National Forest Recreation Areas Our policy
Taiwan joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2002. That made it necessary to reorganize domestic agriculture to allow greater competition and to pursue higher environmental standards. That year, the Foresty Bureau began to promote the ‘Plains Landscape Reforestation and Beautification Program’ to release farmland for new purposes.
Under this plan, the Bureau offers subsidies and guidance to farmers interested in regenerating forests. Until now, over 20,000 hectares (about 20,000 baseball or soccer fields) have been replanted with saplings and trees, an increase of 8.91m² of green land per capita. This green area can absorb 300,000 tonnes of CO2 (or 2,000 jumbo-jets’ fuel loads) per year. This helps reduce global warming and improves the local environment.
New forest parks
In 2008, the Foresty Bureau selected areas to develop new recreational forest parks. That way forests may serve more purposes, people will have extra options for recreation, and the economy can develop new sustainable activitiy.
These selected forest areas all have a rich habitat and beautiful landscapes. They are located below altitudes of 500m, and are at least 1,000 hectares (or 1,000 baseball or soccer fields) in size. They are easily accessible and are close to other recreational locations.
In 2009, the Bureau selected Danongdafu (Masadi) in Hualien County, the Aogu Wetlands in Chiayi County and Housilin in Pingtung County. These areas belong to Taiwan Sugar Corporation and overall planning was completed by late 2010.
Danongdafu organic rice paddies
These forest parks are all different and therefore the planning for each one has been based on its unique features. For example, the appeal of Masadi lies in the organic rice grown in lovely paddies in the unique Rift Valley landscape. This area is being developed as a LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) recreational area, and is accessible by the Huadong slow train. This recreational area will focus on recreation, organic production, environmental healing and sustainable cultural development in the Rift Valley.
The landscape in the Aogu Wetland Forest Park consists of wetlands, sandbars, fish farms, plantations and farmland. The Council of Agriculture has designated the Aogu Wetlands an important wildlife habitat protected by law and is working to secure international wetland status. The wetlands are being developed as an area for environmental education and conservation work and may also serve as a showcase for other coastal forests on the same latitude as the Tropic of Cancer.
The Linhousi Forest Park has a working old railroad track and stations, and is close to the Neishe trailhead of the ‘Kunlun Pass Trail.’ This area is being developed as a low-altitude forest, an ecological park designed to rebuild the natural environment of the Dawu Mountains and the plains below them.
Once all facilities have been completed, these forest parks will offer opportunities to the local communities to develop eco-tourism and outdoor recreation locations. This respects the environment and helps create local employment.
These forest parks will also be used for environmental education, so that visitors understand and respect the environment more, discover the local communities, and deepen their appreciation of nature and the circle of life. We do not just want to make the land greener, we hope to make people’s hearts greener as well!