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Preserving Taiwan's mountain ecology: Garbage a huge problem on Yushan

Yushan Park management asks for cooperation to reduce garbage on the mountain

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Hikers at the peak of Yushan

Hikers at the peak of Yushan (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan) - Pollution remains a problem on Taiwan's highest mountain Yushan, or Jade Mountain, the park management has declared. The national park's website stated that the amount of litter left by visitors has been increasing to unacceptable levels since 2014.

Yushan is the highest mountain in Taiwan as well as the highest mountain in Northeast Asia with its highest point at over 3,900 meters above sea level. It attracts an average of around one million visitors per year. Many of those visitors are also leaving behind an unnecessary amount of garbage when they visit.

Officials state that the accumulation of trash on the mountain has averaged around 250 kilograms per year, totaling over 1,057 kilograms since 2014. Taiwan would like to promote an image of being an environmentally conscious country, which makes such widespread littering in Taiwan's natural environment regrettable.

The management stressed that visitors should carry all of their trash with them on their hikes, and use the available bathroom facilities while on the mountain. Simply practicing these measures, the mountain can be kept in pristine condition for the local ecology and future visitors.

For visitors that would like to hike the trails of the Yushan National Park Ecological Protected Area, entrance requires a permit, which should be registered for at least a month in advance of the proposed hike. While permits can be obtained on shorter notice, park officials require the early registration for safety and environmental reasons.

Jade Mountain Image (Wikimedia Commons)

Jade Mountain Image (Wikimedia Commons)

The permits are intended to keep crowds at a safe and manageable level, and to avoid the accumulation of too much litter at one time. Over the past decade, the park has enforced a ban on hiking during the month of February. The measure is intended to keep potential hikers out of harm during the height of winter, as well as to give the park an opportunity to remove garbage and perform trail maintenance.

Taiwan is a country full of beautiful mountains and amazing natural vistas, which are some of Taiwan's most exceptional features. Taiwanese residents and foreign visitors alike should strive to keep these locations clean. If possible, hikers should strive to leave a trail more beautiful than they find it, by helping to pick up trash left by others.

In a statement from 2016, the Forestry Bureau, of the Council of Agriculture stated that preserving Taiwan's natural mountain ecology presents a unique challenge. This is because Taiwan's industrial and urban development have covered much of the island's lowlands, turning the mountain habitats into islands themselves, as isolated pockets of genuine wilderness dotting the landscape throughout Taiwan.

The statement says that Taiwanese society has only truly been committed to environmental preservation for the past decade. Maintaining the beauty of Taiwan's mountains will be a difficult task that will require everyone's cooperation in the decades to come.