In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the world. It impacted us and made us reflect on many aspects, including the risk of over-reliance on imports. Timber, once a strategic resource and a daily necessity for people, is a clear example of this. The advantages of using Taiwan's plantation forests include not only the self-supply of timber and bamboo, but also multiple benefits such as recycling, carbon footprint reduction, and industrial development promotion. Revitalization of the long-dormant plantation forests of Taiwan for sustainable management requires participation by everyone. At 14:00 this afternoon (Aug. 23), the Forestry Bureau held an exchange seminar under the theme of "Domestic Timber in the Post-Pandemic Era" at NOW Coffee in Zhongzheng District, Taipei City. Experts in the wood industry, design, and the crafts, as well as academics and competent authorities were invited to share their ideas with the public from the perspectives of supply, demand, and planning, respectively, in the hope of moving together toward a sustainable future for Taiwan's plantation forest management.
The discussion took place between Yao Jen-Kuan, head of the Technique Section, National Taiwan Craft Research and Development Institute (NTCRI); Chang Wei-I, head of the Reforestation and Production Division, Forestry Bureau; Professor Yang Te-Hsin of National Chung Hsing University; as well as representatives from the design industry: Hsu Chen-Hao, Chaiwood Co., Ltd. and Chang Cheng-Kai, designer at Forest Lifestyle; and industry representatives: Sen Hsin Industrial Co., Ltd., a domestic timber manufacturer, and Hu Shu-Chong from NOW Coffee (demonstration site). From different perspectives, they explored the current situation of domestic timber and the development of domestic timber in the post-pandemic era.
During the seminar, the Forestry Bureau elaborated on development strategies for the revitalization of plantation forestry in terms of resources, technology, regulations, and market. The Forestry Bureau continues to engage with society in order to provide stable sources of high-quality domestic timber for production or purchase by businesses, designers, and consumers, in order to revitalize the domestic forest products market. Hu Shu-Chong, designer of NOW Coffee—the domestic timber demonstration site, pointed out that the color and scent of the Taiwan cunninghamia meet the needs for planning of the whole space. Domestic timber has thus transformed from part of a distant forest into an everyday space, and from a lifeless technical term into a friendly neighbor.
The Forestry Bureau said that Taiwan is surrounded by the sea and has up to 60.71% forest cover, with a wealth of forest resources and diverse wood and bamboo species. Although productive plantation forests account for 12%, or more than 290,000 hectares, Taiwanese people rely almost entirely on imported wood and bamboo materials for their everyday products. The sustainable management model of productive plantation forestry consists in providing for our daily needs through planned harvesting and immediate reforestation, just like the production of crops. The afforestation, logging, and reforestation process not only provides better carbon sequestration and maintains the use of forest land, but also protects natural forests and their ecological environment by meeting market demand. Therefore, the Forestry Bureau has been actively promoting the diversified application of domestic timber in recent years, hoping that people in Taiwan will learn about and utilize the timber and bamboo produced in Taiwan's plantation forests as well as their various products, thereby revitalizing Taiwan's wood and bamboo industry.
To promote the use of domestic timber, the Forestry Bureau has been working with NTCRI on the Forest Lifestyle project since 2020, which aims to enhance the use of domestic timber and bamboo through craft design and cultural transmission. At the end of 2020, the project held the exhibition Forest Lifestyle—A Feast from the Forest, which showcased the works of six designers who used Taiwan's diverse wood and bamboo materials to design products that can be used in people's day-to-day. This year, the project also brought domestic timber to commercial spaces, and the second floor of NOW Coffee near Taipei City's North Gate (Beimen) has become the Forest Lifestyle—Domestic Timber Demonstration Site, giving people the opportunity to come in contact with and get to know domestic timber in their daily consumer behavior.
The Forestry Bureau said that it hopes the collaboration with NTCRI and designers can demonstrate the diverse possibilities of domestic timber through craft techniques and design. Creativity and the use of different media can turn local culture and natural materials into unique spaces, so that each work can be made with the aim of realizing micro mass production. It is also hoped that the domestic timber works made with local materials will have the opportunity to enter the international market in the future as high-value products to demonstrate Taiwan's soft power, instead of just being sold as raw materials, so that domestic timber craftsmanship can achieve the goal of "the more local, the more international".