manager Chu-Chun Chien thinks that the meaning of a tour guide docent is to make the tourists interested.
A General Assembly for River Remediation and Rescue the Ecological Catastrophe
In early years, piles of wasted PCB Printed circuit board were littered alongside Erren River was a regular scene. These wastes were left there for more than a decade. Not to mention the emission wastewater worsened the water quality of Erren River. Eventually, the river became the notorious "Black Water" that was recognized as the "Champion of Polluted River in Taiwan." Those abandoned toxic wastes were uncovered as the Water Resources Bureau started the embankment construction. Tons of garbage were revealed. Experts identified them polluted. The long-forgotten comer of Erren River showed up again.
The President of the Association was Mr. Su at that time. He led the reporters and visited Erren River toward the upstream." Slag derived from smelting industries was buried along shores, metal substances leaked into the river with the rain, and resulted in ecosystem damages."
Creatures in the water absorbed the heavy metal and became the food for human beings, potential food security, and health problems are predictable. Immediate action was needed.
Lots of dead fish spotted in the highly polluted area, mudskippers and crabs vanished at the same time. The landscape was bleak.
In response to this, the remediation took both the central and local forces. The entire process was enlarged with several phases to enable the mud in the bottom to release PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl).
Although it's not recovered currently, the water quality improved significantly. Sixteen years later, a TV program took place in Erren River after its remediation. Surprisingly, the water is transparent with tiny micro substances only. This result encourages everyone much.
Mudskippers Returns with New Neighbors!
Project Manager Chu-Chun Chien used to work at the Shuangliu Natural Center affiliated to Forestry Bureau, and she's enthusiastic about environmental protection.
Her position in the Association was a perfect arrangement. The differences between idea and reality always meet disputes in Erren River. For example, the grey area lies between regulations and human nature. It's not an easy job. Bai Sha Luen Fishing Harbor, next to the Association, is self-sufficient despite its size.
When the "Green Oysters Incident" caused by copper pollution busted out in 1986, the entire media industry trembled, and people are highly concerned about food security. It also dragged down the economy as a side effect of the Incident. People were determined to improve their surroundings together.
They set up a Patrol Team to keep their eyes on the pollution and walking along the way, hoping the river rehabilitation will complete one day." The mainstream length of Erren River is about 63.2 kilometers. After the river remediation, various ecological species began to appear, such as mudskippers and fiddler crabs, as well as aggressive round shaft crabs, little egrets, herons…etc., which emerge a landscape of natural ecosystem classroom."
Large groups of plants like mangrove forest, saddle vine, sea hibiscus, and cotoneaster are observed that educates citizens at the same time.
▲Kaohsiung Cieding Samfar Association dedicated to environmental protection for the Erren River with full force.
Guided Tour of Ecological Education to Promote the Concept of Environmental Protection
"At the time when the fishing village was down, the vacant building of the fishermen's Association was transferred to Kaohsiung Cieding Samfar Association." With the success of ecological restoration, the Association continues to promote river protection with Chang Jung Christian University and institutions in the upstream. It's Easy to Destroy but Hard to Build. The best way to educate people is to invite people to visit this place, to listen attentively, and to enjoy a natural symphony of the river.
Project manager Ms. Chien acts as the bridge to connect communication and engagement between the team and multiple partners. She broke the traditional practice and added more ideas such as environmental education in a tour guide." They update events on the Facebook fan page to publish event news, make fans get involved in while receiving the latest news."
Also, the Association owns the first legally operated recreational fishing vessel in Kaohsiung. It is mainly sailing along with the downstream of Erren River and hosting trips for visitors. The Association hosts beach activities and parties on board to promote environmental protection. They will try their best to cooperate with events like these. Cruise at sunset is quite romantic. It's hard to imagine the "Black Water" landscape when it was more than ten years ago. Only to participate in the tour in person, can you witness the amazing transformation of this river."
Strengthen the Cultivation of Talents and Establish a Systematic Management for Social Enterprises of Environmental Protection
"In recent years, the Association has successively launched ecological classrooms and guided tour planning. As the number of participants increased, the service must keep up with speed. With the assistance of subsidized human resources planned by the Multiple Employment Promotion Program (MEPP), they reinforced the plan, design, and development of their events."
"To cultivate more tour guide docents and maintain consistent guiding quality, a docent ought to observe the participants within the groups at first. A tour guide must be a friend of the river, acquire knowledge of plants and guiding skills, repeatedly practice it, and provide proper content based on the current situation. After docents were fully trained, they are ready to break a leg."
A docent delivers the knowledge of plant characteristics at planned sights as participants walking into the bamboo boardwalk from the rear yard of the wetland. Later, people board on the boat after crossing the wetland area and start a 6.5-kilometer tour of Erren River. The tour contains several stops for wetland commentary, photo shooting at the best bird watching locations. Group members would witness the traditional net fishing boats that display the memory of the fishing village in the past. The eco-friendly lifestyle of sustainability is represented here with proper fisheries regulations that only the big ones are allowed to retain. This convention assures the endless life cycle of marine ecology.
Project manager Ms. Chien is from Taoyuan County. She pursued her education in the south for several years. Therefore, Chien is no stranger to the environment in the south and the settlement of fishing villages. During this period, she also took part in the operation of NGO organizations. During her career transition, she dove into the environmental protection issues related to her job how to unleash the potential accumulated from working experience for years and further enrich one's career.
Accidently, Chien's expertise shines via a local employment opportunity in MEPP. After joining the Association, Chien played a crucial role in environmental transformation. She planned to get more people involved in and experience the journey in her project. At the same time, this project brought innovative ecological approaches, boosted self-sufficiency in the Chieding region, and promoted the micro-industry that depended on marine ecology. She initiated an excellent standard solution."
The unemployed found a way through MEPP. All roads lead to Rome. One can always find his/her direction as long as he/she keeps on moving. "Environmental protection is a never-ending goal. To prevent future environmental pollution, it must start with education. Wastewater discharge or environmental pollution should not be allowed. Assemble the youth creativity and traditional culture of a fishing village, let them communicate with each other, and let the river have a new life."
The Association has been there for decades and focuses on the principle purpose. Changes will come when you are determined. Erren River teaches people with clear water as a living proof of the power of people's will.
Case Story - Multiple Employment Promotion Project
Chu-Chun Chien - Kaohsiung Cieding Samfar Association
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Please attribute this article to “Workforce Development Agency, Ministry Of Labor.”