最後的巡禮

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1992 / 10月

文‧徐仁修 圖‧徐仁修


此刻我在推土機的nn聲中,對這美麗的野池做最後的巡禮。何時,人類才會珍惜自己原本擁有的?……


在龍潭靠山的小丘間,有一方隱藏在防風竹林裡的小池塘,四周青草葳蕤,岸樹垂掩。池水清幽,波平如鏡,難得一陣穿林而來的涼風,微微弄縐這反映著北台灣夏日的藍天白雲。幾波漣漪,池面立刻恢復映照著清明的福爾摩沙天空。

一方小池,生機無限

池裡緊靠著岸草的水中,長著一簇簇有如睡蓮的浮葉植物——台灣萍蓬草,一朵朵麗如黃金打造的金花,自那田田的葉間穿水而出,不只使這池子美麗脫俗,也使人相信它是沼澤仙子幽居的家園。

在這清淨的水中,蓋斑鬥魚時時從水草間浮起,吐著小泡沫營造牠的愛巢。那斑爛的體色以及飄飄多姿的長鰭,能使最沒有美感的人也著迷。

幾隻黃黑相間的斑蜓,在青蔥的岸草間追逐嬉戲,細小的豆娘在台灣萍蓬草的黃花間飛飛停停,偶爾一隻鮮麗的擬蛺蝶,低低掠過水面,飛越到對岸。這些小小的生物,使這一方小池子變得生動活潑起來。

我坐在岸樹的涼蔭下,陶醉於這美麗的風景裡,也為這些台灣特有種生物的存在而感動。在這小小的池子,我窺見了福爾摩沙原貌的一斑。

可是,這小池子在一位年僅十九歲,中興大學昆蟲系二年級的顏聖紘眼裡,它有更深層的意義。

他幾乎走遍了台灣……

八年前,他不過是一個十一歲的小朋友,一次野外的旅行,他為水生植物的美妙迷住了,就此開始了研究台灣的水生植物。

年復一年,他利用課餘,在台灣的濕地沼塘搜尋、觀察,幾乎走遍了台灣。他跟隨水生植物專家楊遠波博士跑了不少野外,而雙親也為他從國外訂了大量的生物雜誌與參考書,現在,他幾乎是少數對台灣濕地沼塘最瞭解的人。

在這嬌小、美麗的野池邊,他為我介紹了許多台灣特有種生物,以及名字充滿異國風味,甚至邊荒風情的植物,例如日本簣藻、印度水豬母乳、烏蘇里聚藻……。

這些植物都別具意義,它們大多是由候鳥從外國攜帶過來的,正如水韭、東亞黑三稜一樣,這些屬於溫熱帶的植物,竟然能在亞熱帶的台灣落戶,讓國際的植物學家驚奇不已,其中不乏是植物地理學上的南限植物。

台灣萍蓬草更別具深意,因為萍蓬草屬於溫帶性水生植物,主要分布在北美洲及歐亞大陸北部,而台灣萍蓬草可能是世界萍蓬草分布的南限和冰河期遺留在台灣的孑遺植物。而更難得的是,在世界各地區堳雂皉陳S有種水生植物的情形下,獨獨台灣萍蓬草是台灣特有種,而引起國際學者的重視。

大人哪堨h了?

正當我沉醉在福爾摩沙光榮的驕傲堙A一連串的巨響驚醒我的沉緬,那聲響來自對岸防風林後面,顏聖紘告訴我這是新建工程的推土機正在趕工。

他無奈地說:「這池子就要跟我們永別了,過幾天,推土機就會填平這個池子,所有的動植物與它的美麗都將就此消失……。」

一股悲傷自我心底湧起,直沖我的眼睛。這個島上有多少美麗的角落,在我們還沒有發現它就被我們摧毀了。這麼大的工程,竟然沒有調查過它將破壞多少有特色的風景地形,毀滅多少特有種或珍稀生物。

記得好幾年前,法國在建造一條著名的高速鐵路時,生物學家發現,有一段高速鐵路會妨礙一群特有種青蛙回到沼澤去交尾繁殖。最後鐵路為了這一群小青蛙而改為高架,工程費也多了好幾千萬法郎。

這種尊重自然的精神,真正表現出了一個國家的文化、文明。

美麗沼塘,填平待沽

顏聖紘在工程沿線上不斷地搶救一些即將被掩埋的珍稀水生植物。我看他在一些已經被半埋浸的濕地堙A撈、拔、拍照,使我感動不已。為甚麼是一個這樣的孩子知其不可為而為,大人哪堨h了呢?

除了工程所破壞的濕地外,因它所帶動繁榮地方的期待,造成的影響更大。沿線的鄉鎮居民,紛紛把已有上百年歷史的濕地、池塘抽乾或填平待售。這麼豐富美麗的沼塘,竟然沒有人願意將它列為保護區。

在楊梅一處行將乾枯的沼塘堙A我拍到了有名的田蔥、水杉菜、石龍尾、微果草,以及尚待命名、我戲稱它顏氏紫蘇菜的水生植物。它的豐富可見一斑。

看著它日漸乾竭的池水,以及逼近的工廠,我知道它已來日無多,就正如它方圓一公里以內已經被填平的十五個沼塘一樣。

台灣雖然是蕞爾小鳥,但水生植物卻多達五十餘科二百多種,目前有幾十多種面臨絕滅的危機。以台灣原產的五種睡蓮科植物為例,其中芡(Euryale ferox)、午子蓮(Nymphaea tetragona)、紅花睡蓮(Nym-phaea lotus var. pubescens)早已絕種,而蓴菜(Brasenia schreberi)亦已瀕臨滅種,只有台灣萍蓬草(Nuphar shimadai)在桃園的一些老池塘裡一息尚存。

至於難得一見的長葉毛o菜,踏破鐵鞋的顏聖紘只在工程填土邊緣的幾寸濕地上,找到一株已枯乾的「屍體」。

水盡淚乾

濕地沼塘的生態遠比森林脆弱,但也比森林容易保護;只是它經常受到忽略,甚至輕視。

墾丁國家公園的南仁山沼澤濕地,原本是一大片各種水草叢生的美麗濕地,過去,顏聖紘幾乎每年都到這裡探望它們。

但自從一項工程在附近大興土木之後,濕地消失了,無數的水生植物與候鳥也逐年減少了。而這卻是唯一劃入國家公園的濕地。

此刻我在推土機的nn聲中,對這美麗的野池做最後的巡禮。

望著這些即將被毀滅的池塘與形形色色的各種生物,我不禁要問:「何時我們才會珍惜自己擁有的?何時人類才會學到尊重大自然、尊重生命?如果我們生活的環境變得醜陋不堪,我們的水不再澄清、天空不再湛藍;空氣充滿惡臭、耳中盡是噪音,我不知道文明的定義究竟為何……?」

〔圖片說明〕

P.117

為了灌溉,客家先民在桃園台地開鑿了無數的池塘,它不只滋潤著農田,形成美麗清幽的景觀,也是許許多多水生動植物的天堂。

P.118

紅冠水雞是沼塘的主人之一。

P.118

在一片行將乾涸的濕地,有近百種的水生植物在這裡殘存苟活,其中不乏珍稀植物。水杉菜以及烏蘇里聚藻就是一例。

P.120

草花蛇是在沼澤濕地活動的蛇類。

P.121

全世界只有一屬一種的田蔥。

P.122

這是日本學者發現的植物,但顏聖紘發現它被誤認為其他種植物,有必要重新命名。它的葉片有紫蘇的芳香。

P.122

小雨蛙的鳴叫,使濕地熱鬧非凡。

P.123

在這被掩埋的沼地一角堙A顏聖紘發現了數種殘存的珍稀植物。

相關文章

近期文章

EN

The Last Pilgrimage

Hsu Jen-hsiu /photos courtesy of Hsu Jen-hsiu /tr. by Jonathan Barnard

Amid the sound of bulldozers, I have made my last pilgrimage to this beautiful wild pond. Why is it that we wait until times like these to treasure what we should have treasured all along?

 


In the hills of Longtan, there is a small pond hidden among the bamboo wind breaks in lush surroundings, where the trees on the banks stretch their green tentacles out above the water. The secluded pond is as flat as a mirror, and only rarely does a gust of cool wind passing through the woods wrinkle the white clouds and blue sky of the northern Taiwan summer day reflected on its surface. Soon the ripples subside, and it once again reflects the clear Formosan sky.

In a single pool, the life is boundless: At the edge of the pond, near the grass on the banks, grow a cluster of plants floating on the water like water lilies--Nuphar shimadai, whose flowers are golden yellow. Bursting forth from the green leaves, the beautiful flowers make the pool seem as if it is the abode of some nymph, far away from the world of men.

In this clear water, paradise fish surface from among the reeds, using bubbles to make their nests. The resplendent color of their scales and beautiful long fins can entrance even the least aesthetically minded.

Some yellow and black dragonflies chase each other along the green banks. Several tiny demoiselles rest and alight among the yellow flowers of Nuphar shimadai. Occasionally, a beautiful and brightly colored Precis lightly skims over the water's surface across to the opposite bank. These little creatures make this small pond a site of great life and activity.

In the cool shade of the bank, I sit intoxicated with the beauty of the scenery and am greatly moved by these species unique to Taiwan. In this small pool, I get a glimpse of the original face of Formosa--"the beautiful isle."

But Yen Sheng-hong, a 19-year-old sophomore studying entomology at Chunghsin University, can see deeper levels of significance.

Combing the island: Out on a hike eight years ago a child of eleven, he became entranced with the wonder of water plants and began researching the varieties on Taiwan.

Year after year, when not in school, he went all over the island to find marshes and swamps where he could collect and observe. He went on numerous treks in the wild with Dr. Yang Yuan-po, a water plant specialist, and his parents bought him reference books and gave him subscriptions to various foreign plant magazines. Now, he is one of only a few who understand much about Taiwan's marshes and swamps.

By the side of this small and beautiful pool, he introduced me to many plants unique to Taiwan as well as some exotically named species from abroad--even plants from remote wild regions, such as the Blyxa japonica, Rotala indica, Myriophyllum ussuriense. . . .

These plants are all interesting in their own ways. Usually found in the temperate zone, most of them were brought from abroad by migratory birds like the quillwort and the Sparganium fallax.

Their taking root in the subtropical environment of Taiwan has greatly startled international botanists. Among them are plants found at their southern most geographical limit:

The Nuphar shimadai is especially noteworthy because it belongs to temperate zone family of water plants found mostly in North America and the northern parts of the Eurasian land mass. Taiwan's variety, Nuphar shimadai, represents the southern limit of the family's range, a keepsake the island took from the glacial epoch. What makes it remarkable is that very few areas of the world have unique species of water plants. As a species unique to the island, Nuphar shimadai has attracted the attention of international scholars.

Where are all the adults? Just as I was becoming intoxicated with the pride I felt for the glory of Formosa, loud noises jarred me from my state of enrapture. The noises came from behind the wind breaks on the opposite bank. Yen told me that the bulldozers were hurrying to finish work on a major construction project.

With helpless resignation, he said, "This pond is near its end. In a few days the bulldozers will fill in the pond, and the beauty of all of these plants will be no more.

The pond's tragic fate touched me deeply, bringing tears to my eyes. There are so many beautiful spots on this island that we destroy before we have a chance to discover them. For even so large a construction project, no investigation was made to determine how much special scenery would be destroyed or how many unique plant species would be uprooted.

I remember several years ago, when France was building a famous high-speed railway line, biologists discovered that one stretch of the line would obstruct a unique species of frog from returning to swamps where it mated and propagated. Eventually, for the sake of this group of frogs, the track was elevated at an expense of tens of millions of francs.

Such a concern for nature truly displays a nation's culture and civilization.

At the edge of the construction, Yen was constantly rescuing precious species of water plants about to be buried. As I saw him grabbing, pulling and taking photographs in the already half-buried wetlands, I couldn't help but be moved. Why was it that a kid like this was willing to fight a struggle he knew he would lose? Where were his elders?

Beautiful ponds--bulldozed and awaiting sale: Anticipated prosperity has wreaked even more destruction than actual construction projects. Looking forward to sales, citizens of the villages and townships along the edge of this construction project have drained or filled wetlands and ponds that had existed there for centuries. Even beautiful ponds like the one I have described cannot get listed as protected areas.

In a pond which is almost dry in the vicinity of Yangmei, I photographed the well-known Philydrum lanuginosum, Rotala hippuris, Limnophila trichophylla Kamarou, Microcaipaea minima, and a plant which I playfully called "Yen water basil." One can see how abundant the water plants in this pond are.

Looking day by day at the ever-dryer pond and the ever-closer factories, I knew that the pond's days were numbered--just like the 15 ponds within a square kilometer which had already been filled in.

While Taiwan is a small island, there are some 50 families and over 200 species of water plants. Currently, more than 80 species are endangered. To take the five native species of water lily as an example, Euryale ferox, Nymphaea tetragona, and Nymphaea lotus var. phbescens have long been extinct, and Brasenia schreberi is also endangered. Only Nuphar shimadai is still hanging on in a few old ponds in Taoyuan.

As for the hard-to-find drosera indica, in the few inches of wetlands still remaining at the edge of the construction, Yen found only a few dry "corpses."

Bone dry: Although the ecology of wetlands and ponds is more fragile than the forest ecology to begin with, it is also easier to protect. It's just that it is usually overlooked or even regarded as unimportant.

The Nanjen Mountain swamps and wetlands of Kenting National Park were originally a large expanse of beautiful wetlands where various water plants grew in abundance. In the past, Yen could find some new species brought to Taiwan by Anatidae ducks virtually every year. But ever since work began on a nearby major construction project, wetlands have been lost as countless water plants have disappeared into the mouths of the grass carp and the number of migratory birds have gradually declined as well. And this tale of demise took place in the only wetlands found in a protected area.

At this moment, amid the sound of bulldozers, I am making my last pilgrimage to this pond in the wild. Looking at the soon-to-be-destroyed pool and the colorful abundance of life in and around it, I can't help but ask, "When will we treasure what we have? When will humanity learn to respect nature and life? When our environment becomes an ugly abomination, when our water is clear no longer, our sky never blue again, when our air is permeated with smog and our ears are ringing from the ever-present clamor, how will we go about defining civilization?"

[Picture Caption]

For irrigation, the Hakka pioneers in the Taoyuan Tableland dug numerous ponds, which have not only provided water for the fields and beautiful scenery but have also served as islands of paradise for numerous species of water plants.

Gallinula chloropus is one of the lords of this pond.

In a pond that will soon be filled, more than 100 species of water plants--many quite rare--struggle for survival.

The piscator is a species of water snake.

The species Phylidrum lanuginosum is the only member of its class.

This is a plant discovered by Japanese scholars, but Yen Sheng-hong realized that it was misidentified as another plant. It needs a new name.

The call of the little Hyla arborea rings through the wetlands.

In this corner of a pond that has already been filled, Yen discovered several rare plants barely hanging on.

 

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