Trails conference focuses on sustainability via local, global cooperation

12/02/2022 06:22 PM
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U.S.-based Appalachian Trail Conservancy holds a symposium on climate change on Friday. CNA photo Dec. 2, 2022
U.S.-based Appalachian Trail Conservancy holds a symposium on climate change on Friday. CNA photo Dec. 2, 2022

Taipei, Dec. 2 (CNA) Attendees at the 4th Asia Trails Conference on Friday exchanged their experiences operating sustainable trails, highlighting the importance of international cooperation and community participation.

The five-day conference in Taipei, which celebrates the world's greenways and the pairing of hiking trails in Taiwan with those from around the world, underscores ways to make the trails more resilient and accessible, particularly in the face of challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic and global warming.

Lin Hwa-ching (林華慶), director general of the Forestry Bureau, said in a speech it is crucial to solicit community input for trail operations, allowing residents to plan the services they can provide to boost the local economy.

A good example is the contribution made by the Indigenous Tsou people to the Mountains to Sea National Greenway, which was established in 2018 and connects the central mountain range with coastal areas in southern Taiwan's Tainan, Lin said.

During the conference, which is being attended by 84 international experts from nine countries and regions, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the bureau and the Bruce Trail Conservancy in Canada to establish it as a sister trail with the Mountains to Sea National Greenway.

In addition, the attendees paid tribute to 100 years of trail history, since the establishment of the Appalachian Trail in the United States in 1921.

CNA photo Dec. 2, 2022
CNA photo Dec. 2, 2022

The 3,500-kilometer trail, an initiative led by Benton MacKaye, has become an inspiration for the thru-hiking tradition and a positive force for wilderness protection, said Laura Belleville, vice president of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy's Conservation & Policy Division.

After the Dec. 2-3 symposium, attendees will have a chance to experience first hand some of Taiwan's popular trails, according to the event's organizer, the Taiwan Thousand Miles Trail Association (TMI Trail).

Masafumi Saito, a long-distance hiker and trail columnist from Japan, will personally spend about 70 days traversing the Tamsui-Kavalan Trails, the Mountains to Sea National Greenway and the Raknus Selu Trail before returning to Japan on Jan. 13.

TMI Trail and the trails conference are part of the Asia Trails Network, the regional body of the World Trails Network, which connects and advocates for hiking and scenic trail experiences internationally.

(By Yang Shu-min, James Lo and Lee Hsin-Yin)

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