Forestry officials recently announced that their 18-year effort to turn a desolate coastal plain into a vibrant and biodiverse ecosystem has been a resounding success.
The successful afforestation of the 20-hectare Sihhu Coastal Botanical Garden, located in Sihhu Township (四湖), Yunlin County, was the result of “strenuous” efforts taken “step by step” by authorities, said Huang Yu-hsing (黃裕星), director of the Council of Agriculture’s Taiwan Forestry Research Institute, which manages the project.
Huang said the original coastal area not only suffered from floods during summer and fall seasons, but was also ravaged by large amounts of salt brought in from the sea by strong winds during the winters, making it hard for plants to survive.
However, the garden now boasts a plethora of mangroves, grassy marches, shrubs, sand plants, wetland plants and many others. The botanical garden was established in 1993 as an -experimental garden for researchers to conduct studies on coastal area afforestation.
Based on their experiences, Hsu Yuan-jui (許原瑞), director of the institute’s Chungpu Research Center, said they now know it is better to plant different species of trees at different zones of the coast to ensure biodiversity.
For instance, the hard and heavy beefwood is planted nearest to the sea to guard the rest of the garden from surf, winds and floods.
The windbreaking forest in the inner ring consists of various species of trees, creating a multiple layer effect to maximize plant survival.
As for the salt marshes in the garden, Hsu said authorities dug salt drainage ditches and detention ponds and planted mangroves and wetland plants to improve the land in those areas.
By understanding and accommodating nature, officials said they were able to create a rich habitat where fish, waterfowl, bees and butterflies now thrive.
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