Volunteers uphold traditions, tidiness of Raknus Selu Trail

To maintain the tidiness and usability of Raknus Selu Trail (樟之細路) on Taiwan Romantic Route 3 and retain the traditional spirit of cutting a path through new growth from old times, the Hakka Affairs Council (HAC) has commissioned Dnf Environmental Consultants Inc. (大凡工程顧問有限公司) and Taiwan Thousand Miles Trail Association (台灣千里步道協會) to rally communities along the trail and recruit volunteers. The program was officially launched in Hsinchu’s Guangxi Township on May 5.

HAC Deputy Minister Yiong Cong-ziin (楊長鎮) noted that after a full year of field research, the total length of Raknus Selu Trail has been defined as 407 kilometers.

It crosses several districts and townships from northern to central Taiwan, including Taoyuan’s Longtan District; Hsinchu’s Guangxi Township, Qionglin Township, Zhudong Township, Beipu Township, and Emei Township; Miaoli’s Toufen City, Sanwan Township, Touwu Township, Shitan Township, Dahu Township, and Zhuolan Township; and Taichung’s Dongshi District and Shigang District.

In the past, mobilizing able-bodied young men from communities along Raknus Selu Trail to maintain the pathways in different seasons was a Hakka custom, Yiong stated, citing Lunar New Year, the birthday of Bagong (伯公), Tomb Sweeping Day, Dragon Boat Festival, Ghost Festival, and the 15th day of the tenth lunar month as traditional days for communities to get together.

He added that despite the aging population and outflow of youths in many Hakka villages, members from community colleges, associations on culture and history, community development groups, environmental protection organizations, and hiking clubs now all engage in routine trail maintenance. Under such cooperation between public and private sectors, the trails will continue to be preserved in a sustainable fashion, Deputy Minister Yiong concluded.

In the near future, groups such as a volunteer team from Miaoli Community College, local hiking clubs, cultural and history associations, and community teams of construction workers and technicians will return to clear the trails with special emphasis on nature conservation. Visitors who are interested in eco-tourism or the Hakka and indigenous elements of the trail are welcomed to join the volunteer effort.