Residents Say Tree Planting Causing Congestion 屏鵝公路近日頻塞車 居民批「種樹百里工程」

Congestion has been occurring on Ping-E Highway. Local residents say it's due to a project by the Directorate General of Highways to plant trees.

Ping-E Highway is one of the main access roads to Hengchun peninsula. Traffic jams have frequently occurred as of late, reducing the average speed to less than 20 kilometers per hour. Local residents say it's related to a Directorate General of Highways project to plant trees. On July 1, it launched the 2.0 version of a project to plant trees along the highway. It is spending NT$680 million to improve the flora along the 112-kilometer-long highway. Environmental groups say this project basically consists of chopping down trees and planting new ones, and is a waste of manpower and resources. Moreover, over 60 percent of the trees that will be planted are foreign species.

Chuang Chieh-jen, Chairperson, Forest City Association: “They're extensively digging up existing shrubs, over 100,000 of them, and then planting new shrubs. They're destroying trees too.”

Yang Kuo-chen, Former Chairperson, Taiwan Academy of Ecology: “What issues have you found with existing things that are making you eliminate them? Once you plant new ones, will the issues be gone? You need to say what they are.”

Other groups say what residents need the most is a highway, not for the government to uproot trees and then plant new trees. They said the project needs to be suspended.

Chang I, Member, Executive Committee, TEPU: “There is absolutely no need for it. The entire road is a verdant corridor. What the people of Hengchun want the most is a highway, yet the government refuses to give them that.”

Chen Jiau-hua, Legislator (NPP): “I would like to ask the National Audit Office to examine the budget of this project and the Directorate General of Highways to postpone the implementation of this tree planting project until it can provide a detailed explanation about it.”

Chuang Chiang-lung, Chief Engineer, Maintenance Division, DGH: “We're not eliminating everything, we're implementing it in a principled way of replanting and reviewing.”

The DGH said the project is about eliminating unsuitable trees, not eliminating all trees. It will address the congestion by carrying out the work in segments and not working on weekends.