Wed, Aug 01, 2018 - Page 3 News List

COA asks Cabinet to hike allowance for forest rangers

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

To improve the salaries of forest rangers, who often face unpredictable dangers, the Council of Agriculture (COA) has tendered a proposal to the Executive Yuan to raise their professional allowance, COA Minister Lin Tsung-hsien (林聰賢) said yesterday.

To mark World Ranger Day yesterday, the council released a documentary titled Taiwan Forest Guard featuring the work and lives of a select group of forest rangers, which premiered at Taipei’s Spot Huashan Cinema.

The film aims to raise public awareness about the contributions of forest rangers, especially as more than 60 percent of the nation’s land is covered by forests, Lin said.

The nation has 1,087 forest rangers, each of whom is charged with patrolling nearly 1,400 hectares of forest and tasked with assisting rescue and firefighting missions, the council’s Forestry Bureau said.

As forest rangers have lower salaries than firefighters or other personnel tasked with dangerous missions, as well as to attract more young recruits, the council has submitted a proposal to the Cabinet’s Directorate-General of Personnel Administration to increase their professional allowance, Lin said.

Nearly one-quarter of the rangers are yearly contract workers earning a monthly salary of about NT$26,000, while the rest are higher-ranking technicians who have better pay, bureau Director-General Lin Hwa-ching (林華慶) said.

The Executive Yuan in 2005 stopped recruiting rangers as technicians, with those admitted later hired as contract workers.

The bureau hopes to increase the salaries and pensions of the contract rangers to the same level as those of specialists, Lin Haw-ching said, but added that personnel agency has not yet approved its proposal.

Asked what changes in forests have left the greatest impression on them, rangers Sun Chia-hsiang (孫嘉祥) and Chen Yu-ju (陳昱茹) — two of the documentary’s protagonists — said they have been disturbed by the negative effects of climate change.

While the beauty of sacred trees is impressive, the frequency of heavy rainfall and landslides is increasing and defacing mountains, said 33-year-old Chen, who has worked as a ranger in New Taipei City’s Wulai District (烏來) for five years.

In addition to an increasing number of landslides, illegal logging has also evolved, with even some migrant workers originally hired by Taiwanese becoming independent lumber dealers, making forest rangers’ jobs more challenging, said 42-year-old Sun, who has worked in Taichung’s Liyang (麗陽) area for 11 years.

Lien Chien-hung (練建宏), who directed the documentary, said his team spent two years shooting the film, adding that his love and respect for the land has grown after working with the rangers.

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