The Forestry Bureau yesterday unveiled new regulations detailing the rights of Aborigines to collect forest resources in government-owned areas for nonprofit purposes.
While an amendment to Article 15 of the Forestry Act (森林法) in 2004 permitted Aborigines to collect forest products in their traditional domains to meet daily and ritual needs, the varieties, location and collection of the products were not clearly defined, which has caused controversy at times, bureau Director-General Lin Hwa-ching (林華慶) told a news conference in Taipei.
Lin cited as an example the case of three men from the Atayal village of Qalang Smangus (司馬庫斯) in Hsinchu County who were charged with theft for transporting part of a Zelkova tree felled by a typhoon that was blocking the road connecting their community to the outside.
It was not until 2010 that the three were acquitted by the Taiwan High Court, which cited the Indigenous Peoples Basic Act (原住民族基本法) to defend their rights, he said.
The case shows that unclear regulations on forest product collection is a thorn on the side of Aborigines and causes trouble for law enforcement officers, Lin said.
After consulting the Council of Indigenous Peoples and experts on Aboriginal issues over the past few years, the bureau finally announced the Regulations Governing Indigenous Peoples Collecting Forest Products Based on their Customs under the framework of the Forestry Act, he said.
With the regulations taking effect yesterday, Aborigines can freely harvest wild plants, except for protected species, without having to file an application beforehand, the bureau said, adding that they should bring their identification documents with them in case of spot checks.
To collect timber, they have to submit a proposal to their community council. Once it is approved by the council, it has to published for public review to avoid conflict with neighboring communities, it said.
Aborigines can gather main forest products for free if they are to be used for ceremonial purposes or the public interest, but collection for personal use would have to be paid for, it said, adding that they have to submit a proposal for official approval.
Wu Hsueh-yueh (吳雪月), a Hualien-based Amis committed to preserving Taiwan’s native plants, lauded the new regulations.
Wu said she has learned from community elders as well as animals that many more plants in the wild are edible.
Aborigines would never overexploit natural resources, she said, adding that she hoped to pass on Aboriginal knowledge about herbs to more people.
A DECADE’S WORK: The two-volume, 1,400-page lexicon has collected more than 20,000 words and phrases, and is expected to help people learning the Liu Dui dialect The Liu Dui Culture Research Association on Saturday unveiled the nation’s first domestically compiled lexicon of Hakka-language words in the Liu Dui dialect, an effort that took a decade of work and cost about NT$7 million (US$233,085 at the current exchange rate). The two-volume, 1,400-page lexicon collected more than 20,000 phrases and words, and is estimated to be of great value in helping people learn the Liu Dui dialect and culture, the association said. It could also become a reference book for teachers, the association added. The lexicon collected phrases and common words used in daily speech, as well as local sayings, phrases
EXPANSION: The transportation ministry is to subsidize Taipei and Kaohsiung’s purchase of 63 multipurpose taxis, as well as the payment of incentives for drivers The Ministry of Transportation and Communications is appropriating nearly NT$60 million (US$2 million) to subsidize plans by the Taipei City Government and the Kaohsiung City Government to expand their multipurpose taxi fleets, it said over the weekend. The ministry said that it has since 2013 subsidized the multipurpose taxi service nationwide, as it has become a way for disabled people to travel. The nation has 980 multipurpose taxis, including 301 in Taipei and 272 in Kaohsiung, ministry statistics showed. Last year, the service was accessed more than 200,000 times in Taipei and 460,000 times in Kaohsiung, which the ministry said shows
The One Bear Museum in Hsinchu County’s Guansi Township (關西), a teddy bear museum once touted by the county government as a “luminous pearl” along Provincial Highway No. 13, is facing possible closure. The museum’s building, which was provided by the county government, has a serious water leakage problem and lacks a parking lot for buses to bring in tour groups, Hsinchu County Councilor Lo Shih-shi (羅仕琦) said on Saturday. The county government should step in to rescue the museum, or the negative reviews about the museum on the Internet might affect visitors’ impression of the township and the county, he said. The
‘NATIONAL SECURITY PROBLEM’: Two DPP legislators said the government needs to help public agencies replace Chinese equipment and pass legislation banning their use More than 200 government entities are together using 1,108 telecommunications devices from Chinese brands, posing a cybersecurity risk, a government report showed. At the suggestion of the Legislative Yuan’s Internal Administration Committee last year, the Executive Yuan investigated 7,704 public institutions to see whether they were using or had procured telecoms equipment manufactured by Chinese companies. They found that as of April 13, of the 3,837 public institutions that responded to their requests, 228 said they had been using equipment made by Chinese brands, including mobile phones, video cameras, drones and other Internet-related devices. The report highlighted products from seven brands considered to