Today (8th) is the 10th anniversary of Typhoon Morakot. The Forestry Bureau, National Pingtung University of Science and Technology (NPUST), and the related communities shared their work results across the Provincial Highway 24 to Shiba Luohan Mountain. Over the past decade, the tribal communities along Provincial Highway 24 in Sandimen Township and Wutai Township, Pingtung, combined the local strength with resources and assistance from industry, government, and academia, and developed the uniquely local “Satoyama Deep Economy”, based on the Satoyama Initiative as the guiding principles. It incorporates the environment, indigenous culture, and industry for co-existence and co-prosperity, in order to attract the youth to return to their hometown and join the ranks of sustainable local community development.
At today's press conference, members of the communities, work teams, and assisting academics came all the way to Taipei and gathered together to look back on the hard work over the past ten years. Lavuras Abaliwsu (Bao Ji-cheng), chairperson of the Kadaenganeta ka Ngungadrekai (Rukai National Assembly) said emotionally that the storms of Morakot’s was like taking a very long bath, through this baptism, the tribe has grown even stronger. Typhoon Morakot severely damaged tribal communities along Provincial Highway 24, which was followed by the loss of tribal culture and population. Once these tribes neighboring the national forests disappear from the map, precious mountain and forest resources, traditional Rukai culture, rituals, and knowledge might never return again. Therefore, since 2010, based on the international spirit for the promotion of the Satoyama Initiative, the Forestry Bureau entered into collaboration with the NPUST team led by Professor Chen Mei-hui and began the development of three environmentally-friendly local “deep economies” - “eco-tourism axis”, “agricultural circular economy”, and “Satoyama under-forest economy” - aided by resources from industry, government, and academia, and the cooperation from the community members. Using the value-added mode of sixth-sector industrialization, young people are encouraged to return to their hometown and everyone can put in their share of work to boost the sustainable development of rural villages along Provincial Highway 24.
Liugui District in Kaohsiung, also ravaged by the same typhoon disaster, has forged their own path with the assistance of the Forestry Bureau plan. Incorporating the guided tours of the Shiba Luohan Mountain Forest Reserve, the resourceful farmers and community workers have successfully developed themed tourism itineraries as a part of the local industry. Across Provincial Highway 24 to Shiba Luohan Mountain, the achievements of the Satoyama Deep Economy over the decade can now be witnessed. It can be said to be the predecessor to “placemaking”, not only has it revitalized the communities, it has also revitalized the environment, where the sustainable economic development of rural villages take care of the mountains and the wealth of forest products also take care of the communities.
Provincial Highway 24 Eco-Tourism: Rebirth of the Phoenix a Decade after Disaster
Looking back on the decade of Morakot’s post-disaster reconstruction, everything began with preserving the roots of the indigenous tribal communities. Take the case of the Adiri Tribal Community in Wutai Township, situated deep in the mountains along Provincial Highway 24. Although the disaster-affected residents relocated to Baihe Tribe Park in Changzhi on the plains, due to the importance that the tribal members placed on passing down the heritage of the Rukai culture, they still waited in the ancestral tribal community at the foot of Wutou Mountain during the non-flooding period and played a leading role in eco-tourism. They linked together Adiri and other tribal communities, including Labuwan, Kabalelradhane, Tukuvulj, and Tjavatjavang, to form an eco-tourism corridor along the Provincial Highway 24. This mode was also replicated for Pingtung’s County Highway 185 (Yanshan Highway) to promote the development of local eco-tourism.
In Wutai Township, another community where all residents returned to rebuild their village was Labuwan Tribal Community, not only do they possess the culturally-unique “Ngudradrekay” Rukai language system, they have also preserved 21 precious millet strains. Residents worked together to promote the re-cultivation of millet and djulis, as well as to cultivate a special medicinal crop “mountain dong quai” under the forest canopy. The community also participated in the conservation and breeding of Taiwan indigenous chickens under the brand of “Labuwan Forest Chicken”. Waste products from farming and animal husbandry, such as djulis stalks, are used as a medium in mushroom cultivation bags to grow mushrooms, creating a circular economy model for agroforestry.
According to the Forestry Bureau, the indigenous tribal communities are mostly located in mountainous areas and surrounded by forests. Not only must the agricultural production model adhere to the principle of environmental sustainability, but the types of crops are also different from flatland agriculture. In order to promote the currently advocated under-forest economy, first-stage efforts for positively listed species, such as marbled jewel orchids and forest beekeeping, by rural tribal communities are now underway in Sandimen Township and Wutai Township along the Provincial Highway 24. It is also hoped that through methods such as the research and development of forest product processing and value-added flexible use of indigenous culture, tribal members will be able to truly return to the forest and make good use of the forest. In addition, through managing the resources independently and comprehensively protecting the forest ecosystem, share the value of the forest ecosystem with the surrounding communities, just like the harmonious relationship between the Paiwan people and Rukai people with the forest over thousands of years.
Youth Business Taking Root, Enriching the Local Landscape
The “Satoyama Deep Economy” carried out along the national treasure Provincial Highway 24 has also created new opportunities for young people. Lin Chen-yi of Gadu Studio has set up a site next to Provincial Highway 24 since she was a student. Over the past ten years, she has developed eco-tourism travel experiences and activities based on the tribal culture. Chen Mo of Two-Shoulder AI Ecofoods Co., Ltd. incorporated Labuwan Forest Chicken with the latest blockchain technology to transmit the growth conditions of Wutai’s Labuwan chickens to remote consumers using remote connection. In addition to letting consumers learn about the growing environment of the chickens, it also records whether the daily activity of the chickens has reached 10,000 steps. Through the full disclosure of the information, the health condition of the “running chickens” is transmitted to the consumers, removing consumers’ doubts on the source and quality of the chickens. Better protection for the farmers' livelihood is also achieved through using the pre-order method. Liao Jin-yi, Yuansen Ecological Co., Ltd., is behind the promotion of the Sweet Forest project, leading the tribal community members to develop the under-forest beekeeping economy.
Paiwan female singer-songwriter Sauniaw Tjuveljevelj continues to record the ancient songs and music of the tribe, passing down the connection between people and the land through her songs. Her beautiful and deeply moving love songs include love for one’s family, for friends, for the land, and for all living creatures. In the eco-tours, the indigenous people often use music to express people’s emotions. The power of music to move and reach people adds to the experience of the eco-tours, while the music of the Paiwan and Rukai people can also be made known to a wider domestic and international audience through the eco-tours, which will in turn help visitors identify with their cultural value.
“Satoyama Deep Economy” Spreading and Flourishing from Wutai, Sandimen, to Liugui
The Satoyama Deep Economy has not only been taking shape in the village and tribal communities along Provincial Highway 24, its effects have also spread to the neighboring Shiba Luohan Mountain Forest Reserve in Liugui District, Kaohsiung City. Located on the bank of Laonong River, Liugui was also hard hit by Typhoon Morakot. After the disaster, Liugui also actively carried out various industry re-building activities, and cultivated resourceful and highly-skilled farmers and local community workers. The residents use the Satoyama Deep Economy as the new strategies and goals for placemaking development.
The Forestry Bureau said that the Shiba Luohan Mountain Forest Reserve has been selected as the operating base of Liugui, so that the outside world will think of Liugui when they come to Shiba Luohan Mountain. A commentator guide team for the Shiba Luohan Mountain Forest Reserve has been established and trained, and tour reservation for visitor entry is accepted. Arrangements will be made for entry into the protected area, where a commentator guide will be available to introduce the species in the area. It also includes the “Liugui Fun Times” guided itinerary, giving visitors an opportunity to experience the farm life in Liugui. Together it is all linked with Liugui’s sixth-sector industrialization development for the creation of a sustainable economy exclusive to Liugui.
The Forestry Bureau emphasized that the 10th anniversary is not the end destination, but a milestone. The road of rebuilding the tribal communities is about to enter the second stage, the experience and achievements accumulated in the first stage, as well as the young entrepreneurial teams that have been cultivated, are all essential components for the promotion of the work in the second stage. It is hoped that efforts can be continued to be put forth towards deepening the roots of the Satoyama Deep Economy for the development of the tribal communities, so that more tribal community members working on the plains can one day return to their ancestral homes on the mountain and come back to their homeland. Let what the storm took away then be gradually regained through the work of our hands.