Wed, Mar 20, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Cabinet draft to open up national parks to hikers

By Chen Yu-fu and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The Executive Yuan is drafting new regulations that would open most national parks’ peaks and forests to hikers, Minister Without Portfolio Chang Chin-sen (張景森) said on Sunday last week, adding that promulgation is expected as early as July.

Rather than granting access by application, the new regulations would allow hikers in national parks after giving authorities advance notice, unless public access jeopardizes public safety or the environment, Chang said.

The decision was made last week after a series of meetings between representatives of the Forestry Bureau, the Sports Administration, the Construction and Planning Agency and the nation’s alpine clubs, he said.

He facilitated those discussions in response to complaints from hikers that local governments had, through county and city-level ordinances, imposed regulations on access to national parks that were “inappropriate,” he said.

While restrictions on motor vehicles are to remain in effect to prevent illegal logging, the Forestry Bureau is to open all forest roads that are safe to hikers, he said.

Nantou County’s landslide-prone Dadan Forest Road (丹大林道) is one of the unsafe roads that would remain closed to the public until road conditions improve, he added.

Meanwhile, the Sports Administration is to replace the Tourism Bureau as the central government’s regulatory authority for hiking, Chang said.

Government agencies would step up safety measures by improving communication infrastructure, high-altitude rescue capabilities and the ability to keep track of hikers, he said.

After July, the public would no longer require the explicit permission of park authorities to visit most mountains, Construction and Planning Agency Director-General Wu Hsin-hsiu (吳欣修) said.

For safety reasons, hikers would still need to give authorities prior notice of their treks and other information so that they could be located by rescuers in case of an emergency, he said.

The National Police Agency is to establish an integrated one-stop platform for hikers to register their trips, he added.

Environmental conservation zones and hiking paths deemed dangerous by professional guides would remain off-limits to the general public, Wu said.

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