Youth Travel Spots in Chiku

Welcome to the Chi-Ku Seacoast Protection Association – one of the main travel spots for young people in Chiku, Tainan. From here visitors can review the history of opposition to the Bin-Nan Industrial Zone and photographs showing our work to save the local sandbanks.

There is also an introduction to fish farming in the Chiku area.

This information provides visitors with a strong sense of what it means to live in Chiku, including the fortitude and wisdom of local residents.

The services we provide include planned youth tours and working holidays in Chiku, tour maps of the area and a list of local telephone numbers for related inquiries.

We invite visitors to make use of these services, but please remember to call us before visiting, that way we can best help you with whatever you might need.

Protecting the Sandbanks

Chiku Lagoon in Greater Tainan is the largest lagoon in Taiwan. It is not only a remnant of the historical Taichiang inland sea, but is also the habitat of the nearly-extinct black-face spoonbill for about seven months of every year. Since 1993, fishermen living close to Chiku lagoon together with environmental groups and academics from around the country have worked to promote eco-tourism in the area as an alternative to industrial development, with the aim of preventing the lagoon and its surrounding environment from being further damaged.

However, Chiku lagoon now faces another environmental challenge.

Excessive development and natural change have caused a dramatic decrease in the amount of sand that sustains the three sandbars protecting Chiku lagoon. As a result, the extended sand dunes have already disappeared and the windbreak forest has withered or been consumed by the sand.

In the face of such a vicious environment, the Chiku sandbar has become smaller and increasingly fragmented, while the lagoon has shrunk in size and fishing villages that rely on it to make a living find their very existence imperiled.

It is our hope that through a program of sustained coastal environment education and an industry reengineering plan, it will be possible to help local residents and draw together both local and overseas volunteers concerned about changes along the western coast of Taiwan. Through the organization of related activities we can then help the people of Chiku protect Chiku lagoon. We are also looking to muster public support for our campaign as we fight to save the beauty of Chiku lagoon for future generations.

Chiku Lagoon

Local fishermen refer to Chiku lagoon as neihaitsai or inland sea. Over the years Tsengwen River has changed direction four times and those twists and turns have created an intriguing local landscape. It is also the largest lagoon in Taiwan. The combination of brackish water and an estuary environment has nurtured a rich mangrove eco-system and aquatic inhabitants that including fish, shrimp, shellfish, oysters, crabs and the Venus clam. This diversity is the area’s most valuable ecological treasure. In addition, the fishing industry landscape of fixed nets and oyster racks and the distinctive flora and fauna found on local sandbanks, imbue the lagoon with its own unique flavor. Surveying the surrounding area from a seascape pavilion on the banks of the lagoon one can see the sandbanks, lagoon and salt fields, a sight that in the fading light of the setting sun is truly breathtaking.

For those interested in the diversity of lagoon ecology, we recommend taking a boat or raft tour at dusk. The journey takes from 1-2 hours as each operator takes a slightly different route, though most stop on Wangtsailiaoshan (網仔寮汕), an offshore sandbank. Once here visitors need to walk just a short distance along a wooden walkway to get a closer view of the Taiwan Strait, not to mention a better appreciation of the rich diversity of flora and fauna that live on the sandbank.

Black-faced Spoonbills

The black-faced spoonbill is one of the world’s rarest birds and is designated an endangered species. Every year in September and October flocks of spoonbills fly from Korea and northeast China to the Tsengwen River estuary near Chiku, where they spend the winter. They only start to leave in March the following year and some can still be spotted as late as May. For bird lovers this is the best time to see the black-faced spoonbill in Chiku.

However, because the spoonbill is nocturnal and hunts for food at night, daytime viewing with high powered binoculars can be quite uninteresting. It is not until 4pm to 5pm that the birds start to get playful, bathing and preening each other’s feathers. Only then does the action start, and for the patient birdwatcher there is always a chance of seeing the majestic sight of a spoonbill spreading its wings and taking flight.

Mangrove Conservation Area

The estuary environment where the Chiku River flows into the sea is home to a natural mangrove ecosystem, the dominant species of which is the black and white mangrove. These provide an excellent and diverse ecology for a wide range of fauna including fiddler crabs and various fish, shrimp and shellfish. At present, the Chiku River Mangrove Conservation Area (七股溪紅樹林保護區) has two bird-watching pavilions, excellent spots from which to watch egrets and black-crowned night herons at dusk.