TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The She-Pa National Park Headquarters said on Wednesday (Aug. 25) that the highest Earth God temple in Taiwan, which is located on Xueshan at an altitude of 3,520 meters, has been moved to a lower local to reduce the risk of forest fires starting when hikers burn incense to worship the deity.
The decades-old temple had been beside Cuei Pond, the highest natural lake in the country, just below the western ridge of Xueshan. It was also surrounded by the largest natural single-seed juniper forest in the country, CNA reported.
In the past, mountaineers regarded the temple, the dreamlike surface of the lake, and reflections of the mountain as a set of three notable sights. In the wake of the temple’s sudden disappearance, discussions have sprung up online among mountaineers.
Considering the drought that ravaged Taiwan earlier this year, as well as hikers' tendency to frequent the temple with lit cigarettes and to burn incense sticks, the park headquarters made the decision to relocate the temple to avoid potential forest fires, Park Administration Deputy Director Lin Wen-ho (林文和) said.
According to Lin, it’s very hard to put out alpine fires. A case in point was the Yushan forest fire in May, which caused irreversible damage to the local ecology despite tremendous resources spent fighting the blaze.
The single-seed juniper forest near the temple's former location is the largest and most beautiful in Taiwan, the deputy director said. He added that if a forest fire were to break out there, the losses would be unimaginable.
He went on to say that after reaching an agreement with the Dongshih Forest District Office, the park headquarters in early July relocated the temple to the Basianshan National Forest Recreation Area in Taichung's Heping District while observing folk customs.
(She-Pa National Park Headquarters photos)
Cuei Pond (Wikimedia Commons photo)