Alangyi Historic Trail: The Battle for Conservation

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2012 / 5月

Yeh Pin-yu and Teng Sue-feng /photos courtesy of Yeh Pin-yu /tr. by Chris Nelson


It’s a place that bears the footprints of centuries of migrating people, the spirits of those who bravely resisted invaders, and the faint roar of pounding surf. It’s a place battered by typhoons and monsoons, with precipitous coastal cliffs carved by rushing rivers and beaches strewn with stones rubbed smooth by churning waves. It’s a place of world-class geological vistas.

This is one of Taiwan’s only two remaining sections of natural coastline, Taiwan’s remotest corner: Alangyi.


The Chinese name Alangyi is derived from the Paiwan-language place name Al­jungic. During the past several centuries years, this trail was walked by people traversing Taiwan’s southwestern plains, the Heng­chun Peninsula and the area between Tai­tung and Hua­lien.

Alangyi Historic Trail is a north-south route stretching about 12 kilometers northward from Xu­hai Village, Mu­dan Township, Ping­tung County to Nan­tian Village, Da­ren Township, Tai­tung County. Currently, it’s almost the only stretch of Taiwan’s coast not reached by modern highways. However, the Directorate General of Highways (DGH) carried out an environmental impact assessment in 2002 with a view to extending Highway 26 into this area, in order to complete the highway system encircling Taiwan.

But the public reacted strongly, fearing the disappearance of one of Taiwan’s last stretches of unspoiled coastline. In 2006, the Ping­tung Environmental Protection Union launched a movement in opposition to Highway 26, gathering the support of tens of thousands, including­ academic­ and artistic groups, and Alangyi Historic Trail was transformed from a little-known section of the coast into a focal point for the news media.

Environmental groups rallied their forces to fight development and preserve nature. However, local residents had different views. Xu­hai Village is a small fishing and farming town known for its hot springs, but a population exodus has gradually led to a decline in the last couple of decades. Residents see the opening of this road as an opportunity for growth, and eagerly await the prosperity it will bring.

Past life of the trail

Many major historic events have taken place along this trail.

During the reign of the Kangxi Emperor (1661–1722), when the Qing court launched a punitive expedition against the rebel Zhu Yi­gui, the imperial troops used this route. In 1721, Zhu, who came from what is now Kao­hsiung, proclaimed himself the heir to the Ming throne and led a revolt against the oppressive magistrate of Taiwan, successfully taking the capital. The Qing government counterattacked, sending troops across the strait, capturing Zhu Yi­gui and routing the rebel forces.

In 1871, a Ryu­kyuan ship was wrecked off the coast of Taiwan near the community of Mu­dan in present-day Ping­tung County, and soon thereafter most of the surviving crew members were massacred by Aborigines. In 1874, Japan launched a punitive expedition to Taiwan. When the Qing government learned that Japan aspired to occupy Taiwan, imperial commissioner Shen Bao­zhen was quickly dispatched to Taiwan to handle the situation and negotiate with the Japanese military.

After the Mu­dan Incident, the Qing government acted quickly to bring an end to the long-held isolated status of eastern Taiwan. They set about building improved defensive and transport systems, opened up new mountain routes to “tame” the “savages,” and expanded the existing route from Lang­jiao (today’s Heng­chun) through Man­zhou Township to Ba­yao Bay, then northward along the Pacific Ocean to Bei­nan in Tai­tung County. With a total length of 203 km, the road became the sole official route into this area of southeastern Taiwan, and was used by officials, troops and Chinese settlers.

In the latter part of World War II, the Japanese army blew up part of the old roadbed to prevent American forces from landing at Xu­hai, cutting off the route. After that, due to long-term military restrictions, fewer and fewer people used the road. This helped keep the landscape in pristine condition and earned it the moniker “the end of the earth.”

Conservation vs. development

In the 1970s, Ken­ding, ­Eluanbi lighthouse at the southern tip of Taiwan and Jia­le­shui, in Man­zhou Township, grew into a vibrant tourist center on the Heng­chun Peninsula. Highway 26 was extended from Feng­gang to Jia­le­shui, and plans were made to push the road through to Anshuo in Taitung County to connect to Highway 9, completing a coastal highway system encircling all of Taiwan.

In 1982, plans to establish Kending National Park were announced, including designating 14 km of coastline from Jia­le­shui to Jiu­peng as the Nan­ren­shan Ecological Protection Area, but local residents kept calling for the road to be improved. The DGH conducted numerous on-site investigations and carried out negotiations with the Ken­ding National Park Headquarters. But the park headquarters, in the name of conservation, vigorously opposed development.

The DGH proposed another development plan in 1999. This time, neither the Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology, which has a missile testing base in Jiupeng, nor the Ministry of National Defense, which managed a naval firing range in Guan­yinbi, Da­ren Township, raised any objections to the plan based on national security reasons. But the Ken­ding National Park Headquarters held fast to its conservationist stance, not allowing development of the coastal road, but instead agreeing to broaden the existing mountain route (Ping­tung Route 200 from Jia­le­shui to Gang­zai). Thus, the two stretches from An­shuo to Xu­hai and from Gang­zai to Jia­le­shui remain to this day the only natural coastlines.

The environmental impact assessment for Highway 26 passed in 2002, but the road-building plan was repeatedly delayed. In 2006, the start of construction was officially announced, but as three years had elapsed since the environmental impact assessment, an analysis of environmental change had to be done. This gave environmental groups the chance to assert their influence, protesting and petitioning while carrying out environmental assessments and lecture tours, so that the public would better understand the uniqueness and importance of the trail.

Eco-corridor, geo-classroom

“This is the only place left on Taiwan’s main island where the rare coconut crab and green sea turtle have been sighted. In Nan­tian, magnificent smooth stones of varying sizes line the dune-swept shores making a gorgeous scene; they’re one of a kind. Numerous natural wild creeks flow out from ravines, telling us that this is a pristine refuge,” describes nature writer Liu Ka-shiang. This is a place of boundless mountains, seas and skies, showing no trace of interference by civilization.

Hung Hui-hsiang, chairman of the Ping­tung Environmental Protection Union and initiator of the effort to save the ­Alangyi Historic Trail, has observed green sea turtles foraging on the coast near Guan­yinbi in each of the last three years. Hung thus called for volunteers to clean up the beaches to give the turtles a clean, safe environment to lay eggs. Moreover, environmental assessments have shown that 49 protected animal species, including civets, pangolins and Formosan serow, roam the area, making this a place of rich biodiversity.

Heading along the undulating coast past rocky beaches and reefs, we encounter a promontory jutting into the sea: this is Guan­yinbi. In olden times, people would watch the tides and make their way past the promontory when the tide was out. Now, with rising sea levels and retreating coastlines, there is no direct way to pass it; instead one must climb the surrounding mountain slopes. This 150-meter-high steep slope can be ascended with ropes, and though strenuous, the effort is worth it for the gorgeous mountain and ocean vistas: azure seas and meandering coastlines as far as the eye can see.

The Pingtung coast is also a national-grade geological classroom. The terrain from Jia­le­shui to Nan­tian retains 10-million-year-old geological features, with vestiges of the slump structures characteristic of the continental slope visible everywhere. Geologists say it has the potential to become a world geological heritage site.

Economic and ecological win-win

In late 2010, Highway 26 passed its analysis of environmental change, and the go-ahead for development was conditionally granted.

Yet in January 2011, as a consequence of the efforts and appeals of environmentalists, the Ping­tung County Government, citing a clause in the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act that reads “If any site of natural landscape value is discovered in the course of a construction project or other development project, ... the discovery shall be reported to the competent authority,” forestalled construction by temporarily designating ­Alangyi as a “natural landscape protected area” for two six-month renewable terms.

Alangyi’s temporary protected status expired on January 18, 2012, bringing advocates of conservation and development to loggerheads. That day, the county government held a committee meeting on the Xu­hai–Guan­yinbi Nature Reserve. Thirteen out of the 14 committee members present voted in favor of preservation, and the resolution passed. Six years of disputes between advocates of completing the highway and advocates of preserving the Alangyi Historic Trail were thus ended.

However, the land falling under this particular nature reserve plan includes 155 hectares of private Aboriginal land, and according to the Indigenous Peoples Basic Law, the government has to respect the opinions of tribespeople in its policies toward Aboriginal reserve land. That day, many Aboriginal landowners, concerned that their private land would be designated part of the nature preserve, thereby limiting economic development, arrived on the scene to express their opposition. In the end, the county government designated these private lands as a buffer zone to reduce the effect on the landowners.

Pingtung County deputy commissioner Chung Chia-pin notes that the only member of the committee not to vote affirmatively held that the local residents had strong needs for local facilities, but the county government had no plans for them, therefore he voted against. Regarding this, Chung says that the county government will work to enhance local eco-tourism, hot-spring hotel and public transportation resources, thereby satisfying residents’ expectations for business and economic livelihood.

Building a low-carbon community

Pingtung Ecological Education Center executive director Chu Yu-hsi laments that Taiwan’s remote areas have long had inadequate medical and educational resources: “Many residents believe that once the road is open, it would take just five minutes to reach Nan­tian. But in reality it won’t be of any help to solve the medical situation, since there’s no major hospital in Nan­tian. The county government should work to strengthen basic local resources. We hope the government can reallocate more than NT$3 billion in road-building funds to finance low-carbon community development.”

Oddly enough, after years of contention, ­Alangyi has finally become a natural landscape preserve. This will attract the attention of even more people to this stretch of coastline. At present, hundreds of people flock here on weekends and holidays, and the Ping­tung County Government has yet to implement its restriction of 300 visitors per day. On top of this, the Tai­tung County Government, which advocates opening the road, doesn’t see eye to eye with Ping­tung on conservation matters, leaving a backdoor at the Tai­tung end wide open. This allows visitors unwitting illegal access to parts of the reserve not managed by Tai­tung.

Thousand Mile Trail Planning Center deputy executive director Hsu Ming-chien writes that Guan­yinbi is geologically sensitive and fragile, and thousands of people walking around here each weekend will be detrimental to the preservation of these world-class natural vistas. A nature reserve isn’t a pleasure ground for the populace: environmental education should be its main role. A solution is for central agencies overseeing cultural assets, such as the Council for Cultural Affairs and the Council of Agriculture, to bring natural landscape preserves under central government control.

He recommends that the Taitung County Government expand the range of the reserve, or develop surrounding communities into “protected areas outside the protected area” for eco-tourism, and provide lodging and meals for tourists at the northern end of the preserve. And highway development funds earmarked by the government could be reallocated to fund the training of eco-tour guides in the two counties, as well as to improve the public transportation and parking facilities at both ends of the reserve.

Taiwan’s populace needs a parcel of land they can get intimate with, where they can take a walk in the woods and commune with the sea. In the bid to transform a low-carbon tourism asset into sustainable tourism income for local residents, Alangyi can be the starting point.

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緩島慢遊.夢想起點 ──阿塱壹古道

文‧葉品妤

這裡有先民數百年來遷移的足跡,奮勇抵禦入侵者的英魂與嘶吼聲仍隱約在岸邊徘迴;這裡有颱風、豪雨衝擊,以及東北季風吹襲,湍急河流筆直下切的陡峭海岸,翻騰的海浪,打磨出圓潤的卵石,造就出世界級的地質景觀。

這裡是台灣少數保有原始風貌的天然海岸,台灣的天涯海角──阿塱壹。


阿塱壹,是原住民語中「男人走的路」,過去數百年來,先民從台灣西南平原、恆春半島往來台東、花蓮之間,走的就是這條古路。

現存阿塱壹古道南北走向,從屏東牡丹鄉旭海村向北延伸到台東達仁鄉南田村,全長近12公里,是目前全台少數沒有現代公路到達的地方,因此交通部公路總局計畫打通台26線,2002年完成環境影響評估,2004年開始進行細部規劃,希望就此貫穿台灣環島公路系統。

但是,民間卻有不小的反彈聲浪,深怕這條「台灣最後一塊海岸淨土」從此消失。2006年屏東環保聯盟發起反對台26線開通運動,獲得學界、藝文團體等數萬人支持,阿塱壹古道從一個不為人知的海岸一角,成為新聞焦點;有段時間,甚至造成不少民眾蜂湧進入,爭相目睹這可能會消失的天然海岸。

環保團體抵禦開發、捍衛自然,師出有名;然而,當地居民卻也有不同想法,旭海村是一個捕魚務農的小村落,以溫泉聞名,但二十多年來人口外流,漸漸沒落,居民因而將開路當成發展的機會,殷切等待開路帶來繁榮。

古道的前世今生

這條古道的命運就如同它的路線一般,高高低低、曲曲折折,同時伴隨著時而波濤洶湧的海浪聲,令人不安。

歷史上,這條古道發生過許多大事。

除了見證先民的遷移足跡外,也是清康熙年間,清廷征伐朱一貴之亂時,部隊行軍所走的路線。1721年,高雄人朱一貴打著明朝後裔旗號,率眾對抗欺壓地方的台灣知府,並一度攻下府城,清廷從中國大陸調兵過海追擊,朱一貴餘黨流亡至此被捕。

光緒年間,日本琉球船隻數度因海難漂流至屏東牡丹社,船員遭原住民殺害,日本以此為由出兵攻打台灣;清廷了解日本有占領台灣的企圖後,急調船政大臣沈葆楨赴台佈署,並與日軍進行交涉。

經過「牡丹社事件」後,清廷亟思突破台灣東部長久以來的孤立狀態,為建立良好的防衛和交通系統,積極開山撫番,開拓舊有的古道路線,修築從琅嶠(今恆春)經滿州鄉到八瑤灣後,沿太平洋北上,再經牡丹灣(今旭海)、阿塱壹溪(今安朔溪),抵達台東卑南的縱貫道路,以聯繫南台灣,這一條成為駐台官吏、軍隊及漢族墾民前往後山唯一的官道,全程約203公里,就是今日的阿塱壹前身。

二次大戰末期,日軍為防止美軍從旭海登陸,炸毀附近部分古道路基,古道不復可見;爾後又因長期軍事管制,沿途人煙稀少,保有原始景觀,而有「海角天涯」之稱。

保育與開發的兩種思維

1970年代,墾丁公園與台灣最南端的鵝鑾鼻燈塔,以及後來開發的滿州鄉佳樂水,成為恆春半島熱鬧的觀光景點;台26線公路,也從屏東楓港延伸至佳樂水,並計畫一路開拓到台東安朔,與台9線連接,完成全台環狀濱海公路系統。

1982年,墾丁國家公園計畫公告後,將佳樂水至九棚這一段長14公里的海岸線,劃為南仁山生態保護區;但地方居民仍不斷陳情改善路況,公路總局多次實地勘查,與墾管處協商,墾管處以生態保育為由,堅持反對開發。

1999年,公路總局再次提出開發計畫,在九棚設有飛彈試射基地的中山科學院,以及在台東達仁鄉觀音鼻設有海軍射擊靶場的國防部,不再反對;但墾管處仍堅守保育立場,不同意開發濱海路段,只同意拓寬山線的既有道路(即屏200線,佳樂水至港仔),因此至今從安朔至旭海,以及港仔至佳樂水這兩段,是台灣海岸線唯一可以向外呼吸的一扇窗口。

台灣海岸線長達一千多公里,攤開地圖,臨海幾乎被環島公路包覆著,公路帶來方便,卻也是切割生態系統的殺手,沿岸都是生冷的消波塊和堅硬的擋土牆。

2002年「台26線安朔—旭海段」通過環評,但開路計畫一再延宕;至2006年工程正式公告進行時,因環評已超過3年未開發,必須再次進行環境差異分析,給了環保團體著力的機會,一邊陳情抗議,一邊進行生態調查與旅遊解說,讓大眾了解古道的特殊性和重要性。

世界級的生態廊道,國家級的地質教室

「罕見的海岸動物椰子蟹和綠蠵龜,在台灣本島的唯一紀錄,只剩下這裡。瑰麗的南田卵石,沿著沙丘海岸,大小錯落,綺麗地綿長鋪陳,也絕無僅有。好幾條天然的小野溪,單獨而完整地流出山谷,更告知了這是一個原始的世外桃源。」自然寫作作家劉克襄形容,這裡只有一望無垠的山海和天空,沒有文明的一絲波動和干擾。

屏東環保聯盟理事長,也是搶救阿塱壹古道的發起人洪輝祥,過去三年來持續發現瀕臨絕種的綠蠵龜在觀音鼻附近的海域覓食。附近部落耆老表示,古道上的一小段沙灘中,曾有綠蠵龜產卵的紀錄。洪輝祥因而號召志工清理沙灘,希望提供給綠蠵龜一個潔淨安全的棲息環境。此外,生態調查也發現包含麝香貓、穿山甲、台灣長鬃山羊等49種保育類動物,生物多樣性的豐富度可見一斑。

沿著海岸在石礫灘與礁岩間高高低低推進前行,半途有處直入海中的岬角即是觀音鼻。早期先民觀察潮汐,在退潮時跳浪通過岬角,如今海平面上升、海岸線內移,已經無法直接通行,必須從旁邊的山坡高遶觀音岬。這段落差達150公尺的陡坡,僅以繩索垂降供民眾攀附,頗為吃力,但辛苦後的成果是視野絕佳的山海美景,極目所見藍色海洋和迤邐延伸的海岸線,讓人驚嘆!

屏東海岸更是國家級的地質教室。從墾丁佳樂水至南田沿海的海岸地質,保留了約一千萬年前的古地理景觀,位於亞洲大陸東南方大陸斜坡的恆春半島,見證了台灣島沉於深海的地史紀錄;地理學界認為,具有申請世界地質遺產的潛質。踏走在沿岸的礁岩上,就能看到崩落海岸的巨大礁石,訴說著地理變化的故事。

期盼:環境與經濟雙贏

2010年底,「台26線安朔—旭海段」通過了環評差異分析,可以有條件地進行開發。

然而在環保人士積極奔走呼籲,力保聲浪高漲下,2011年1月,屏東縣政府以《文化資產保存法》中「營建工程或開發行為若遇上具有自然地景價值者,應即報主管機關依文資法審議辦理」的條文,兩度將阿塱壹暫訂為「自然地景保護區」(每次為期半年),暫緩了開發。

今年1月,阿塱壹的暫時保護期限又已屆滿,保育與開發的兩種思維面臨正式對決的難題。1 月18日,屏東縣政府大樓聚集了數百人,一邊是呼籲搶救的環保人士,另一邊是支持開路的民意代表和當地居民,兩路人馬壁壘分明。

最後在縣政府主持的「旭海─觀音鼻自然保留區」審議會上,當天14位出席委員中,高達13位同意保留,決議通過保留案,6年來「環島公路網」與「阿塱壹古道」的開發對抗保護的爭議案,自此劃下句點。

不過,由於此次的保留區劃設範圍緊鄰155公頃私有的原住民土地,依照《原住民族基本法》的規定,政府對於原住民保留地的政策,應尊重族人意見;當天不少原住民地主因擔心私有土地被劃設為保留地,將限制經濟發展,紛紛到場表示反對。最後縣政府在兼顧環境保護和居民生活考量下,將私人土地先納入「緩衝區」,以期降低對地主的影響。

屏東縣副縣長鍾佳濱表示,決議會上唯一沒有投下贊成票的委員認為,當地民眾對於地方設施的需求強烈,但縣府並沒有相關規劃,所以持反對意見。對此,鍾佳濱說,縣府會加強當地對生態旅遊、溫泉民宿,以及大眾運輸的資源投入,以滿足居民對經濟生活與產業的期待。

願景:打造低碳社區

「工作才剛開始,我們要推動一個完全不一樣的保護區。」屏東縣環保聯盟理事長洪輝祥說,靠近保留區的牡丹鄉、滿州鄉、車城鄉居民,長期因公路不貫通,非常期盼開發,現在政府劃設為保留區後,就有條件發展低碳生態旅遊與慢活空間,環盟將持續推動自然保留區「共管機制」,讓在地居民也能享受自然景觀保留的好處。

屏東教師會理事長朱玉璽感嘆,台灣偏遠地區長期以來面臨醫療和教育資源不足的問題,不少居民以為開路後到達台東南田只要5分鐘,但其實這對改善醫療困境並沒有幫助,因為南田也沒有大型醫院,縣府應加強在地基礎資源的投入。希望政府能把編列的三十多億開路基金,轉移為低碳社區發展基金。

弔詭的是,經過多年抗爭,阿塱壹終於成為自然地景保留區,卻讓這段海岸線吸引更多人的目光,如今每逢假日即湧入數百人,屏東縣政府的單日300人總量管制,並未落實;更甚者,主張開路的台東縣政府與屏東縣不同調,形成台東後門大開,讓遊客不明就裡的違法進入不屬於台東管轄的保留區範圍內。

「千里步道籌畫中心」副執行長徐銘謙為文指出,觀音鼻地質敏感脆弱,假日動輒上千人踩踏,加上雨水沖刷的力道,以及繩索綁縛沿途樹木與植被,對世界級自然景觀破壞甚鉅;自然保留區不是大眾遊樂區,功能在於環境教育而非大眾遊憩。解決之道是,主管文化資產的文建會與農委會等中央部會,應將自然地景保留區提高位階為中央層級。

他建議,台東縣政府應擴大保留區範圍,或者將周邊社區輔導發展為「保護區外的保護區」生態旅遊緩衝帶,在保留區北端提供食宿服務,留下遊客,就能形成生態旅遊產業鏈。而政府原先編列的公路開發經費,也可轉為培訓兩縣市的解說員經費,並用以改善保留區兩端的大眾運輸、停車場設施,促進社區發展。

洪輝祥估算,若以每年50萬人次造訪,來此體驗野菜採集、漁撈的原民文化,每人住宿和旅遊消費以2,000元計算,約可為當地創造一百億元商機,這才是永續環境經營的思維。

台灣民眾需要一塊可以親近土地,走進森林,迎向大海的慢活空間,將低碳旅遊資產,轉化為當地住民的永續觀光財,就從阿塱壹開始。

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