Human Ecology

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 101–111 | Cite as

Institutional Adaptation and Community-Based Conservation of Natural Resources: The Cases of the Tao and Atayal in Taiwan

  • Ching-Ping TangEmail author
  • Shui-Yan Tang


Traditional institutional rules, values, and beliefs help support conservation regimes of natural resources in many indigenous communities. Such traditional conservation regimes may break down as a result of influences from the outside world. This paper examines two cases in Taiwan—the Tao communities on Orchid Island and the Atayal community in Smangus. The former illustrates a process in which traditional institutions supporting local conservation broke down as a result of external influences, leading to the loss of the local community’s ability to govern the use of a coastal fishery. The latter, in contrast, demonstrates how local people are able to adapt their traditional institutions to meet the challenges from the outside world while preserving a local forest. The paper concludes by examining factors that affect institutional adaptation in community-based conservation of natural resources.


Taiwan Institutional change Community-based conservation Forests Fisheries 



We thank Su Pei-Rong for assistance in data collection and the National Science Council of Taiwan for funding the research for the paper.


  1. Agrawal, A., and Gibson, C. C. (1999). Enchantment and Disenchantment: The Role of Community in Natural Resource Conservation. World Development 27(4): 629–649.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allis-Nokan, and Yu, G.-H. (2002). Taiwan yuanzhumin shi: taiyazushi pian [The History of Formosan Aborigines: Ataya], Taiwan Historica, Nantou. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  3. Alvard, M. (1995). Intraspecific Prey Choice by Amazonian Hunters. Current Anthropology 36(5): 789–818.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Anoliefo, G. O., Isikhuemhen, O. S., and Ochije, N. R. (2003). Environmental Implications of the Erosion of Cultural Taboo Practices in Awka-South Local Government Area of Anambra State, Nigeria: 1. Forests, Trees, and Water Resource Preservation. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 16(2): 281–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Aswani, S. (1998). Patterns of Marine Harvest Effort in Southwestern New Georgia, Solomon Islands: Resource Management or Optimal foraging? Ocean and Coastal Management 40(2/3): 207–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Berkes, F. (1999). Sacred Ecology: Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Resource Management. Taylor & Francis, Philadelphia.Google Scholar
  7. Berkes, F., and Turner, N. J. (2006). Knowledge, Learning and the Evolution of Conservation Practice for Social-Ecological System Resilience. Human Ecology 34(4): 479–494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chen, Y.-L. (2004). Taiwan de yuanzhumin [Taiwan’s Native Tribes], Yuanzu Culture, Taipei. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  9. Cheng, H.-W. (2004). Lan yu ya mei da chuan wen hua de rao pan: da chuan wen hua de she hui xian xiang tan jiu [The Convoluted Change on Orchid Island of Yami Boat Culture: An Inquiry into Social Phenomenon of Big-Boat Culture]. MS thesis, National Dong Hwa University, Hualien. (in Chience)Google Scholar
  10. Chien, H.-M. (2004). Dui dawu tianzhujiao bendihua de chubu guancha [A Primary Observation on the Localization of Catholics amongst Tao]. In Chien, H.-M. (ed.), Dang dawu yushang jidu [When the Tao Meet Jesus]. Fujen University Press, Taipei (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  11. Colding, J., and Folke, C. (2001). Social Taboos: “Invisible” Systems of Local Resource Management and Biological Conservation. Ecological Applications 11(2): 584–600.Google Scholar
  12. Colomy, P. (1998). Neofunctionalism and Neoinstitutionalism: Human Agency and Interest in Institutional Change. Sociological Forum 13(2): 265–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dombrowski, K. (2002). The Praxis of Indigenism and Alaska Native Timber Politics. American Anthropologist 104(4): 1062–1073.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Folke, C., Berkes, F., and Colding, J. (1998). Ecological Practices and Social Mechanisms for Building Resilience and Sustainability. In Berkes, F., and Folke, C. (eds.), Linking Social and Ecological Systems: Management Practices and Social Mechanism for Building Resilience. Cambridge University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  15. Fowler, C. T. (2003). The Ecological Implications of Ancestral Religion and Reciprocal Exchange in a Sacred Forest in Karendi (Sumba, Indonesia). Worldviews 7(3): 304–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gibson, C., McKean, M., and Ostrom, E. (eds.) (2000). People and Forests: Communities, Institutions, and Governance, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  17. Horng, G.-J., and Lin, C.-C. (2004). Guan guang di jing, bu luo yu jia: cong xin zhu si ma ku si bu luo de guan guang fa zhan tan tao wen hua yu gong xiang zi yuan de guan li [Tourism Landscape, Qalang and Nagsal: A Study of the Relationships between Culture and Common-pool Resource Management at Smangus, Hsin-Chu]. Di li xue bao [Journal of Geographical Science] 37: 51–97 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  18. Hunn, E. S. (1982). The Utilitarian Factor in Folk Biological Classification. American Anthropologist 84: 830–847.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kellert, S., Mehta, J. N., Ebbin, S. A., and Lichtenfeld, L. L. (2000). Community Natural Resource Management: Promise, Rhetoric, and Reality. Society & Natural Resources 13(8): 705–715.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Klooster, D. (2000). Institutional Choice, Community, and Struggle: A Case Study of Forest Co-Management in Mexico. World Development 28(1): 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kuan, H.-S. (1989). Yameizu de shenghuo shizhi huanjing yu zongjiao linian [The Physical Environment and Religious Thought of the Yami]. Zhongyanyuan minzu yanjiusuo jikan [Bulletin of the Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica] 67: 143–175 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  22. Lai, K.-C. (2005). Liudian feiyu gei dawuren [Leave some Flying Fish for Tao People]. Liberty Times (April 22). (in Chinese)
  23. Lee, Y.-Y. (1986). Anito de shehui gongneng: yameizu linghun xinyang de shehui xinli yanjiu [The Social Functions of ‘Anito’: Social Psychological Research on the Animism of Yami]. In Huang, Y.-K. (ed.), Taiwan tuzhu shehui wenhua yanjiu lunwenji [Symposium on the Socio-culture of Taiwan’s Aborigines]. Linkingbooks, Taipei (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  24. Lin, H.-Y. (2004). Lanyu zhi fu: jishouchang shenfu [The Father of Lan-Yu: Father Giger Alfred]. In Chien, H.-M. (ed.), Dang dawu yushang jidu [When the Tao Meet Jesus]. Fujen University Press, Taipei (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  25. Lounsbury, M., and Glynn, M. A. (2001). Cultural Entrepreneurship: Stories, Legitimacy, and the Acquisition of Resource. Strategic Management Journal 22(6/7): 545–564.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. McGovern, J. B. M. (1922). Among the Head-Hunters of Formosa. Small, Maynard & Company, Boston.Google Scholar
  27. Monbiot, G. (1993). The Real Tragedy of the Commons. Third World Resources 41: 6–7.Google Scholar
  28. Natcher, D. C., and Davis, S. (2007). Rethinking Devolution: Challenges for Aboriginal Resource Management in the Yukon Territory. Society & Natural Resources 20(3): 271–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ostrom, E. (1990). Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. Cambridge University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  30. Ostrom, E. (1995). Constituting Social Capital and Collective Action. In Keohane, R. O., and Ostrom, E. (eds.), Local Commons and Global Interdependence: Heterogeneity and Cooperation in Two Domains. Sage, London.Google Scholar
  31. Ostrom, E. (2005). Understanding Institutional Diversity. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.Google Scholar
  32. Price, B. J. (1982). Cultural Materialism: A Theoretical Review. American Antiquity 47(4): 709–741.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Rangan, H., and Lane, M. B. (2001). Indigenous Peoples and Forest Management: Comparative Analysis of Institutional Approaches in Australia and India. Society & Natural Resources 14(2): 145–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Ribot, J. C., and Larson, A. M. (eds.) (2005). Democratic Decentralization through a Natural Resource Lens: Experience from Africa, Asia and Latin America, Routledge, London.Google Scholar
  35. Ross, A., and Pickering, K. (2002). The Politics of Reintegrating Australian Aboriginal and American Indian Indigenous Knowledge into Resource Management: The Dynamics of Resource Appropriation and Culture Revival. Human Ecology 30(2): 187–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Ross, E. B. (1978). Food Taboos, Diet, and Hunting Strategy: The Adaptation to Animals in Amazon Cultural Ecology. Current Anthropology 19(1): 1–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Schlager, E. (1990). Model Specification and Policy Analysis: The Governance of Coastal Fisheries, PhD dissertation, Indiana University, Bloomington.Google Scholar
  38. Senchou Zhizhu (Mori Ushinosuke in Japanese) (1917). Taiwan fanzu zhi [Historical Records of Taiwan’s Aborigines], Translated by Huang Wenshin, Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica, Taipei (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  39. Seo, M.-G., and Creed, W. E. D. (2002). Institutional Contradictions, Praxis, and Institutional Change: A Dialectical Perspective. Academy of Management Review 27(2): 222–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Smith, N. (2001). Are Indigenous People Conservationists? Preliminary Results from the Machiguenga of the Peruvian Amazon. Rationality and Society 13(4): 429–461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Su, P.-R. (2006). Shandi shequ zai ziran ziyuan guanli de jiaose: yi xinzhuxian jianshixiang simakusi, zhenxibao, ji xinguang buluo weili [The Role of Aboriginal Communities in Natural Resources Management: Cases of Atayal Smaongus, Cinsbu, and Smagus Tribaes in Hsinchu County, Taiwan], MS thesis, National Chung Cheng University, Chiayi (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  42. Syaman-Rapongan. (2004). Yuanchu fengyu de daoyu: dawu minzu de haiyang zhishi yu wenhua [Primitive Rich Island: The Ocean Knowledge and Culture of Tao People], MS thesis, National Tsing Hua University, Hsin-Chu (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  43. Tang, S.-Y. (1992). Institutions and Collective Action: Self-Governance in Irrigation. ICS, San Francisco.Google Scholar
  44. Tang, C.-P., and Tang, S.-Y. (2001). Negotiated Autonomy: Transforming Self-governing Institutions for Local Common-Pool Resources in Two Tribal Villages in Taiwan. Human Ecology 29(1): 49–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Thelen, K. (1999). Historical Institutionalism in Comparative Politics. Annual Review of Political Science 2: 369–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Tien, C.-Y. (2001). Taiwan de yuanzhumin: taiyazu [Taiwan's Aborigine: Atayal]. Tai-Yuan Publisher, Taipei (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  47. Tien, C.-Y. (2002). Taiwan de yuanzhumin: dawuzu [Taiwan's Aborigine: Tao]. Tai-Yuan Publisher, Taipei (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  48. Warren, D. M., and Pinkston, J. (1998). Indigenous African Resource Management of a Tropical Rainforest Ecosystem: A Case Study of the Yoruba of Ara, Nigeria. In Berkes, F., and Colding, J. (eds.), Linking Social and Ecological Systems: Management Practices and Social Mechanisms for Building Resilience. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  49. Wei, H.-L., and Liu, P.-H. (1962). Lanyu yameizu de shehui zuzhi [Social Structure of The Yami, Botel Tobago]. Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica, Taipei (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  50. Wong, S.-H. (1986). Fei danxi shehui zhi yanjiu: yi taiwan taiyazu yu yameizu wei li [On Non-unilineal Society: The Cases of Atayal and Yam in Taiwan]. In Huang, Y.-K. (ed.), Taiwan tuzhu shehui wenhua yanjiu lunwenji [Symposium on the Socio-Culture of Taiwan’s Aborigines]. Linkingbooks, Taipei (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  51. Wong, S.-S. (2001). Taiwan yuanzhumin de shehui yu wenhua [The Society and Culture of Taiwan’s Native Tribes]. Linkingbooks, Taipei (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  52. Yang, N.-C. (2005). Taiwan bainian shuguang [The First Light of Taiwan’s Recent One Hundred Years]. Nantian Shuju, Taipei (in Chinese).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National ChengChi UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  2. 2.University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations