This year's tree-planting activity was relocated to a sand binding protection forest at lot #1015 at Fuguijiao in Shimen District of New Taipei City. On April 12, vice president, Chen Chien-jen, led almost 50 officials from New Taipei City Government, Legislative Yuan, Executive Yuan, Judicial Yuan, Control Yuan and Examination Yuan to plant the indigenous Whole-leaf hawthorn while serenaded by flute performance from the students of Shimen Elementary School. The Forestry Bureau chose this northern-most point of Taiwan, where northeast monsoons make first landfall on the island, to signify the importance of rehabilitating protection forests on the coasts, our first line of “defense” against natural hazards.
The Forestry Bureau said that there are 11 types of protection forests. In coastal regions, the forests form a “green wall” to reduce damage caused by corrosive winds and tides, while balancing the fishery sector and enriching the ecosystem. There are nearly 14,000 hectares of protection forests on the coastlines of Taiwan. Although this is a mere 3% in the total of 460,000 hectares protection forests on the island, these protection forests play a vital role in land security and agricultural development, assuring the stability of coastal residents' daily life and livelihood. They are quite literally the first line of natural defense for Taiwan.
The Forestry Bureau explained that the Whole-leaf hawthorn planted by vice president Chen and his entourage is an indigenous species of the North Coast. It is resistant to salinization, droughts and strong winds. Its flowers and fruits also attract insects, birds and mammals, which helps to increase biodiversity along the coasts.
The Forestry Bureau emphasized that protection forests are functional plantations. For the sake of social welfare, their usage and development must be strictly managed in order to reach full potential in conservation of soil and water and protection against natural hazards.
In order to strengthen the building and rehabilitation of protection forests, the Forestry Bureau and its 8 district offices planted more than 10,000 trees native to the coastline regions in the traditional tree-planting month of March this year in the protection forests they are in charge of, in order to repair gaps in existing protection forests and further safeguard the ecosystem against climate change when coastline green belts tare formed.
The Forestry Bureau indicated that the Paris Agreement under the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change passed on December 12th, 2015 took effect on November 4th, 2016. The aim is to reduce the impact of climate change and hold the increase in annual global average temperature to less than 2 degrees by 2100. Taiwan has decided to reduce carbon emission by 50% before 2030. Afforestation plays a major role in reducing carbon emissions and achieving carbon fixation goals.
The Forestry Bureau added that, according to the 4th nation-wide forestry survey held in 2015, total green forests in Taiwan (including Kinmen and Lianjiang Counties) have reached 2,197,000 hectares, covering 60.71% of land, which is a 2.18% increase (approximately 80,000 hectares) compared to 58.53% in 1993. The Forestry Bureau will continue to encourage the private sector, including businesses and groups, to participate in long-term afforestation, making Taiwan an island of forests again.
About the protection forests:
Taiwan has 525 protection forests, covering 460,000 hectares of land. They are classified into 11 functional categories, including water conservation forests, soil conservation forests, sand binding forests, windbreaks, landscape forests, tidal prevention forests, flood control forests, fishery forests, rockslide prevention forests, health care forests, and nature conservation forests. Of which, water conservation forests and soil conservation forests are the most sizeable. Protection forests contribute multiple advantages to social welfare and are even able to stabilize our living environment as long as they maintain good coverage of land.