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Daan forest park in need of NT$30 mil. restoration: experts

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- After examinations made by forestry experts from Japan and Taiwan, the Friends of Daan Forest Park Foundation yesterday announced that a primary makeover for the park would cost approximately NT$30 million.

According to foundation CEO Kuo Cheng-meng, the park has been established for 20 years and large portions of its trees and plots of grass have suffered from natural disasters like typhoons and thunder storms as well as from constant trampling by park visitors. The degree of damage reached a point that made a park-wide “health examination” crucial. The forestry experts conducted a four-day examination, later concluding that the soil was too firm and lacked ventilation, which also causes excessive flooding. The park was structured on soil inappropriate for growing trees, and having people walk all over the land did not help things; the trees were unable to grow and some even began to rot, said one of the Japanese tree doctors.

The evaluation of rotting, infected trees and possible removal work will be finished shortly, said Kuo, who added that the next step will be to review the underground sewage system for needed reforms and to improve the soil firmness problem. “The entire project may take around ten years at an estimated NT$30 million.”

Due to the costly expenses estimated for the project, the foundation will be calling for enterprises to “adopt” trees that needed doctoring and to join in ecosystem preservation work, said Kuo. “Several companies have already signed up to help us, tree adoption and donations are also open to the public as well ... we hope that the government will issue a budget for the project. Our foundation will do all it can to help.”

The Taiwan Forestry Research Institute Director General Huang Yue-hsing (黃裕星) noted that forestation projects have become trendy in Taiwan in recent years, but the people have not been making much of an effort to preserve the trees planted. Aside from educating the people on the correct usage of green areas, the government is hoping to build up a local system regulating tree health in two to three years, using similar international systems and experiences as an example, Huang added.

Daan Forest Park is a public park, notably the largest in Taipei City, located near the center of the city's Daan District. Built by then-mayor Chen Shiu-bian, the park was intended to play a similar role as other major city parks, including Central Park in New York City and Hyde Park in London, acting as the “lungs of Taipei City.”

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