Conservation group hopes to save 315-year-old tree

By Tsai Meng-shang and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Thu, May 23, 2013 - Page 5

A 315-year-old “sacred tree” that is slowly rotting in Hsinchu County’s Beipu Township (北埔) might be restored to health, after it was included in a nationwide “saving ancient trees scheme” initiated by the privately run Fu-Tien Tree Healing and Conservation Foundation.

Foundation chief executive Chiu Hui-chu (邱慧珠) said the camphor tree, named the Erliao sacred tree (二寮神木), was the oldest among 10 ancient trees it selected from 158 trees in 16 cities and counties as the group’s conservation priorities.

With a circumference of 6m, a height of 20m and a crown area of 470m2, the Erliao tree suffers from trunk decay and has seen some branch cracks caused by natural disasters beginning to rot, according to the foundation’s preliminary diagnosis.

Decay has been detected at the base of the trunk, despite arborist Yang Kan-ling (楊甘陵) having tried to alleviate the problem by covering it with plastic materials about a decade ago.

Local residents said the tree is considered a “sacred tree” because of an Earth God temple located beside it. They said it was not only the township’s landmark, but also their religious center.

“A decade ago, [Yang’s] timely treatments helped prevent decay at the tree’s trunk and roots from spreading. We hope the foundation’s treatments can bring the sacred tree back to health,” they said.

Chiu said the foundation planned to begin treatment when the current spell of wet weather ends.