TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan Ecotourism Association (TEA) President Yuri Guo (郭育任) recently sat down with Taiwan News to discuss a new collaboration.
The newspaper will work with the TEA on a series of reports about the outdoors, touching on many of Taiwan’s unique geological features and recommending excursions out into nature to see them.
Guo said that in the past, the TEA had focused on holding forums and training guides, but in recent years, he has been partnering with other organizations to set up eco-tours that blend Taiwan’s amazing scenery and culture.
Taiwan’s unique geographical features
There are 268 peaks with an elevation of over 3,000 meters in Taiwan, the TEA president explained, while the country has an area of only 36,000 square kilometers. Comparatively speaking, Japan is 10 times the physical size of Taiwan, yet it has only about 30 peaks over 3,000 meters.
Taiwan is blessed with another geographical treasure, he said, which is cloud forests, a designation that can be given to only 1% of the world’s forests. Amazingly, there are lots of cloud forests in Taiwan.
The country has a great variety of tall trees, especially cypresses. While there are only six species of cypress in the world, Taiwan is blessed with two — the Taiwan red cypress and the Taiwan cypress, both of which are species of giant tall trees, he continued.
Some of the giant trees in Taiwan’s cloud forests have been logged, including at Alishan, Basianshan, and Taipingshan, but luckily many enormous trees are left untouched in cloud forests, including at Taoyuan’s Lala Mountain and Mt. Beichatian, Hsinchu County’s Smangus, and Yilan County’s Qilan.
Currently, the TEA is organizing an eco-tour to visit the giant trees around Lala Mountain.
Recent TEA focus
As of late, Guo said, the TEA has been assisting government agencies to plan eco-tours, including arranging hiking routes, room and board, activities, transportation, training local guides and personnel, and serving as a liaison with partnering travel agencies. Basically, he explained, the TEA does all the organizing, training, and other work to bring the conception of eco-tours to life for government agencies.
The association has organized tours to the Tsou tribe’s villages in the Alishan area, Smangus, the Nenggao Trail, the Bunun tribe villages along the Zhuoshui River in Nantou County, Fushan in New Taipei’s Wulai Township, Kenting in Pingtung County, as well as an animal watching tour of Alishan to see white-faced flying squirrels at night.
To exemplify what such tours look like, Guo mentioned a one-day tour that the association is working on with the Yangmingshan National Park Headquarters that takes participants to see volcanic landforms and distinct types of plants in the national park’s Mt. Xiangtian area. This is followed by a walk down a trail to a community called Xingfuliao to visit century-old houses, have a meal with some homemade tea, and then go see old irrigation ditches and terraced fields.
Collaboration with Taiwan News
Lastly, Guo talked about the reports the TEA will work on with the newspaper.
“The primary collaboration with Taiwan News will be about presenting routes for one-to-four day outings for foreigners as well as compatriots," he said. "We’ll study more accessible and well-known hiking trails, including the Xiakelo National Trail, Nenggao Trail, and trails to some of Taiwan 100 Peaks, such as Dabajian Mountain, Jiaming Lake, and Mt. Beidawu.”
He added that information about local flora and fauna as well as Taiwan’s culture and history will be touched on whenever possible, while original aerial photography will be featured.
“In light of Taiwan’s heightened international visibility in recent years,” Guo explained, “I feel that Taiwan News is a good channel with high readership to present the best of Taiwan to international friends.”
Taiwan Ecotourism Association President Yuri Guo (TEA photo)