The Yilan Green Expo has been taking place for over a decade and has become one of the most recognized environmental awareness activities in the country. This year, the event is back at the Wulaokeng Scenic Area (武荖坑風景區) where it will play host to a huge range of family activities for a total of 51 days. The expo, which opens tomorrow, combines tourism, food, entertainment and education in a single massive event that has greatly raised awareness of Yilan’s efforts to establish itself as a new Eden, an escape back to nature for residents of Taiwan’s overdeveloped west coast.
The 2013 Green Expo has adopted the theme of Return to the Forest, and promises visitors to Wulaokeng Scenic Area not just the beautiful scenery and warm welcome for which Yilan is already famous, but also a chance to reflect on issues such as bringing back a balance between the drive for production and the need to establish a quality of life. Finding a sustainable solution to preserving our modern lifestyles and conserving Taiwan’s increasingly threatened natural habitat tops the agenda, though you probably wouldn’t guess it from the host of fun activities, lucky draws, performances and DIY workshops to be found there.
Yilan County commissioner Lin Tsung-hsien (林聰賢) said that “natural agriculture, tourism, LOHAS lifestyle and healthy living, and experience and learning about nature” would be the keystones of this year’s event. Natural agriculture is an issue of growing importance given that Taiwan, according to a recent report based on the World Economic Forum’s Environmental Sustainability Index published by the Kuanshu Educational Foundation (觀樹教育基金會), is reported as being the heaviest user of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in the world. LOHAS is an acronym for Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability, a buzzword that has caught on in Taiwan through its linking of environmental issues with personal health. While it will take much more than Yilan’s Green Expo to change Taiwan’s agricultural habits, which for the large part continue to favor the use of chemicals to boost yields, Lin said that this year’s event, with the creation of an “organic lifestyle area,” would be an important milestone in pushing forward the policy of the “organic new Yilan.”