Twenty Atayal Aborigines held a joint press conference in Taipei yesterday, urging the government to designate their homeland a forest reserve to protect a number of treasured red cypress trees there from exploitation.
The Atayal activists said they have established a special office to push for the designation of the Peidelaman mountain region -- surrounding Hsinchu County's Chienshih Village -- as a forest reserve.
According to the activists, people have been swarming to the area since the media reported the discovery of the grove of rare giant red cypresses, many over 2,000 years old.
Atayal men formed a special team last week to block the entry of outsiders. "We are afraid the move will not be enough to protect our homeland and the precious old trees. Therefore, we want the government to designate it a forest reserve, making it subject to government protection," said an Atayal elder.
The activists asked the Cabinet to send officials to discuss effective measures to protect the trees, which the Atayal consider sacred.