Goodall donates 1,600 saplings for Neihu park

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Nov 06, 2014 - Page 3

Primatologist and environmentalist Jane Goodall yesterday presented 1,600 native tree saplings to Taipei as a new city park on the site of the former landfill known as the “Neihu Garbage Mountain” nears completion.

“I’m very privileged to be here learning about what’s been happening and all the hard work that’s been going on,” Goodall said during a handover ceremony in Neihu District (內湖), adding that Taiwan’s environment has greatly improved since her first visit 18 years ago.

The Jane Goodall Institute-

Taiwan, founded in May 1998, promotes conservation and animal welfare through the Roots & Shoots educational program, which is designed to raise awareness about caring for the environment, animals and the community.

The landfill site was first used as a refuse pit for excavations from brick factories in Nangang District (南港), but by the 1970s the garbage had piled into a 53m-high hill.

The large volume of methane emitted by the rotting garbage caused numerous explosions and landslides before a 10-day fire in 1985 forced authorities to close the garbage dump.

The new park will change the former landfill from a “cancer” to a “lung” for Taipei, as newly planted trees will help clean the city’s air, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said.

While an initial clean-up project years ago was begun to halt the landfill’s encroachment onto the banks of the Keelung River, a desire to make more effective use of the valuable real estate the site occupies triggered efforts to thoroughly clear the site, Taipei City Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Wu Sheng-chung (吳盛忠) said.

Starting in 2006, a total of 285.4 tonnes of garbage was removed from the site, Wu said.

Although the garbage had been covered for many years and no longer emitted methane, the height of the hill and the site’s reputation deterred city residents from entering, he said.

Work on the new park is expected to be completed early next year, Wu said.

The park offers views of Taipei 101 over the Keelung River and is expected to boost development in Nangang and Neihu, the city said.