Yellow Butterfly Valley

Year of compilation: 2001

Site description
Extent of this site: Yellow Butterfly Valley is located at the northeast corner of Kaohsiung County’s Meinung Township, on a tributary of the Chishan River- the upstream section and watershed of the Meinung Stream, surrounded by hilly land. Within the valley is the famous Twin Creek Tropical Plant Nursery. The land principally belongs to Taiwan Forestry Bureau forest compartments, with narrow strips of land on both sides of the river in private hands. According to records from the time of the Japanese occupation, the Japanese government selected the mountain area from Meinung to Liukuei for the large-scale planting of the Bombay Black Wood Cassia siamea to be used for making rifle stocks and railroad ties. The extensive planting of this tree subsequently supported flourishing populations of Catopsilia pomona butterflies. In this area each year flocks of over 50 million individuals of Eurema and other butterfly species gather together in what is called the “Happy Isle”. In recent years, many of the original forests were changed into orchards and lead to the decreasing of the habitats for butterflies. In addition, after the plan of constructing the Meinung Reservoir was exposed to the public, many people started to cultivate the lands within the proposed reservoir in order to get compensate from the government for their lands been levied to construct the reservoir. Consequently, the habitat of Catopsilia pomona has been destroyed and is now nearly exhausted. This area contains the most complete preservation of Hakka culture in Taiwan.

Key biodiversity
IBA Al criterion species: Fairy Pitta • Fairy Pitta with 10 birds in 1993; 6 in 1994; 2 in 1995; 2 in 1996; 2 in 1997; 2 in 1998: 4 in 1999; Records from many years indicate that the Fairy Pitta is a summer visitor at this site, and can be seen on average from May to September. It has been recorded nesting here, and there are observations of raising young. • At this site 82 species have been recorded, among which are the rare Maroon Oriole, Besra Sparrow Hawk, Asian Crested Goshawk and Hodgson’s Hawk Eagle.

Non-bird biodiversity: • At the Twin Creek Tropical Plant Nursery, in 1935 during the Japanese occupation, the Japanese imported many species of trees, selecting the most suitable for creating man-made forests, so it is called the Chutoujiao Tropical Tree Garden. Currently the plant nursery covers 7.56 ha. and 96 species of introduced species survive. • This site is important habitat for the butterfly Catopsilia pomona.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
• In recent years, the vegetative cover has undergone dramatic changes to orchards. The habitat of the Fairy Pitta is decreasing, possibly seriously affecting pitta habitat and breeding. • Tourist volume to Yellow Butterfly Valley is continually increasing, and tourists haphazardly discard much trash. • The proposed construction of the Meinung reservoir is a cause for much concern. • There is illegal construction and operation of small-scale incinerators. • With five major faults passing through this area, the threat of earthquakes is high. • There is excessive capturing of butterflies here.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
Lobbying activities: • In 1993, the Meinung People’s Association initiated opposition to construction of the Meinung Reservoir. • The Yellow Butterfly Valley is unique in the world as butterfly habitat. In 1986 during the butterflies’ breeding season, an extraordinary number of 50 million individual butterflies was recorded. The construction of the Meinung Reservoir will obliterate this ecological butterfly valley, going against the tide of global conservation, and destroying one of Taiwan’s precious ecological resources. From 1995, local groups of Meinung have come together to form conservation organizations, and created the first Taiwanese ecology ceremonies “Meinung Yellow Butterfly Ceremonies”, hoping for the conservation of this precious mountain forest. • On 12 August 2000, the Meinung Pitta Association and the Meinung People’s Association initiated a campaign to encourage everyone to support the establishment of the Yellow Butterfly Valley Ecology Park.

Habitat and land use
• About 1/4 of the tobacco grown in Taiwan is produced in Meinung.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Yellow Butterfly Valley. Downloaded from on 13/07/2020.