Sat, Dec 02, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Aussies give Taiwania global exposure

DIVERSE ECOSYSTEM:Rebecca Hsu invited the duo because she wanted to help deliver a striking image of Taiwania so people would know how unique they are

By Lee Hsin-Yin  /  CNA, with staff writer

Rebecca Hsu, an assistant researcher at the Taiwan Forestry Research Institute, climbs a tree in Hsinchu County to examine epiphytes in the canopy in an undated photograph.

Photo courtesy of Steve Pearce

The landscape of Qilan Mountain in Yilan County bears an eerie resemblance to Fangorn Forest in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, blanketed in ancient, gigantic trees that have seemingly transcended time.

Now a few of those natural wonders, located in one of the least accessible areas, are gaining global exposure thanks to an Australian team determined to educate people around the world about forest ecosystems and to promote conservation, one tree at a time.

“Traveling so far to see a tree was a nervous gamble,” said Steve Pearce, a photographer who runs The Tree Projects organization. “We were very nervous when we first met the tree, but as soon as we stepped out of the car, we immediately knew we had a winner.”

Together with his wife, ecologist Jennifer Sanger, Pearce founded The Tree Projects with a simple mission — to raise awareness of the world’s forests by capturing images of their biggest trees.

The inspiration for the initiative was National Geographic’s 2009 portrait of Californian redwoods, which opened people’s eyes to the giant trees.

Pearce and Sanger believe that “the simple experience of seeing a giant tree for the first time can break down preconceptions” and that showing people forests in all their magnificence is more effective in building appreciation rather than just telling people about them.

“We simplify our message, we simplify the forest to one picture, to just one tree,” Pearce said.

Having visited swamp gums in Tasmania, Australia, and rimu trees in New Zealand, Pearce and Sanger traveled to Taiwan on a new mission in April.

They spent 17 days producing a full-length portrait of a massive conifer, known as a Taiwania tree, using arboreal rigging techniques — except this time they got three for the price of one, “three sisters” to be precise.

The “three sisters” are three massive Taiwania trees growing close together at the end of Forest Road No. 170 in Hsinchu County, which is only accessible from Yilan County via Provincial Highway No. 7 and Forest Road No. 100.

Pearce told the Central News Agency that they had no previous knowledge of the landscape and trees until they met Rebecca Hsu (徐嘉君), an assistant researcher at the Taiwan Forestry Research Institute, at a science conference in London last year.

After learning about the Australians’ endeavors, Hsu invited them to visit Taiwan to undertake a project on Taiwania trees.

Hsu said the three sisters emerged as the best candidates thanks to the restoration of Forest Road No. 170 last year after it had been partly damaged by a typhoon.

That allowed the team to reach the location without having to trek about 5km as Hsu had to do back in 2014 during her first encounter with the trees.

“I wanted to help deliver a striking image of Taiwania to the world so people know how unique they are and how diverse Taiwan’s ecosystem is,” Hsu said.

The conifer often grows to an impressive size, with its trunk measuring up to 4m in diameter.

It is listed as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of threatened species

Pearce and Sanger had their eye on the “big sister,” which is 70m tall, but also captured its two sisters growing next to it that measure 63m and less than 50m.

As anybody who has ever tried taking a photograph of a massive tree knows, getting a full, realistic likeness is a challenge.

This story has been viewed 2925 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top