TCU USR Hub: The Guangfu Ecology Study Group Discovered Many Local Spotlights

The Guangfu Ecology Study Group was funded by the Center for University Social Responsibility of the Ministry of Education, and was composed of Hualien residents and Tzu Chi University students. Group members set off for Da Nong Da Fu Forest Park during the weekend, to observe and record the ecological and cultural sites of plants and birds along the way, by making a stop at Dafu Community, located at the southern end of Guangfu Township. At the park, students observed and recorded plants and birds, as well as the natural landscape, and they were able to apply what they had learned from the natural science courses offered by the Center for General Education. Moreover, the students invited local residents to learn with them, and they appreciated the local uniqueness from their ecological viewpoints.

Taking this outdoor ecological and humanistic course was a first time experience for many of the students. They were excited about observing creatures in Dafu at night, getting up early in the morning to watch birds through telescopes, and chatting with the elderly in the community, to learn the rise and fall of Daho Village, and so on. “The ecological condition does affect people’s decisions”, said Professor Tian-Cai Chen who led the group. He noticed that most Guangfu residents live on the western side of the Coastal Mountain Range, which has something to do with the water supply. Moreover, the local soil is suitable for growing sugarcane, so a sizable sugar industry was set up here, in the past.

The sugar industry is no longer flourishing and flatland-afforestation has replaced sugarcane fields. Flatland Forest Park, next to Dafu, is a rare green corridor in the East Rift Valley, which is a place where seasonal migratory birds choose to stay. Getting up in the early morning to watch birds was quite exciting, and the students saw winter migratory birds, such as the white-browed thrush and the Pacific golden plover. Some unusual birds, such as swallow plovers, are summer migratory birds. Bird watchers have speculated that swallow plovers might choose to stay here for the winter. “Viewed with my ecological eyes, I realize that so many interesting things are around me”, one student said. Group members shared what they have learned with Dafu Community’s residents on December 12, 2020.

To fulfill the University Social Responsibility requirement, the Center for General Education organized the Guangfu Ecology Study Group in fall 2020, to provide opportunities for students to walk into the countryside and gain first-hand learning experiences. The Center also expects students to work with local residents, to better understand the local natural environment from an ecological point of view. Through long-term joint efforts, the Center also wishes local residents can live sustainably and care for ecological sustainability. If you are interested in joining this group, please access for more information and call Ms. Huang, 0974-146-720 for details.