Tuesday, September 27, 2011

For years the Ministry of Transport and Communications has wanted to fill in that section of wild coast, the last remaining section in Taiwan, with a shiny new paved road to connect the broken ends of Highway 26. The environmental impact assessment for the road itself was approved back in 2002 but so far the project has remained uncompleted. Taiwan Today collects a rare article critical of government policy, discussing the impacts of the proposed road.....
Local academics urged the government Sept. 26 to reconsider a highway construction project that threatens to destroy an ancient trail along Taiwan’s southeast coast.

“The Alangyi Ancient Trail should be designated a nature reserve because of its historical and ecological importance to Taiwan,” David Chang, professor of geography at National Taiwan University, said at a news conference in Taipei, where a petition signed by more than 700 academics was presented.

The trail, along what has been dubbed “the last remaining stretch of natural coastline in Taiwan,” connects Anshuo in Taitung County and Xuhai in Pingtung County.

According to scholars, the trail should undergo only minimal development, as it is home to several species of fauna and flora unique to Taiwan and a witness to historic exchanges between indigenous groups, Han Chinese and foreign forces. It also preserves a trove of geographical evidence of climate change in southern Taiwan.

Controversy has surrounded the development project since it was proposed in 2002 to complete Taiwan’s round-island road network by linking Anshuo and Xuhai with an extension of Provincial Highway 26.
In addition to the destruction caused by the road itself, it will also bring in other infrastructure, such as shops and houses. In February the Pingtung County government declared the trail a local landmark, which blocked construction until Jan 1, 2012. The current plan is to "preserve" nature by putting in tunnels and reducing the road impact, but the road is still going through. The one immutable law of Taiwan politics is: Thou shalt not stand between a developer and his money. In recognition of this, the EPA official in the article noted that the plan is already completed and only the developer can stop the project now.

REF: Video of bikers on the Alangyi Ancient Trail. Wish they had invited me!
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English Teacher Guy said...

That is basically the very last stretch of wild coastline in the country. What is it equivalent to -maybe 5% of The coast (not counting outlaying islands)? If we cannot conserve 5% of the coast, then what kind of country are we? Same thing with the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. One tiny piece of the coast ought to be preserved.

David on Formosa said...

The one immutable law of Taiwan politics can also be rephrased as "He who pours the most concrete wins."

Denver flyer said...

I visited the Alangyi Ancient Trail several years ago with some friends, and it was such an incredibly beautiful place. I'm so sorry to hear that it will be destroyed...

English Teacher Guy said...

I think you nailed it, David.

Anonymous said...

At least the remaining coastline from Nanren to Jialeshui and the Kenting's littoral forests will remained undeveloped. Obviously this point of view isn't shared by the authors of the preceding posts, but I've always been impressed by the amount of land that is protected by forest regulations. It may seem hard to believe, but forest preservation zones stretch uninterrupted from Wulai to Taichung! This is not an insignificant accomplishment given the constant pressure to open more land to development.

BTW, there are other undeveloped coastal areas around the island:


Anonymous said...

Ma is giving his KMT travel business friends a big favor enabling them to bring-in their big buses full of Chinese tourists to the last bastion of Taiwan's pristine trail.

While they reap profits the Taiwanese people will only be left with a damaged ecosystem forever like Ali Shan.

Jason Tung

English Teacher Guy said...

Anonymous 1: where is the "coast" of Wulai? Isn't Wulai in the northern section of Taiwan's central mountains near Xindian, and nowhere near the coast???

Anonymous said...

David, same can be said of Japan, even more so: ''The one immutable law of Japanese pork barrel politics can also be rephrased as "He who pours the most concrete wins."

Japan is all concreted over. So don't just blame Taiwan. It's an Asian thing. Money talks. In Western countries. stop pointing fingers. your own country is terrible too.

See JM Cole oped in TT today to see how expats should react.

Michael Turton said...

See JM Cole oped in TT today to see how expats should react.

I think you've missed Cole's point rather badly. David is describing, not prescribing, and not to a local audience either.


les said...

Forest reserves and national parks only protect places noone yet wants to develop. Kenting is a national park and look at the mess that has become. Like any contract here, when the price is right the paper is worthless.