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A Lesson about the Taikang Watershed

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Taikang is a flat terrain with a port. A port, often times, is where the river meets the sea. Usually near the estuary, river flows converge and form wetlands. At the same time, however, the function of the port is also greatly influenced by the river flow rates, as well as the waves and tides along the coast. Some estuary ports can be limited by heavy silting in the winter, as the “Mountain and River Section” in Fongshan County’s General Records points out, “In the winter the port is silted by the sand flows, and in the spring or summer, the water flow contributed by great rainfall flushes open the silting sand so that the port can function again.” The waves of the river and the sea interacting with each other are indeed the most magnificent view in the estuary, where the story of centuries unfolds.

A study of the estuarine terrain in Southwestern Taiwan in 1995 indicates that in the summer when the river runoff is plenty, the tidal currents can flush away the silting sand in the estuary, and that in the winter, the water is not as plenty and the estuary is likely to be silted. In addition, there is another significant factor that influences the volume of sand silted in the estuary – the stormy tides brought about by typhoons. When typhoons strike, in areas where the estuary coast slope is relatively flat, there is often seawater intrusion which washes away the sand in the rivers, accelerating the rate at which the estuary alluvial fan moves west (into the sea). From 1904 to 1990, for example, the Zengwun River estuary has been extended for nearly 6 kilometers into the Taiwan Strait, moving an average of 70 meters per year. In other words, it is the Zengwun River that made a lot of land in Taikang come into being. The Zengwun River transported a great volume of sand through the vast estuary into the sea. The sand turned into offshore sandbanks and the sandbanks were later silted into wetlands near the estuary. These wetlands formed a flat terrain near the sea, a wide stretch of land with water and fertile soil. Thus, it is obvious that the Zengwun River helped the Taikang residents in a way, but it actually cost them a lot of mishaps as well…

Oh, the land of Taijiang, your mother the Zengwun River

The river’s estuary turned west from south, your watershed was changing forever

The locals had to leave home, they were downcast for this reason

Oh, the ample Zengwun River, you abound in water life in every season

You nurture many families and provide an environment of culture

The fertile land yields fruits and greens, and also the river sand from nature

The sand taken home, shacks built so we could sleep tight as ever

─“Mother, the Zengwun River” by Wang Jin-shu

In 1823, a flood changed the history of Taikang. The inner sea in places such as Chaitougang, Jhouzihwei, Sankandian, Dingciwun, Wan’gangkou and Jianliao was silted into floating sandbanks. The newly-formed sandbanks, a bit more than 10 kilometers wide east to west and a bit more than 20 kilometers long north to south, are where the Annan District and Jhengzihliao in the North District currently lie. As a con sequence, the terrain there became sloped so the old river course was no longer in existence. This brought about the disappearance of the cultivation business in offshore Taikang Inner Sea in places like Jhuojia, Hansi, Sigangzih, Jhihjianong, Ganliao, and Wan’gangkou. The affected area was about 18 kilometers long north to south. The efforts put in the cultivation business had lasted for almost a century (from 1755 on) but was destroyed due to the flood. The communities around the Inner Sea were thus faced with the pressure of transformation: residents (most of whom were fishermen or boatmen) had to change their lifelong career path. The newly-formed floating sandbanks were composed of an estimated total of 200,006,900 cubic meters of sand in volume. The rich sand washed downstream by the Zengwun River first formed the offshore sandbanks in Taikang, and these sandbanks were later silted into the Taikang tidal land.

We often hear the saying “Man can always conquer nature.” However, history has proven that there are limits to the extent that men should challenge nature. The Taikang people tried to claim land from the Inner Sea, but in the end, when Mother Nature fights back, the result of years of efforts vanished in a blink. That is exactly why we should respect and learn from nature and our environment. Humans must be humble and follow the principle of moderation. With this in mind, Taikang Watershed Center was established and it now helps promote the following events/networks:

  • Forming “Taikang Watershed School Network” to raise awareness of river protection among school kids
  • Cultivating river environment pilots and starting related courses and activities (regarding river governance, river environmental education, etc.)
  • Building the “Taikang River Governance Public Participation Platform” to integrate the resources from local temples and neighboring communities (by forming networks and cultivating volunteers)
  • Organizing “River Protection NGO Think Tank Conference” by inviting ecology experts, scholars, and teachers in local schools to contribute to the online database of river governance; with Taikang Campus and Chao Huang Temple as the center, the Taikang Watershed Center also helps local schools and communities plan curriculum step by step, allowing locals to learn more about Taikang and river protection; at the same time, the Center also tries to facilitate the cooperation of the public sector and NGOs so that policies can be communicated and the public can also be included in the dedication of water resources protection
Taijiang Watershed Center - Sea
Taijiang Watershed Center - Forest

The following are the major events or documents organized (or compiled) by the Taikang Watershed Center:

  1. Taikang Shanhaizun (which means “mountain, sea, and canal”) Green Trail Movement: The Green Trail Movement seeks to combine river protection and public participation. Trees will be planted in order to make the environment greener along the way from the estuary of Taikang (the Sihcao Lake) to the Wusanto Reservoir in the upstream and, of course, along the Chianan Canal. The Green Trail is estimated to be 45 kilometers in total and it will be divided in parts including Taikang Life Protection Green Trail, Life and Culture Green Trail, Heritage Green Trail, and Hatta Green Trail (in commemoration of the Japanese hydraulic engineer Yoichi Hatta, the designer of Chianan Canal and Wusanto Reservoir). The Green Trial will be the longest green trail in Taiwan and will pass Taikang National Park, National Museum of Taiwan History, and Wusanto Reservoir, connecting the three elements of Tainan’s past developments – mountain, sea, and canal.
  2. Workshops, case studies, and records:
    • Analysis Report on the Difference of the Environment of Chengsi Incinerator Landfill (Phase IV) and Literature Database of Ecology Conservation Regarding the Chengsi Windbreak Forest in Taikang National Park
    • Watershed Case Study Social Camp
    • Ecology records in the watershed
    • Temple and Watershed Culture Salon
    • River protection promotion activities
    • Industrial area studies in Sinji, Heshun, etc.
  3. Festivals and events
    • Hiking and riverbank cleansing events, such as Beadtree Watching and Garbage Collecting Day, the event “Make Our Home Clean” Day, and so on
    • Taikang Riverside Worshipping Concert: the most important cultural festival among the river protection activities in Taikang
    • Taikang Youth Hiking Trip: initially started out as the Taikang Youth Evening Hiking Trip (initiated by the “Little Taikang River Study Group”) More details: During the Hiking Trip, young students hike around Taikang in order to get to know the local rivers. They also visit temples and fish farms so as to learn about the local folk beliefs of Dadaogong and Matsu and the local history of fish farming. Other sites along the trip include Taikang Inner Sea, North Shanwei Coast, Taikang National Park, Chianan Canal, Lu’ermen, and Taikang Shanhaizun Green Trail. After finishing the trip, the students can know more about the history of Taikang and its culture, rivers, coasts and wetlands. The trip also challenges the students’ stamina to hike, as they need to walk long distances to go into the fish farms, wetlands, temples, and local villages as they try to understand how the ecology, history, and environment of Taikang influence one another. The trip is intended to make these young students the new generation to protect the Taikang Watershed and make Taikang a sustainable place with culture, life, and energy.
Taijiang Watershed Center - bicycle
Taijiang Watershed Center - Outdoor activities
Taijiang Watershed Center - Indoor activities


  1. Wu, Mao-cheng. Taijiang Inner Sea and Its Villages. Tainan: Cultural Affairs Bureau, Tainan City Government, 2013. 199, 232. Print.
  2. Taijiang Watershed Center, Taijiang Campus, Tainan Community University: Taijiang Watershed Center, Taijiang Campus, Tainan Community University

*photos provided by Taijiang Campus, Tainan Community University