In order to conserve wetland ecosystem and its endemic species, the Forestry Bureau and the Environmental Ethics Foundation of Taiwan (EEFT) began counseling farmers in New Taipei City's Gongliao District to work on the environment with traditional technology and ideology that coexist with nature. The Bureau has invited documentary director Lee Wei-jie, who is a Golden Bell Awards winner for Best Cinematography, to shoot a documentary film named The Hoe-Hoe (eco-crop) Chronicles. The EEFT and the Monghoho Barn Society redesigned and published the Landscape Book. Local farmer Xiao Chun-yi donated his ancestral half-stone half-mudbrick farmhouse to be restored brick by brick in the hands of neighbors who still possess the traditional skills of mudbrick building. The restored farmhouse was then redecorated by Jigsaw Puzzle Studio and was namedHoe-Hoe Field-side Farmhouse. The farmhouse opened its doors on Jan. 20, 2015 and is tasked with educating the public on the subject of water terrace rehabilitation. However, the refurbished building still retains a patch of the original earth floor as a testament to the successful rehabilitation of Gongliao's water terrace.
At the Gongliao water terrace, the Hoe-Hoe Production Unit comprised of 10 farmers and formed by the Monghoho Barn Society, has proven in 4 years that farmlands not only produce food but also sustain biodiversity, regulate water resources, and support marine production. The entire project has been gathering supports and exchanges from the public for local conservation through the Conservation Partner program, friendly agro-product purchase, and participation in educational trip packages such as the Hoe-Hoe Tour and the Hoe-Hoe Deep Breath. Furthermore, the Field-side Farmhousehas just been inaugurated by officials of the Forestry Bureau and farmers of the production unit as they ceremonially rammed the patch of original earth floor. The documentary film The Hoe-Hoe Chronicles was shown at the event as the Landscape Book is being published. All of these efforts aim to gather more support and raise awareness for environmental conservation.
The project marks the beginning of cooperation with privately owned farmlands in the name of ecological service and special habitat conservation. For 4 years the Forestry Bureau and the EEFT have discovered life networks which connect water terraces to forests and river mouths. After the effort of encouraging locals to employ traditional farming methods, now more than 500 species enjoy and share a habitat which has become a safe haven for 16 threatened species. The habitat has also contributed as an ecological corridor for migratory organisms dwelling in the area, and expanded the water conserving area of the terraces. This particular case study has been incorporated into the International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative (IPSI) launched by the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS).
The word "Hoe-Hoe" means the capability of supporting ecological crop farming from the social responsibility called "eating". It also hopes to find back once more the deeply interdependent relationship between each one of us, the land, the farmers, and every organism. In addition to producing eco-friendly rice, the production unit has been promoting land value recognition and environmental education preached by Satoyama with the help of the EEFT. In 2014 the Hoe-Hoe Production Unit developed the True Water ecology lesson plan in cooperation with Gongliao Junior High School. Furthermore, it has carried out 10 rounds of Hoe-Hoe Tour explaining the interaction between humans and the environment. It also offers 5 different sets of Hoe-Hoe Deep Breath eco-experience open for group reservation. In order for visitors to better understand the environmental functions hidden behind the beautiful appearances of water terraces, Xiao Chun-yi of the production unit decided to donate his nearly abandoned ancestral farmhouse as information center. A group of dedicated locals began to restore the farmhouse from memory assisted by the AVEDA Company's Water Environment Education Program. The project, which involves the cooperation between public and private sectors, is indeed a new milestone in conservation industry. In the future, this Field-side Farmhouse will regularly open from Friday to Sunday and serve as Hoe-Hoe activity center.
In order to achieve the sustainability of conservation industry as well as conservation promotion activities outside of the abovementioned area, the documentary film The Hoe-Hoe Chronicles produced by Lee Wei-jie and Fan Chin-hui complemented by the concise Landscape Book are published this year for that purpose. The film invites viewers to answer the calls of the farmers to interact with nature. It also shows the colorful life bustling in the forests and rivers as well as the participation of both local and non-local young people who bring out the true spirit of Hoe-Hoe in these villages. In the film, we see the vivid footage of crab-eating mongoose moving freely between paddy fields. The Monghoho Barn Society, who took the mongoose as its official mascot, invites everyone to visit the mascot and exchange good wishes for this land. The Forestry Bureau and the EEFT would like to ask the visitors to respect the boundaries and the privacies of local farmers and not to trespass into the fields. For all eco tours and visits, contact the only representative: The Monghoho Barn Society. By participating in these eco tours, not only do visitors make a significant contribution to the environment, but also help economically to the production unit in their conservation effort.
For more information, please visit: The Monghoho Barn Society Facebook page and blog, as well as the Gongliao Water Terrace blog.
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