It’s been ten years since the of the Typhoon Morakot disaster decimated the villages along the No. 24 highway in Sandimen and Wutai township in Southern Taiwan. Since that time, the local communities have been partnering with government, industry and academia to restore the area and develop local features according to principles of the “Satoyama Initiative”. Their work is integrating eco-systems, aboriginal culture and principles of common existence and common operations to attract the young people back to the area to invest in the sustainable development of the local economy.At today’s press conference, partners from each community, work teams and cooperating academics convened in Taipei to look back over the progess of the past ten years. Rukai National Assembly chairperson Lavuras Abaliwsu spoke sentimentally about the Typhoon Morakot, describing it as a type of “big shower”: “through this baptism, the people were able to grow strong and thrive”. The Morakot disaster was very severe for the tribes who lived along the No. 24 highway—culture was lost and people moved away. Some of the neighboring tribes completely disappeared from the map and the precious mountain resources, the traditional Rukai cultureand knowledge would be impossible to recover. In response, the Forestry Bureau began promoting Satoyama Initiative in 2010 according to the spirit working together with National Pingtung University of Science and Technology (NPUST) Professor Mei-Hui Chen with support from government, business and academic resources. With participation from the Tribes’ people, together they developed the three eco-friendly “deep economies”, namely: Eco-tourism, Circular Agriculture and Satoyama Under Forest Agriculture. Through the efforts they have been helping young people return to the area and start businesses via the promotion of the sustainable mountain community development.The Liugui District in Kaohsiung, which was also impacted by the disaster has been working with the Forestry Bureau to plan a path forward. Coordinating with tour guides from the Eighteen Luohans Mountain Conservation Area, they have strengthened agriculture and community activities in the area with “feature tourism”From the No. 24 highway road to Eighteen Luohans Mountain, the Satoyama Deep Economy approach has already experienced 10 years of development and it has been referred to as the predecessor of the “local creation” creation model. By way of sustainable mountain village economic development to care for the mountain forests, and the richness of the mountain areas are also caring for us.Looking back at the 10-year journey, it is clear that everything began with the roots of the tribe. Situated along the No. 24 highway, the Wutai Township people who relocated to the plains, still protect their ancestral tribal area at the foot of the mountains, and play a leading role in ecotourism while placing an emphasis on the upholding Rukai culture.Another tribe in Wutai Township has been working to rebuild is the Dawu Tribe which has a unique language system and 21 types of valuable millet product as part of their heritage. The residents have been promoting the cultivation of millet and Taiwan quinoa. Under the forest canopy they cultivate special medicinal plants and raise native Taiwan chickens. Using agricultural wastes, such as the red stalks they also grow oyster mushrooms, thereby creating a circular economy model of agroforestry.The Forestry Bureau explained that many tribes are situated in the mountain area surrounded by forests. Not only do agricultural production models need to follow sustainable principles, but there is also a difference with the type of products that can be cultivated. In order to promote under forest economies, the first stage was for the tribes to try out a variety of options, such as herb cultivation and raising bees. Together with their own cultural element, the people could truly return to the forests and benefit from it in a positive way—managing the resources and conserving the ecosystem.The development of “deep economies” on the No. 24 highway is opening up new opportunities for young people. Shanyi Lin of the O-Shan Studios, who has been on situated on the No. 24 for the past 10 years, has developed experience eco-tourism activities with tribal cultural connotations. Chen Mo of the Two Shoulders smart technology company is using block-chain technology to promote the Wutai under forest chickens, transmitting information on their health and daily activities so that customers can have confidence in the source of their food. Meanwhile, with pre-purchase orders, the farmers also have better assurance for their livelihood. Jin-xi Liao of Yuansen Ecological Company has been promoting the “Sweet Forest Project” to get the tribes’ people on board with the development under forest economies via beekeeping.Paiwan vocalists Sauniaw Tjuveljevelj has been recording ancient tribal songs that connect the singer to the land. These include love songs and songs about family, friendship, the land, and all things beautiful and far-reaching. In eco-tourism, the aborigines often use music to express people’s emotions and enhance the eco-tourism experience.The deep economy activities are not only taking place among the tribes situated along the No. 24 highway, but also extends to the neighboring Eighteen Luohans Mountain and Liugui area. Those situated on the banks of the Laonong River were also hit hard by the Morakot typhoon. And they have also have done much reconstruction over the past ten years, with residents using the deep economy principles as their strategy for developmentThe Forestry Bureau said that the Eighteen Luohans Mountain Conservation Area was selected as the operating base in Liugui, so that when people here about the Eighteen Luohans, they think about Liugui. Tour guide teams were trained and tourists are now being accepted based on reservation. The guides provide introductions to the species in the area and follow the “Liugui Travel Notes” to give visitors an opportunity to experience the agriculture activities taking place in Liugui.The Forestry Bureau emphasized that the 10th anniversary is not the end point, but a milestone. The reconstruction projects of the native tribe are about to enter their second stage. The experience and achievements accumulated in the first stage, as well as the young entrepreneurial teams which have been nurtured, will serve as the impetus for the work to be done in the second phase. Hopes are that we will continue to work hard to development the deep economy and strengthen the original tribes, so that more people who relocated to the plains can one day return to their ancestral homes on the mountain.
10 Year Anniversary of Typhoon Morakot, 10 Years of “Satoyama Deep Economies”