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New Center for Community Forestry to Promote Satoyama Economies
On November 18th an opening ceremony was held for the newly created “Center for Community Forestry”, which is stationed at the NPUST Department of Forestry building. The center will work to promote the sustainable use of Taiwan’s rich natural & cultural resources, community development, revitalization of village economies, and adoption of “Sound Material-Cycle Society” concepts. The underlying strategy is based on the Japanese “Satoyama” (里山) practices of “managing forests through local agricultural communities”. The center came about through the cooperative efforts of the Forestry Bureau and NPUST. Through talent cultivation and cross discipline integration, hopes are to officially initiate an era of “Community Forestry 2.0” and help Taiwan’s mountainous villages move towards a future of stable development. The center will serve both as green-economy talent bank for the mountainous areas, and a base for education & training, knowledge exchange and international cooperation. An online platform has also been set up to collect and share knowledge, technology and resources. Representatives of NPUST, the Forestry Bureau, the Wutai Government and the Rukai Tribe Council were joined by related experts in the field at the opening ceremony. In remarks made by Vice President Chung-Ruey Yen, reference was given to President Chang-Hsien Tai’s emphasis on ecological conservation and the four main axes of development he established for the university when beginning his presidency; namely, technology based agriculture, ecology industry, platinum society and blue economy. Vice-President Yen went on further to explain how the university’s six colleges are working to integrate industry supply chains and linking with community industries to optimize industry-government-academia cooperation. Forestry Bureau Director Hwa-Ching Lin explained that the bureau initiated the “Local Ecology Conservation Green-Network Project” in 2018 in an effort to create conservation areas extending from Taiwan’s central mountain areas, across the foothills and plains, right down to the coastlines – giving expression to the natural essence of the surrounding communities and tribes. The bureau also established a “Satoyama Roots Economy” knowledge information system (KIS) to provide information and matchmaking services to communities across Taiwan. Since 2002 the Forestry Bureau has been promoting community forestry practices and cooperating with different tribes to put over 2300 projects into effect. In 2008, the bureau began cooperating with NPUST’s Professor Mei-Hui Chen to develop ecological tourism with indigenous tribes in Pingtung and helping with the efforts to rebuild after the devastating Morakot Typhoon ravaged the area. Nakamura Nobuyuki, a Satoyama expert from Japan, was also given a special invitation to be present during the opening ceremony. Nakamura, who is also on the preparatory committee for the Taiwan-Japan Satoyama Exchange Council, expressed his appreciation for the way universities, governmental agencies and local communities in Taiwan were cooperating closely with one another in a manner that he has not seen elsewhere. In an effort to add even greater depth to the Satoyama orientated objectives, NPUST has also applied for membership to the International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative (IPSI), which is sanctioned by the government of Japan and the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS). NPUST is hoping to become the 10th organization in Taiwan be inducted into the partnership, thus allowing the university to glean more information and experience from other organizations conducting related research and give faculty members a new opportunity to represent Taiwan internationally and share the results of their long term research activities in rural areas.
Pingtung Bus “Reserved Buses” On Campus
On November 23rd, the Directorate General of Highways and the Pingtung County Government accompanied Pingtung Bus and NPUST at the opening ceremony for the “Demand Response Transportation System” (DRTS). This will be the first time nationwide for DRTS services to be offered within university campus grounds and will include Taiwan’s first-ever APP reservation and “late bird reservation” services. NPUST President Chang-Hsien Tai pointed out that “NPUST is situated on a 300 hectare campus and many of the students are living in off-campus dorms. For the most part, students get around on scooters and at peak times traffic can be busy, to say the least. In order to improve on-campus safety and convenience of movement, effective alternatives to scooters need to be offered. The DRTS system can provide students with a safe and convenient commuting option; and in the future, hopes are to integrate more of the smart technology developed by the university to improve all aspects of daily life, including eating, clothing, living and commuting — and also to help farmers in more remote areas with the transporting of their produce. We are also grateful to the Pingtung County government for providing financial support; not only with respect to the mass transit systems, but also with the re-engineering of Keda Road. The financial support from the government will translate into safer commuting for students.” Pingtung County Governor, Men-An Pan, said that “with its vast space, NPUST is the most qualified university to offer on-campus bus services. We are grateful for the support provided by the Directorate General of Highways, for approving the opening of many new routes so that students and faculty will be able to enjoy this type of convenient service”. DRTS has been broadly implemented in rural areas around the country as a result of the recent promotion of the system by the Directorate General of Highways. The DGH also recognized the feasibility of employing the system at university campuses and thus invited Pingtung Bus and NPUST to team up to get the project rolling, and to serve as the first example of on-campus DRTS services in the country. Currently the DRTS services all follow a model that requires reservations to be made one day in advance; however, taking “student life” into consideration, Pingtung Bus has worked to improve the system, offering the first ever DRTS “late bird” services, so that students can make reservations according to a post-arrival threshold or according to specific bus number, allowing for maximum occupancy and more efficient services. Additionally, with the APP functions, students can make reservations 24 hours a day. The director of Pingtung Bus, Zi-yi Kuo, noted that Pingtung Bus already has a shuttle service to and from NPUST, however, with the traditional type of service it may be hard to accommodate for students’ situations. In order to get the mass transit more in touch with students’ needs, Pingtung Bus not only will start a brand new service, but has purchase a 9-seater bus to access the small and narrow student dorm roads, so that we can reach deeper into the student’s territory and increase the number of users. The current route includes 12 stops on and off campus. In order to accommodate for the new services, the Pingtung County government is funding the creation of four additional stops, mainly to provide locations for students living off campus and make it more convenient for the students to take the shuttle to and from school. Beginning operations on November 23rd, the new services are already receiving rave reviews from students, and with support from both the Pingtung County government and NPUST, free fare and a one person occupancy requirement are expected to help get students into the habit of using the new means of commuting. In the future, plans are to conduct periodic reviews and increase the number of stops on campus and in the surrounding area. The goal is to link the DRTS services to the routes running between NPUST and the Pingtung train station and Kaohsiung HSR station to provide a more comfortable and convenient way for students to commute. Zi-Yi Kuo also said that providing safe and convenient services for students, faculty and colleagues was the original intent and mission of Pingtung Bus. “We hope that this first case of cooperation between a bus company and university will serve as an example for others to follow, resulting in more on-campus DRTS services and working towards the goal of providing safe and environmentally-friendly transportation nationwide.”
NPUST Embraces the Art of Handcrafted Violins
Professor Way Long of the NPUST Department of Wood Science and Design has organized “College Violin” workshop to teach students the art of making handcrafted violins. Professor Long will focus the skills and knowledge of the department onto a new aim of creating violins that embody the kind of quality that is seen in the Italian Cremona Violins, and hopefully turn the school into a center for violin making in Taiwan. President Chang-Hsien Tai pointed out that the Department of Wood Science and Design uses different types of Taiwan’s locally produced woods — woods from tree plantations and even driftwood— to produce the violins; thus creating an optimal circular economic scenario while joining precision craftsmanship with music in another example of the university’s effort to promote professionalism and culture. Professor Way Long explained that there are three main differences between the “College Violin” and the Cremona Violin; the first is that every violin is made by students using traditional, purely hand-made methods. The second is that, rather than using expensive imported woods, every violin makes use of locally cultivated woods, with food material and plants used for surface treatment. The third is that in addition to making the violin, every student needs to learn how to play—to express the beauty that gives life to the wood. The “College Violin” handcrafted instruments make use of Taiwan Zelkova wood (back plate), Luanta Fir (front plate) and employs exquisite crafting techniques. Violins have always been regarded as elite instruments, and the crafting processes are full of legend and secret – which even put the department’s faculty to the test. Thus, wood design professor Way Long is coordinating with the renowned violin maker, Huang Sheng-yen, who will bring his professional craftsmanship to the campus, to harmonize his art with the woodworking skills of the department. Under their direction, students will select the wood, laminate the parts, and apply the surface treatment –independently carrying out every step of the processes, so that they can experience the art of making the instrument an then play its first notes for themselves. The mold creation, materials preparation, violin assembly, surface treatment, and coating are all done by hand. The materials used for surface treatment are all natural, food-based or plant based materials – yellow stains made from tangerines, gold stains made from amber, and reds coming from wine or Royal Poinciana. And once the handmade violin is assembled, its sound is tested in a moment that is likened to an infant taking her first steps. Adjustments are then made to correct the sound, as each of the different materials and types of treatments will result in a different type of sound quality, as unique as a person’s voiceprint. Huang Sheng-yan, who has been playing violin since his youth and who holds a master’s degree from Japan’s Senzoku Gakuen College of Music, studied under the tutelage of Tokyo Symphony Orchestra chair, Tsuneo Iso. As a youth, his father gave him a 60 thousand dollar violin to play and the technical skills to maintain it. This kindled a desire within him to play and to make the instrument. He thus cultivated his violin making skills and has instructed violin making around the world. Under his guidance, the students in the woodworking department at NPUST will be able to develop their craftsmanship in a completely new direction .