Last year, several typhoons have damaged the east coast resulting in mudslides in many areas of Taitung County. Some blamed poor soil and water conservation and exploitation of land as the reason. And since much of Taitung's planted hillside land today is cultivated by manual labor, which is legal. The Taitung County Government believes that there might be a need to amend the laws to enforce stricter regulations.
Last year, Typhoon Meranti caused mudslides in Taitung's Hongye Village, where reconstruction is still underway. According to critics, agriculture-based deforestation was what triggered the mudslides. Recently, hillsides at Duoliang Village were also found to have been converted to cultivated land, which greatly increases the chance of a mudslide. However, local farmers said their ancestors had tilled the land for centuries and mudslides never occurred until recent years. They said it's not fair to blame environmental damage entirely on them.
==MR. LEE Farmer==
That's nonsense. I have never seen an excavator digging around here.
94% of Taitung County is hillside land. The Taitung County Government said according to Taiwan's Soil And Water Conservation Act, machine-assisted agriculture is forbidden on such land, except when the land has been designated farmland and when a soil and water conservation plan has been filed and approved, but manual farming is in general allowed.
==HSU JUI-KUEI Dir. Taitung County Agriculture Dept.==
On land with a slope greater than 26 degrees, we try to limit human development. But in principle, we encourage putting idle land to use, and when farming is done manually, it is allowed and requires no application in advance.
The Taitung County Government was censured by the Control Yuan last year over its lax attitude towards managing hillside development. Yet government officials said that more than 300 illegal development activities were uncovered by the government last year, and more than NT$10 million of fines were dished out. Much of Taitung's planted hillside land today is cultivated by manual labor, which is legal. If this is to be stopped, the law will have to be amended first.
TRANSLATED BY：ANTHONY LIN
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