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December 2019

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A Fine Sword Eight Years in the Making - Upgrading the National Nature Park

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A Fine Sword Eight Years in the Making

Upgrading the National Nature Park

Interviewee /Chi-Yuan Hong (Director of Shoushan National Nature Park Preparatory Office)Shu-kuo Hsu (Deputy Director of Marine National Park Headquarters, Former secretary of houshan National Nature Park Preparatory Office )Article / Hui-Ying Lui Photo / National Nature Park Headquarters Upgrading the National Nature Park

Scenery of Qihoushan
Scenery of Qihoushan

The Bottom-up Movement

Shoushan National Nature Park, adjacent to the Greater Kaohsiung Metropolitan Area, covers an area of more than 1,122 hectares of forests, and the natural wonders and cultural richness are amazing, including uplifted coral reefs, karst limestone, the Dabenkeng Archaeological Site, and relics of the Pingpu people in Makata, etc. However, this gem of forest and cultural resources was once dulled by limestone mining in the area; the mountainous landscape of Banping Mountain witnessed the years of the dusty mines and barren mountains. Eight years ago, the Shoushan National Natural Park Preparatory Office was established and began its hard work to implement local natural conservation. Comparing the past with the present, one can feel more acutely the difficulty to protect the nature. Finally, at the end of this year, the National Natural Park Headquarters will be officially unveiled, and the size and authority of the organization will be upgraded, becoming the future authority for the national natural park affairs across Taiwan. The new badges on the shoulders of our colleagues symbolize a long and meaningful mission ahead. With the heart of cherishing our home, our colleagues will continue to work together to carry out the future.

In 1992, a group of insightful people who had long been concerned about the natural and cultural development of Chaishan (i.e. Shoushan ) established the "Chaishan Natural Park Promotion Association" and issued a declaration to gather civilian strength and called on the government to attach importance to the conservation of Chaishan.The association has received support from conservation and education groups as well as NGOs. Through the support of the former mayors of Kaohsiung City, such as Mr. Den-Yih Wu and Ms. Chu Chen and their recommendations to the central government, the establishment of a national-level Shoushan Natural Park was confirmed in 2009. In the process, the association had communicated with expert s , scholars, local conservation groups and representatives of public opinion and conducted on-site surveys, in-depth interviews, and resource research. The blueprint for the National Nature Park has gradually taken shape.

In 2010, the Legislative Yuan reviewed and approved the revision of some provisions of the "National Park Law", which became the legal basis for the establishment of the "Shoushan National Natural Park.”Finally, with the active assistance of the Kaohsiung City Government in 2011, the “Preparation Office of the Shoushan National Natural Park” under the Ministry of the Interior’s Construction and Planning Agency began to operate. The birth of the Shoushan National Natural Park is an important milestone in the history of ecological conservation in Taiwan. Working from the bottom up and from the private to the public sector through petitions, and the establishment of the "National Natural Park" legal status in the National Park Law gives Shoushan its extraordinary significance.

Love of the Land

The Shoushan National Nature Park has an annual visit volume of 2.5 million, 80% of which comes from the Greater Kaohsiung area, confirming its close connection with local life. Director Chi-Yuan Hong said that "we often receive suggestions from Kaohsiung citizens on issues such as the location of signposts or signs, the issuance and delivery of flyers, the setting of facilities and furniture, etc. They will express their needs and suggestions from the users’perspectives.” Chi-Yuan Hong recalled that when it was founded, Shoushan, widely regarded as the "back garden of Kaohsiung people", has more than 100 leisure spaces that various groups have established in private, creating messy scene.After years of local coordination and exercise of public power, a total of 106 illegal occupations were removed, the resulted improvement of various facilities is deeply felt by either tourists or local residents.

The other part of the efforts is the work of vegetation rehabilitation. Because of the limestone resources of the uplifted coral reefs, Shoushan had been the mining ground for ash stones and vermiculite since the Qing Dynasty. After the Second World War, cement mining was in full swing in response to Taiwan's construction needs. After the mining rights of many cement companies such as Taiwan Cement, Southeast Cement and Jiantai Cement had expired, the Ministry of Economic Affairs responded to the local demands for environmental conservation and decided to terminate all mining rights in 1992. The Kaohsiung City Government supervised the operators to carry out vegetation rehabilitation in the mining area. Because the soil layer is shallow, re-cultivation work was not easy. The conservation focused on pioneer species with strong growth and drought tolerance. After its establishment the Shoushan National Natural Park took over the work, and also reviewed the original greening tree species. It is hoped that the vegetation plant via artificial rehabilitation in the future will reflect the local ecology and ecological diversity.

Shoushan National Nature Park has many wonderful cultural resources (Old Zuoying City is seen in this photo)
Shoushan National Nature Park has many wonderful cultural resources (Old Zuoying City is seen in this photo).
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