Dawushan Nature Reserve



Date of Proclamation June 8, 1988
Size of Area (ha) 47,000
Primary Object for Protection Wildlife, and their Habitat, Forest, Lake
Scope of Administration The 2-10, 12-20, 24-30 compartment of Dawu Working Circle; the 18-26, 35-43, 45-50, 51 compartment of Taitung Working Circle except mining lands and mining-truck paths as well as Payuchih of the Pingtung Forest District Office, Taitung County and forestlands in the eastern part of nearby county boundaries
Authority in-charge-of Taitung and Pingtung Forest District Office


Dawushan(大武山) was a high peak in the southern part of Central Mountain Range in Taiwan, and its eastern and western segments were steep precipices. The landform in the mountain area was like a huge rectangular horst which was surrounded by precipitous scars. Therefore, it formed an independent landscape itself. In this area, elevation changed greatly and streams dropped dramatically. The erosion in the upstream river was quite vigorous, thus forming a landscape of many waterfalls, potholes, swift currents, and lakes. This nature reserve was in a remote area and in a shortage of any communication means. People were not easy to come here. In Taiwan, it was one of the rare places that were without any highway to intersect. Thus, there was little human disturbance here, and the conservation of the native forest remained complete. Moreover, there were many kinds of wildlife and the amounts of them were larger than those in other nature reserves. It was a complete ecosystem that was worthy to be well preserved in Taiwan.

The appeal for establishing this nature reserve was initiated by Dr. Severinghaus (謝孝同博士) since 20 years ago. He was the person who found a large number of Mikado's pheasant and Swinhoe’s pheasant . However, his appeal was not appreciated by authorities concerned. In 1986 an American animal research expert Dr. Rabinowitz (羅彬慈博士) paid a visit to Taiwan, he proposed that Dawushan Nature Reserve was the place that Neofelis nebulosa brachyurus(Formosan clouded leopard) were most likely to appear. At that time, the common practice of protection and preservation had started to establish. Therefore, the Council of Agriculture(農委會) assembled researchers from all walks of life to investigate personally in Dawushan. After studying for many years, people gained valuable information. Finally, in Jan 1988, the Council of Agriculture officially acclaimed Dawushan as Dawushan Nature Reserve Area(大武山自然保留區). Its area was 47,000 hectares, which was the biggest nature reserve in Taiwan and it was even larger than Yangmingshan National Park and Kenting National Park.


This nature reserve was located in the eastern slopes of the southern part of Central Mountain Range. It belonged to Taimali Township, Jinfong Township and Daren Township in the Taitung County, which was the 18-26, 35-43(part of the 41st compartment) compartment, 45-51(part of the 51st compartment) compartment of Taitung Working Circle, Taitung Forest District Office; the 2-10, 12-20, 24-30 compartment of Dawu Working Circle and the 25th compartment—Payuchih—of the Pingtung Working Circle, Pingtung Forest District Office. Five watershed areas in Jhihben, Taimali Township, Jinlun, Dajhu, Lijia were included. Its elevation was from 200 to 3,100 m; its total area was 47,000 hectares. It was the biggest and the most complete native broad-leaved forest ever since in Taiwan.

It was subordinate to Taimali Township, Daren Township and Jinfong Township in the Taitung County. In west, it reached to Dawushan—the southern part of the Central Mountain Range—near the Pingtung County; in north was about 20km to the Taitung City. In east was about 16km to Taimali Township; in south was about 17km to Dawushan.

The main ridge of the Central Mountain Range was in the southern part of Jhihbenshan(知本山), but suddenly it turned to the west and then to the south. Finally, it reached to Wutoushan(霧頭山), to the north and south of Dawushan, and to Yidingshan(衣丁山), thus forming the so-called Dawu horst. This nature reserve was located in the eastern slopes of the ridge of those above-mentioned mountain areas. The ridge was a divide in southern Taiwan. Therefore, most rivers in this area poured into the Pacific Ocean eastward. They were the watersheds in the upstream of the Jhihben River(知本溪), Taimali River(太麻里溪), Jinlun River(金崙溪), Dajhu River(大竹溪), etc.

An Introduction

In this area, the height distribution covered in a wide range (elevation: 200-3,100 m), and its temperature varied in accordance with different elevations. In the mountain area about 200 m², the annual temperature was 22.5 ℃; the average temperature was 16 ℃ in January, and 27 ℃ in July. In the mountain area above 3,000 m² , the annual temperature was 7.5 ℃; the average temperature was 15.5 ℃in January, and 11.5-Celsius degree in July. With a high intensity rainfall, the annual rainfall here was 4400-4800 mm. And the rainfall was mostly from April to September. It was a climate with high humidity. Therefore, the rainfall of the dry winter (from November to next March) was lesser, about 500mm/per month; the rainfall of the pluvial summer (from April to September) was heavy, about 500-800mm/per month. The days of raining in summer were few, but when it rained, it was abrupt and intensive. Thus, flood was often to be seen in this mountain area. Moreover, this situation caused serious river erosion, a large number of detritus, and mud and gravel sands also poured into rivers.

There were three kinds of basic geology structures in this nature reserve, including (1) schist from the end of the Paleozoic Era to the Mesozoic Era, (2) Pilushan Formation(畢祿山層) of the Eocene epoch, and (3) Lushan Formation(蘆山層) of the Miocene epoch. They were predominated by shale and slate, sometimes mixed up with the folium of thin sandstone and limestone. The cleavage of geology structure and its fold axial plane were in a south-to-north or north-northeast direction. Since Taiwan had a limited land and high population density, forestlands in low-to-middle elevations had been developed or interfered by humankinds in different degrees. In contrast, Dawushan Nature Reserve, although in a low-to-middle elevation, still remained a large area of complete virgin broad-leaved forests. As for middle-to-high elevations, since there was no highway intersecting its forestland, it was well preserved. Besides, forestlands from low elevation to high elevation were intact and consecutive, which was a hard-to-be-seen reserve in Taiwan. Accordingly, this was a good environment for wildlife to inhabit. Many rare and endangered species or species that can represent the characteristics of Taiwan were also can be found here.

In addition to intact forestlands and rich wildlife species, the landform in this nature reserve was various as well. High peaks, steep slopes, rushing rivers with the characteristics of young topography and old-age topography, narrow watercourses, great divergence of river banks and riverbeds, waterfalls, potholes, rushing rivers, deep rivers—all these were often to be seen. Another characteristic was landslide in the Taimali River, substantial and in a large scale. Moreover, in the ridge of the connected mountains were precipices and bluffs or jagged rocks of grotesque shapes, which were hard to climb.

Alpine lakes were also included in this nature reserve. In north Siaogwei Lake, which was in the upstream of Laonong River(荖濃溪); in northwest was the Siaogwei Lake(also called Payuchih), which was in the upstream of Yiliao River(隘寮溪). Its total area was 47,000 hectares, and most of it was national forest and remained in natural state. There was about 93% of the nature reserve was forest-covered areas, and most of the cover areas were natural forest. Others were roads, buildings, and places for mining, but they only took a few areas. Steep slopes and inconvenient traffic attributed to seldom human disturbance. Therefore, most areas in this nature reserve remained its natural appearance.

Biological Resources

Due to climate limitations, the distribution of forestlands in this reserve was from low elevation to high elevation, including subtropical broad-leaved forest formation, warm-temperate broad-leaved forest formation, warm-temperate hardwood-coniferous mixed forest formation, and cold-temperate coniferous forest formation. All these formations almost contained all the vegetation zones of Taiwan. Moreover, another important characteristic in this reserve was that due to further south altitude, higher temperature and lack of height of the mountains, coniferous plant communities in cold-temperate and warm-temperate zones were oversimplified. For example, in the mountains of central and northen Taiwan, Picea morrisonicola, Chamaecyparis obtusa var.formosana, Cunninghamia konishii, Taiwania cryptomerioides Hayata, Pseudotsuga wilsoniana Hayata, and Calocedrus formosana were often to be seen. On the contrary, they were in short in this nature reserve. Relatively, broad-leaved trees were abundant. Therefore, the biological diversity was very great, and another concern was that this kind of ecological environment had a great possibility for Neofelis nebulosa brachyurus(Formosan clouded leopard) to inhabit. In addition, in accordance with the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act, endangered species such as Ursus thibetanus formosanus (Formosan black bears), otter, Lophura swinhoii, Syrmaticus mikado(Mikado pheasant), Spizaetus nipalensis fokiensis Sclater(Hodgson's hawk eagle), Oriolus traillii(Maroon oriole), Deinagkistrodon acutus(Hundred-pace pit viper), Troides aeacus kaguya (Nakahara & Esaki), and Varicorhinus alticorpus were still bountiful. Mammals like Macaca cyclopis(Formosa macaque), Taiwan wild pigs, Taiwan native goats, Muntiacus reevesii micrurus(Formosan reeve's muntjac) were even grew more abundantly. High mountains, steep peaks, many rushing rivers, ample precipices, and steep landforms—all these made this natural land have few human disturbances and made forest vegetations remained nature. In Taiwan this nature reserve can be regarded as a heaven for fauna and flora.

A preliminary research revealed that there were at least 28 mammals, 85 birds, 10 amphibians, 22 reptiles, 19 fishes, 28 butterflies, and countless insects. However, factors like vast area, landform, traffic, climate, time and manpower limited the research. Therefore, in fact, there were more many rich animal resources in this nature reserve than we expected.

Heavy rainfall made the vegetations varied according to different elevations. Vegetation types from low to high were:
  • tropical monsoon-climate rainforest formation, and its indicative plants were Bischofia javanica Bl., M. kusanoi, Ficus irisana, Ficus ampelas, Dendrocnide meyeniana, Arenga engleri Beccari; 
  • subtropical montane broad-leaved forest formation, and its indicative plants were Pasania kawakamii, Cyclobalanopsis sessilifolia, Kashchu, Cyclobalanopsis longinux(Long-glans oak), Pasania hancei f. ternaticupula, Cyclobalanopsis glauca, Neolitea konishii, Machilus thunbergii, and Machilus japonica;
  • warm-temperate montane hardwood-coniferous forest formation, and its indicative plants were Cyclobalanopsis morii and Trochodendron aralioides;
  • temperate montane coniferous forest formation, and its indicative were Chamaecyparis formosensis Matsum and Taxus mairei;
  • temperate mountainous coniferous forest formation, and its indicative plants were Tsuga chinensis and Ilex tsugitakayamensis Sasaki. It had its own complete ecosystem and the degree of forest fragmentation was low.

Since the animal resources in this nature reserve had little disturbance, complex geographic structure and forest ecosystem were well preserved. Compared with Yushan National Park, Taroko National Park and Shei-Pa National Park, this nature reserve and each of those three national parks had its own characteristic in terms of species and quantity of fauna and flora. Thus, each of them was wilderness land worthy to protect in Taiwan. This reserve had many rare and endangered species, especially the possibility of exsistance of Neofelis nebulosa brachyurus(Formosan clouded leopard). And this can illustrate the good condition of the complete ecosystem in the Dawushan Nature Reserve.

Conservation Results Till Now

Dawushan Nature Reserve had a vast area, and it was the biggest nature reserve in Taiwan. Nature area was above 90%, which was a feature that was superior to the five national parks in Taiwan. According to the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act, this land area was established as Dawushan Nature Reserve in 1988. Its major protected features were wildlife, and their habitat, forest, lake. In accordance with the concerned law, this reserve was prohibited from changing and destructing its natural appearance. Currently, this reserve had its own yearly-managed protection plan every year. Taitung Forest District Office and Dawu Working Circle used the way of team works and temporaries with the cooperation of administration concerned and police units to carry out the work of protection and patrolling strictly, to demolish hunting traps that were against the law, and to discourage people from illegal behaviors like hunt, poison, crampfish in order to enhance the protection of wildlife.

Other menaces they were faced with were the pressure of traveling when tourists traveled in Siaogwei Lake and Bilu hot spring. Authorities concerned should manage, discourage, communicate, negotiate, and even control the number of people who traveled here in order to maintain a stable quality in this nature reserve.

This area covered a wide range, and there were many pathways—Jhihben forest road, Yima forest road, Dasii forest road, Dawu forest road and other roads—that people can arrive here. At each entrance of the roads were no controlling stops; there were only bulletin boards to warn people not to come in. Moreover, although management agency had sent people to patrol and to demolish hunting traps irregularly, assembled people in their village to held meetings, and sent people to propagate the concept of natural environment protection, all these could not prevent people from coming here randomly, climbing, stealing, or picking all the resources here. Furthermore, a preset constructive highway (new Nanhen Freeway) was still controversial.

Therefore, solutions to these problems were to establish controlling fences and to stop any vehicle from entering in order to decrease the pressure of hunting and stealing. Besides, setting up controlling stops and complete patrolling system could attribute to the effects of management.

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Visit counts:2100 Last updated on:2016-07-13