《TAIPEI TIMES》 Mountains, forests now open to public
Premier Su Tseng-chang announces the relaxation of rules for hiking in mountains and forests at a news conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei yesterday. Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
TRANSPARENCY: Hikers welcomed the change in policy, saying it would be a boon to tourism, while urging fellow hiking enthusiasts to pay attention to their behavior
By Chiu Yen-ling and William Hetherington / Staff reporter, with staff writer
All mountain and forest areas not classified as national security sites or conservation areas are now open to the public, Premier Su Tseng-chang （蘇貞昌） announced yesterday.
The new policy opens up many areas to hikers, and is in line with the government’s aim to be more open and transparent in serving the public interest, he said.
The government should not use danger to personal safety as an excuse for limiting access to the nation’s forests and mountains, the Executive Yuan said.
The Forestry Bureau would manage motor vehicle access to mountain and forest roads, but would not limit public access, it said.
People who want to enter conservation areas would no longer be subject to evaluations of their mountain-climbing experience, but would still need to apply for permission online at least five days before starting a trip, it said.
The government expects 23 mountain facilities to be renovated by the end of the year, and plans to have 12 structures renovated and 23 new structures built within five years, the Executive Yuan said.
Improvements would be made on 78 trails, and 59 high-elevation camps would be completed by the end of next year, it said.
A cellular base station on Yushan （玉山） began operations in August, and the government plans to improve cellphone coverage on mountains nationwide in the coming years, it said.
Hikers welcomed the change in policy and urged fellow enthusiasts to conduct themselves appropriately to prevent losing access.
“There are still many streams and rivers that are off-limits, and opening them up will require more study and discussion, but the new policy is a move in the right direction,” Tsui Tsu-hsi （崔祖錫） said.
“Taiwan has a diverse mountain environment and people can climb a mountain and descend in the same day here. However, facilities are lacking and the restrictions make things inconvenient,” Lee Mei-liang （李美涼） said. “But finally, they have opened things up.”
Gavin Tsai （蔡及文）, an avid climber who sells camping and climbing equipment, said Taiwan’s mountains are among the most beautiful in the world.
“I hope more people can see them and better appreciate this island. This policy can bring in tourism revenue,” he said.