Earth Island News
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the founding of SAVE International (Spoonbill Action Voluntary Echo). The organization was created in 1997 in response to the threat of the Binnan industrial complex’s being built on the wintering grounds of the endangered Black-faced Spoonbill (Platalea minor) in Taiwan. As of 2005, BirdLife International reports the total number of the species worldwide at 1,452, a significant increase over the approximately 700 birds reported when SAVE was founded.
SAVE has worked with an international network of colleagues and scientists to stop the industrial complex. To date, we have been successful in halting this project, which would have sent the spoonbill into the extinction vortex and critically compromised the local habitat that supports a variety of other endemic and endangered species. We continue to build our international network with activist groups and individuals in the other nations along the Black-faced Spoonbill flyway – in addition to Taiwan, these include Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, Japan, North and South Korea, the Philippines, and Macau. During the past year, we have also developed a series of case studies for these countries that document the various sites where the bird is found and the challenges it faces.
Over the last 10 years, SAVE, working with colleagues in Taiwan, has remained vigilant in protecting the spoonbill, stalling a free-trade zone airport and development proposed for the former Binnan site through project critique and an alternative plan proposal. In addition, through habitat stepping-stone research and planning, SAVE has delineated habitat preservation zones that are now included in a draft master plan for the National Scenic Area in southwest Taiwan. This area was created as a result of stopping Binnan and calling attention to the region’s natural resources.
Our anniversary celebrations started in October 2006 with the 10th annual “Spoonbill Migration,” held in conjunction with the introductory undergraduate environmental design class taught by SAVE co-founder Randy Hester, a professor in the College of Environmental Design at the University of California, Berkeley. More than 150 spoonbill sculptures created by concerned UC students adorned the campus, attracting much attention from members of the public and faculty, students, and staff. In addition to a critique of the sculptures by an invited jury, members of the public voted for their favorite bird in SAVE’s “People’s Choice Award.”
Many people visited SAVE’s information table and bake sale (one of its best fundraisers) during the day, which culminated in a reception and exhibition – “A Celebration of Student Activism” – showcasing the work students have been doing over the last decade for spoonbills and their habitat.
SAVE looks forward to the next 10 years, focusing on expanding the international flyway contacts and continuing its fight to save the bird from extinction by protecting its habitat.