Cheng Long Wetlands, located in rural Yunlin County on the southwestern coast ofTaiwan, is a land subsidence area. Cheng Long village used to be a farmland in former times. Twenty-five years ago, a typhoon had a great impact on this area and caused a serious saltwater intrusion and submerged about a hundred hectares of farmland and fish farms, and this land has now become Cheng Long Wetlands.
In this offshore village, living conditions were already very tough. The agricultural land was no longer farmable after the flood. Although some farmers changed their lifestyle to become fishermen, others had trouble surviving; many villagers were in despair about the flooded land.
After the assessment of the flooded farmland at Cheng Long village, the Forestry Bureau thought that Cheng Long Wetlands is near the Ao Gu Wetlands, a national wetland located in Chia-Yi county, and that it had excellent ecological and recreational potential. From 2005, the Forestry Bureau started to lease 41 hectares of the flooded agricultural land allowing the land to lay fallow for a long term to slow down the speed of subsidence, and began the process of restoration to let Cheng Long Wetlands become an ecological paradise.
After several years of hard work, Cheng Long Wetlands has become a paradise for fish, shrimp, crabs, shellfish and many birds. 86 species of birds have been recorded in recent years (101species of birds were recorded in year 2011); both the variety and quantity are very respectable. Although there is a rich biodiversity in the wetlands, residents still felt alienated from the Wetlands. With this attitude, the wetlands did not provide any positive effects on their life. Sustainable management of natural resources requires the support of community residents in order to bring the benefit to each other. For this reason, the Forestry Bureau hopes the villagers can realize that Cheng Long Wetlands can play an important role in community development, and then think about the sustainable development of the community and the wetlands.
With this background, Kuan Shu Educational Foundation was invited by the Forestry Bureau to promote environmental education inChengLongVillagebeginning in the summer of 2009. The Cheng Long Wetlands International Environmental Art Project – Children and Artists Celebrate the Wetlands was one of the main environmental education programs for the year 2010. The purpose of this project was to let the community inhabitants and the general public pay attention to environmental issues.The art project aroused residents’ concern with Cheng Long Wetlands successfully. Artists coming to this rustic village was a great event, especially foreign artists. The fact that artists from theUSA,FranceandIndiaas well as other parts ofTaiwanare willing to come to this barren land and create environmental sculpture artworks made some villagers start to think. That is the most important benefit from this art project.
On the other hand, villagers accepting these visitors and participating in the artworks enthusiastically was another achievement of this project. Creating a grand sculpture installation is not the most important point of the Cheng Long Wetlands International Environmental Art Project, but rather helping residents to reconsider their environment and community during the art project process. It seems this goal was reached. Almost all of the Cheng Long villagers have devoted themselves to this project in some way, such as enthusiastically providing living places for artists and volunteers, assisting artists to get materials and tools for their creations, and demonstrating the traditional way to set up an oyster frame for artists’ references. The villagers made this project into their own festival.Also, the Art project has attracted a lot of concern about land subsidence and wetlands environmental issues through media coverage. In the global warming days, the sea level is rising. Building a dyke to stop water flooding onto the land subsidence area is not a good way to deal with dramatic climate changes. Holding the Cheng Long Wetlands International Environmental Art Project provides a good chance for the people to think about how to adjust to the current trends in global warming, how to establish a new concept of land ethics, and to learn to live in coexistence with water. That is a serious topic we need to face and think deeply about today.
The 2011 Cheng Long Wetland Environmental Art Project on the theme of “dreaming of greener wetlands” involved artists from Bulgaria, Indonesia, and Peru as well as 2 artists from other parts of Taiwan coming to live and work in Cheng Long to make artworks with the children and community that could address issues about how to make things “greener” in Cheng Long, not only actual green plants but “green” in the sense of better for the environment. Some of the 2011 artworks are still surviving after typhoons and a hot summer and are now producing green living plants in the wetland that can provide habitat and food for the birds and wildlife.
In 2012, since the main way of making a living in Cheng Long is involved with seafood production, we decided to focus the art project on the theme of “What’s for Dinner?” emphasizing organic aquaculture and sustainable practices in seafood production. We hope that the artworks the artists propose and make this year will raise public awareness about not using so much pesticide or herbicide in fish farming and finding better ways to raise fish, shrimp, clams, oysters and other seafood that will be good for humans and good for the environment.
For information about how to submit a proposal for 2012, please see the previous Posts. Please also check the information about possible sites and possible materials the artists can use in 2012 on the Blog at https://artproject4wetland.wordpress.com or contact Curator, Jane Ingram Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for artist’s proposals for the 2012 art project is February 8, 2012.