Spanning across 177 kilometers, with an elevation of 3,952 meters, and passing through four river basins and five forests in different climatic zones, the results of the first phase of the first national greenway in southern Taiwan, the " Mountain to Sea National Greenway", have now been produced after the hard work and efforts of the relevant units since its conception. The Forestry Bureau held the Mountain to Sea National Greenway Results Presentation Conference at the Taikang Cultural Center today (December 10th), and announced that they will be collaborating with 13 different organizations and relevant local communities to establish the " Mountain to Sea National Greenway". The hiking bloggers and writers "TaiTai LIVE WILD" were invited to the conference to share their experiences on a trial hike, and unveil their first impression video.
Retracing the Path of History and the Dream of the Greenway that Began with the Community
The Tainan Community University Taijiang Campus launched the "Homeland Protection and Water Conservation - Jianan Irrigation Waterways Retracing History Activity" in 2007, and announced that the activity involved "history, historical sites, sceneries, and ecological habitats". It received support from the Tainan City Government, and the "Tainan Mountain to Sea Greenway" was established and completed in 2016. Extending from Taijiang National Park in Annan District to Wusantou Reservoir in Guantian District, the 45-kilometer walking and cycling path was the first long-distance route in Taiwan to use the term "Greenway", becoming the predecessor of the Mountain to Sea National Greenway.
For many years, the Taijiang Campus has continued to call for the protection of the homeland and water conservation, and led the youth of Taijiang to retrace history and get to know their homeland by walking the path. In 2017, the area covered by this visionary project was further extended from the Taijiang Inland Sea and Jianan Irrigation Waterways upwards to the original homeland of the Tsou people and Jade Mountain. After many years of initiatives and planning by the communities and local governments, the National Development Council drafted the "Outline for the Construction of a National Greenway Network Plan" in 2018, officially listing the "Mountain to Sea National Greenway" as a prioritized plan for national greenways. The Forestry Bureau of the Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan has been appointed as the main project leader to consolidate the relevant organizations and local governments, and formulate plan progress.
Today, former deputy minister of the National Development Council Tseng Shu-cheng, and the executive director of the Tainan Community University Taijiang Campus, Wu Mao-cheng, who were both key promoters of this policy, were invited to the results conference to deliver remarks and encourage all organizations to actively cooperate with each other and engage in cross-regional integration, and together respond and implement this community-initiated cultural movement.
From the Tall Mountains to Wide Seas, Take a Walk Down the Path of Taiwan's Multi-Ethnic History
Based on the existing "Tainan Mountain to Sea Greenway", the "Mountain to Sea National Greenway" extends eastward from Wusantou Reservoir, crossing Wushanling to Tsengwen Dam via the east and west sluice gate hiking routes, then follows Zengwen River to Alishan, and arriving at Jade Mountain. It spans Tainan City and Chiayi County, with an overall length of 177 kilometers, and a maximum elevation of 3,952 meters.
Lin Hao-chen, Deputy Director General of the Forestry Bureau, said in her remarks that Mountain to Sea National Greenway represents important value of Taiwan in terms of time and space. In terms of time, Mountain to Sea National Greenway is a historical space where early people, the Dutch, Qing period, and Japanese settled Taiwan from prehistorical times, to the present. The indigenous Tsou and Siraya peoples, and Han ethnic groups gathered and co-existed here. It is also a multi-cultural stage, and walking amongst it all is akin to experiencing a condensed version of Taiwan's 400 years of history. In addition, after the construction of the Jianan Irrigation Waterways that crisscrossed the region, the Jianan Plain was able to implement a three-year crop rotation system, turning it into a fertile land, which further demonstrated the outstanding achievements of Taiwan's hydraulic engineering and agricultural modernization.
In terms of space, this greenway spans the urban and countryside areas of two counties and cities, and is part of the local administration borders of ten townships and districts. With regard to the central administration, it passes through three national scenic areas, two national parks, two forest areas (Chiayi and National Taiwan University Experimental Forest), two reservoirs (Wusantou Reservoir and Tsengwen Dam), and the water resource management areas of four major rivers (Yanshui River, Zengwen River, Gaoping River, and Zhoshui River). In terms of the environment, it includes the diversified natural ecological systems of forests in five different climate zones, and four types of water bodies. It connects Taiwan's natural environment as a whole, where the changing landscapes of coasts, plains, hills, and mountains bring a rich ecological experience.
Cross-Domain Visionary Project Jointly Driven by 13 Public and Private Agencies
The Forestry Bureau further explained that such a long greenway is a great challenge to the coordination ability of government departments in cross-domain governance. Furthermore, it also requires the continuous participation of the local communities, using public-private partnership to develop the operations and management mechanisms of the greenway.
Therefore, the Forestry Bureau entrusted the planning organization and the Taiwan Thousand Miles Trail Association (TMI Trail), which has long been involved in promoting the trail network around the island, to jointly participate in the planning of the Mountain to Sea National Greenway. Furthermore, on July 22 and 23, 2019, the "Mountain to Sea National Greenway Cross-Department Consensus Camp" was organized to consolidate the development consensus of the various agencies, and it received the support of the National Development Council, Tainan City Government, and Chiayi County Government. The relevant organizations also held a preparatory meeting on October 24 and the promotion platform was officially established on November 21. The platform can serve as a cross-department coordination and division mechanism for the various tasks related to this greenway, and gradually implement related work through regular meetings. After the establishment of the promotion platform, the greenway route has already been defined. In the future, the promotion agencies will work together to set up common identification markers, formally complete the entire route, and jointly promote this meaningful visionary project.
In addition, the Forestry Bureau also commissioned TMI Trail, National Chiayi University, and the local communities to join in partnership, and they organized three DIY trail activities that took place in December 2018, May 2019, and November 2019. Enthusiastic volunteers were called upon to help clean up the Wushanling east and west sluice gate hiking routes together, and the people used their hands to make a series of heartwarming contributions to the linking of the Mountain to Sea National Greenway. For the third DIY trail activity, special guests, North Carolina State Parks' trail planner Smith Raynor and deputy director Carol Tingley, as well as Kambona Oscar Ouma, who currently holds a teaching post at Maseno University in Kenya and serves as a tourism and protected area expert at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), were invited to witness the event and share their development experience of long-distance trails around the world.
Trials Hikes with Celebrities, Coming into Direct Contact with Mountain to Sea National Greenway
At this results conference, the various organizations involved with the route jointly announced and promoted the linking of the 177 kilometer route, by simulating the path that retraces history from the sea to the mountain and planting flags in a relay race-like manner. At the same time, the conference venue displayed the Mountain to Sea National Greenway route map, as well as old photos and stories along the route. The Forestry Bureau also specially invited Taiwan 's international long-distance hiking blogger and writer couple, TaiTai LIVE WILD, to share their experience of the trial hike of the entire route that they completed in 7 days and 6 nights. The scenery they saw, and the tales of the local places and people have also been recorded in the first Mountain to Sea National Greenway impression film "The Road Retracing History from the Coast to the Mountains" that was released on the same day.
The Forestry Bureau said that currently around the world, there are already long-distance greenway development experiences from the East Coast Greenway in the U.S. and the Shikoku Pilgrimage in Japan and domestically, there are two national greenways in the country: Tamshui-Kavalan Historical and Cultural Routes and Raknus Selu Trail. In addition to being the first national greenway in southern Taiwan, Mountain to Sea National Greenway is also the only greenway route that extends from the Taiwan Strait, starting at the Taijiang Inland Sea to the highest peak in Northeast Asia, Jade Mountain. It has the greatest altitude difference and it is also the only route to trace the history along rivers and canals based on the flow of the river, which has profound natural and cultural significance. The results conference is just the beginning. In the future, the various departments can gradually establish recognition and consensus, facilitate cooperation and action, and promote the diversified development of local communities and mountain villages. Members of the public from home and abroad are also invited to take part in the most authentic "Taiwan Experience" by exploring this route that extends from the sea to the mountains.