Yesterday I visited the Alishan area to look at an area of land that is proposed for a village relocation. The relocation plan is being put forward by members of the Laiji (來吉) community following the impacts of Typhoon Morakot. Some academics and people from the local government met with community members and were taken on a tour of the proposed site.
The site is called Toeuana in the Tsou (鄒) language. Up until about 100 years ago it was used by the Tsou as a hunting ground and living space. There are still signs of this earlier habitation. The main one is rocks that have been moved into rows to clear the fields for cultivation of millet and other crops. That these rocks are still in place is evidence that the area is safe and geographically stable.
Over the past hundred years there have still been human activities going on in this area. The Japanese used the site as a nursery for growing cedar. Presently the land is managed as a plantation by the Forestry Bureau. There is an access road to the site in two directions and also an electricity supply. The Alishan Forest Railway line is about 200 metres vertically above the site.
There is still a need to negotiate with the county government before work on constructing a new village at the site can begin. The important thing about this relocation is that the initiative has come from the community itself rather than pressure from the government or other outside groups. Toeuana will be an interesting case to watch.