RUKAI CULTURAL LANDSCAPE: TRADITIONAL PRACTICE AND IMPLICATIONS FOR CULTURAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

Jeffrey Hou* and Sasala Taipan#
*Department of Landscape Architecture
#Department of Anthropology, University of Washington.

17th CONGRESS OF THE INDO-PACIFIC PREHISTORY ASSOCIATION, TAIPEI, SEPTEMBER 2002,
http://arts.anu.edu.au/arcworld/ippa/Abstracts_G_to_L.html

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Abstract

In recent years, studies of indigenous people's management of landscape resources through field research and mapping using Geographical Information System (GIS) have produced important findings about how cultural and environmental resources have been traditionally managed in indigenous communities.  Combined with anthropological data, they reveal how the traditional management systems were intricately tied to the local belief system, cultural codes, social structure, and activities of farming and hunting, to produce sustainable outcomes.  Such traditional system presents a stark contrast to the modern technocratic resource management institutions and practice such as the establishment of national parks, nature and historic preserves, and other systems of land use control.  Often, the technocratic systems have directly resulted in the displacement of the indigenous communities and their traditional ties to the landscape.  The displacement leads to not only the disruption of the lives of local people, but also the loss of traditional knowledge and the sustainable management of local landscape resources and cultural heritage.


In Taiwan, the persistent conflicts between the national park system and the indigenous people's rights have been documented by scholars and journalists.  However, there has not been an adequate systematic understanding of the characteristics of the traditional resource management practice and the fundamental conflicts between the traditional practice and contemporary institutions.  This paper examines the characteristics of the traditional landscape management practice by the Rukai Tribe in Kochapogan, Taiwan, using the recent research data produced through GIS mapping and interviews with the local Rukai people. 

Based on an understanding of the characteristics, the authors analyze the impacts of the contemporary management practice under the current legal and institutional framework.  The paper argues that the traditional and contemporary landscape management systems are both social and cultural constructs that represent different value systems and human ecological relationships.  To resolve the current problems of cultural and environmental conservation such as the loss of traditional knowledge and conflicts of conservation practice, one needs to look beyond the framework of current resource management practice under national parks and wildlife preserves, and recognize traditional knowledge and cultural practice as an important mechanism for maintaining biodiversity and preserving cultural heritage.  Further, the traditional knowledge and practice itself should be seen as an important cultural heritage that needs to be reinvigorated and protected.  Future resource management efforts therefore need to incorporate social learning, community building and adaptation in the contemporary social context.

Home, traditional knowledge web of Taiwan

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