Costal Range Taitung Cycas Forest Reserve

Primary Object for Protection Cycas taitungensis
Size of Area (ha) 38
Scope of Administration Compartments 31 and 32 of Cheng-gong Working Circle for National Forest
Authority in-charge-of Taitung Forest District Office, Forestry Bureau
History The nature reserve was established to preserve the forest in 1981 and Costal Range Taitung Cycas Forest Reserve has been established according to the official document No. 0951700407, issued by Forestry Bureau on April 10, 2006.


Cycadaceae, having a popular name as “Iron Tree,” is an ancient plant in gymnospermae. It is inferred that the tree originated from the early phase of Mesozoic Era as far back in to 140 millions years ago. Then, the tree was once the most densely populated plantation on land. However, long-span of environmental evolution and species succession has brought most of species in Cycadaceae to extinct. By now, there are about 17 species remaining all over the globe. Therefore, preserving the area, where grows primeval Cycas cluster, is a task of great urgency at present.

Cycas taitungensis is an evergreen palm tree with circular shape and leaves growing on top. The tree is dioecious. Male strobili is in conic shape and has triangle top, while female strobili is oval and has long, narrow red crevices on its megasporophyll. The seed of the tree is in oval or long circular shape, and turns rusty color when reaching maturity, while its densely spiral leaf scars on the trunk is fire-resistant. Cycas taitungensis is featured by fire-resistance, warmth-oriented, coldness-resistance, and it must be bathed in sunlight. Therefore, the distribution of the tree is limited. However, because of its elegant appearance and the favor by Chinese in tradition, the tree has always been one of the favorite decoration plants in gardening industry, which renders it to extreme pressure of illegal logging.

In 1980, Forestry Bureau protected the species and its habitat as well as maintain its population for continuation by planning to set up “Taitung Hong-ye Village Taitung Cycas Forest Reserve” and “Costal Range Taitung Cycas Nature Forest Reserve” and covering both in Yan-ping Working Circle and Cheng-gong Working Circle, which has been administered by Taitung Forest District Office. The effort was also made to keep its reproduction for studies of the future. On April 10, 2006, Forestry Bureau issued the official document No. 0951700407, indicating that Costal Range Taitung Cycas Forest Reserve was established according to amendment to Forestry Act. In 1988, the Council of Agriculture recognized Cycas taitungensis as a rare and valuable species according to Cultural Heritage Preservation Act but has removed it from Rare & Valuable Species“ on September 27, 2001.


“Costal Range Taitung Cycas Forest Reserve,” covering a total area of 38 ha , sits across Compartments 31 and 32 Cheng-gong Working Circle for National Forest, administered by Taitung Forest District Office. Height of the reserve is between 300 to 800 meters above sea level.

An Introduction

The reserve ranges over the middle part of Coastal Range and its geology had been formed of Miocene Epoch stones. Coastal Range was first formed with molten lava, then with accumulated volcanic rubbles. Finally, the area is deposited with aqueous rocks: Doulan Shan layer with limestone on top. Therefore, the three layers of soil from top to bottom are andesite, Doulan, and limestone. Since weathering and decomposition of stones on the ground surface are most aggravating, rocks on the riverbanks, valley, and slopes can be easily shaken loose and end up as mudslide.

The soil in the area is attributed to Taiyuan system, being formed of alluviation of slates, sandstones, mud stones, and agglutinate matter, and the soil is shallower than 90 cm thick of silty loam. The color of the soil indicates mainly brown, and can be found along the alluvial tableland of valleys. (Date Source: Mountain Agricultural Resources Development Bureau, 1989)

In Costal Range Taitung Cycas Forest Reserve,16 ℃ is the lowest point in temperature between December and next February and it reaches up to 27 ℃ with the highest when it falls on August. Since there is not much difference in temperature, the area is considered warm year round. The month with the least rainfall drops in January and February, reaching only 50 or 56 mm. After March, the rainfall gradually increases, and increases drastically in May. September is the month with the greatest rainfall with as much as 325 mm. The rainfall will decrease by half after November, with annual rainfall at 1,995 mm. According to the above-mentioned information, rainfall in the reserve between May and October shares majority of it all over the one year. Rainy days in the whole year often amount to 124 and relative average humidity is 86% in this reserve.

Biological Resources

The survey indicates that of 155 species found in Costal Range Taitung Cycas Forest Reserve, 15 species have been recognized rare and valuable ones including Cycas taitungensis, Buxus microphylla Sieb, Rhododendron simsii Planch, Drypetes hieranensis, Taiwan Cinnamon, Cyclobalanopsis longinux, Taroko Oaks, Casearia membranacea Hance, Cinnamomum insularimontamum Hay, Litsea linii, Taxus mairei, Photinia ardisiifolia Hayata, Uncaria hirsuta Havil, Citrus depress Hayata, and Schizostachyum diffusum.

Roughly speaking, vegetation in the area can be divided into four groups: A. Trema orientalis; B. Rus chinensis Mill; C. Konishi neolitsea-Woolly-flowered Persimmon; D.Cyclobalanopsis longinux -- red skin. The flora community of A and B group is in their early phase of evolution, while C and D group is already in their peak of plant community. Because Cycas taitungensis is an exposure-adaptive species in the early phase of evolution, there are few sprouts under the forest layer. To conserve this rare species of Cycas taitungensis, the manner of artificial reproduction can be considered to revive the population of Cycas taitungensis.

The record indicated that there are eight families and ten species of mammal in the area. After the sight report and written records are through, three animals are identified as Formosan rock-monkey, Red-bellied Tree Squirrel, and Spinous country-rat. According to interview investigation, traces of large mammals such as Formosan Wild Boar and Formosan barking deer as well as medium-sized mammals can be seen such as mane cat, Gem-faced civet, wild rabbit, Formosan giant flying squirrel, white-faced rat have been witnessed. Among them, Formosan rocket-monkey and Red-bellied tree squirrel are found most in numbers and can be almost seen everywhere. Monkeys often appear around the fruit farms near the reserve, with their droppings found in the mountain. And only one species of small mammal is left in the area, being Spinous country-rat, and it is found around at the bush region near the area exit.

24 species in 17 families of bird can be found in the area and the species vary in spring and autumn/winter. In the last two seasons of one year, the dominant birds are Vinous-throated Parrotbill, Gray-cheeked Fulvetta, Japanese White-eye, White-rumped Munia. In summer and autumn, the dominant species are Black Bulbul in Pycnonotidae family and Taiwan Bulbul. In autumn and winter, male and female Yellow-throated Minivets are usually seen in pair, while Crested Serpent Eagle can be seen everywhere in the area and so as eagle resting at the outer ring of the reserve. Among these species, Maroon Oriole is classed with Endangered Species according to Wildlife Conservation Act. Furthermore, there are four rare and valuable species of birds, three species listed in Other Conservation-deserving Wildlife, two local endemic species such as Taiwan Bulbul and Taiwan Whistling Thrush, and 15 special sub-species. Most of them are migratory birds, amounting to 17 kinds in the reserve.

As far as reptile is concerned, it is indicated in the survey that there are at minimum seven species of snakes. As the survey was undertaken, the researchers had found out the body of Taiwan banded krait, categorized by law into one of the rare and valuable species in the reserve was discovered. For lizards, one can easily locate Five-striped Blue-tailed Skink, but hardly any traces of night geckos after several surveys were made at night.

There are six species in the streams or neighboring irrigation ponds all over Costal Range Taitung Cycas Reserve, sharing majority of amphibians among three small-size reserves in Taitung. The tadpoles of Japanese Tree Frog grow into frogs in every August. Additionally, it is mere Moltrechti's green tree frog is by law recognized as a rare and valuable species.

Conservation Results Till Now

The authority prevented Cycas taitungensis from being illegally lumbered by covering Costal Range Taitung Cycas Forest Reserve in Tier-ⅠMountain Control Area and erected a control station at the entrance to the reserve and a large warning sign. Guangshan Station under Forestry Bureau also assigned the staff to check the reserve and asked visitors not to step into it. In addition, the staff assigned number cards to every of Cycas and undertook regular biological surveys against the ecosystem.

The number of Cycas taitungensis had been declining because of its growth characteristics aside from illegal logging. The plant is sun-oriented and its population can be better maintained on slopes of sunny exposure. However, shady locations are now being inhabited by shade tolerant species that endangers Cycas taitungensis, Taitung Forest District Office has artificially nurtured tree seedlings at Taitung Seedling Farm. The effort not only lessens natural harm to Cycas taitungensis, but also offers seedling for the requested.

The mammal and butterfly share majority of wildlife all over Costal Range Taitung Cycas Forest Reserve. The authority is ready to budget more to undertake research in upcoming days and build up the rough database for the reserve. Besides, we will try our best to promote the idea of conservation and educate the public.

Though Cycas taitungensis has gained its shelter in the area, however, a portion of the land has been exposed to excessive farming and illegal logging, which is now under evolution of the plant community. Whether there will be a decrease in the number of tree as of evolution or even extinction because of natural disaster is to be observed. Therefore, it is necessary to appreciate Cycas taitungensis population much, and understand the potential problems and current interference. A detailed record of population density and development should be kept in stock. For fallen trees whose roots are dug out, it would be best to fill in the soil to keep them alive. For those whose tops are cut, no conservation is necessary because the trunk possesses vital capability for rebirth.

Because Cycas taitungensis is a dry-resistant and sun-oriented, it is important to take notice if there is sufficient and proper space for population expansion. According to survey, it is known that the soil in the area is fragile, and experience severe weathering and decomposition. Currently, there are some cliffs that have open lands for Cycas taitungensis due to dry weather and slow flora alteration.
Visit counts:2734 Last updated on:2016-07-13