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NPUST Team Helps Launch “Eighteen Luohans” Visitor Station

NPUST Team Helps Launch “Eighteen Luohans” Visitor Station

Thanks to efforts made by Department of Forestry Professor Mei-Hui Chen and the NPUST Community Forestry Industry Center, a new visitor station has been established for visitors headed to the Eighteen Luohans Mountain Conservation Area. In January of 2017, the Community Forestry Industry Center at NPUST was commissioned by the Pingtung Forest Management Office to provide training to locals who would later take on the responsibilities of conservation and tour services at the Eighteen Luohans Mountain Conservation Area.

With the assistance of government agencies and community organizations in the Kaohsiung and Pingtung area, the work of the team has resulted in the successful advancement of Taiwan’s first-ever community operated nature conservation area.  Originally, tours were only provided for those who made reservations 15 days in advance. However, in order improve services and make things more convenient to the public, the “Eighteen Luohans Mountain Conservation Area Visitor Services Station” has been established and will be open to applicants on holidays, so that more visitors will be able to enjoy the conservation area and experience this valuable nature preserve. On February 16, 2019 the Deputy-Director I-Kuang Liao of the Forestry Bureau, Director Ching-fa Chien of the Maolin National Scenic Area Management Office and a number of other local government representatives and local residents were in attendance on the opening day to witness this milestone event for the Eighteen Luohans Mountain Conservation Area.

Professor Meih-hui Chen explained that “the Eighteen Luohans team was formed a little over a year ago and consists of local tour guides from all walks of life, ranging between 30 and 70 years of age”. She pointed out that “they not only will provide commentary on the natural features, including bats and other protected life in the area, but will also shoulder the responsibility of conducting periodic patrols and monitoring activities”. Professor Chen added that “the university, government and the community are working together to conduct the regional revitalization activities”, emphasizing that “without the participation of all three, it just won’t work”. “‘Social responsibility’ in higher education means bringing research out of the confines of the campus to help create sustainable communities where business and conservation activities can coincide.”

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