Smangus friends need your help‎ !!by Dr. Jeanine Pfeiffer(Science and Society Program, University of California at Davis)

To the Taiwanese Authorities:

It is of great concern that I, and my colleagues at UC Davis, hear of the gravely misinformed policies and irresponsible actions of the Hsinchu Forest District Office and the Forestry Bureau towards members of the Tayal/Smangus community.

The traditional rights of Native communities such as the Tayal in Smangus over their ancestral lands - and the biological diversity within those ancestral lands - are internationally recognized by academics and agencies familiar with indigenous history, culture, and law.

The survival of an indigenous community such as the Tayal is deeply connected with their ancestral lands: to deny, or to undermine their biocultural heritage is a very short-sighted policy. A wiser policy would recognize and protect aboriginal cultural groups -including the Tayal - because Native cultural groups are what make the Hsinchu Forest District a unique and culturally rich region.

When I visited Taiwan in December 2006, and traveled to the Hsinchu forest, I was greatly impressed with the sophistication of the cultural and ecological tourism programs offered by the Tayal/Smangus communities, and by other aboriginal groups in the district. It gives me great sorrow to hear that these programs are threatened by the Taiwanese governments.

A well-educated and just Taiwanese government would support the Tayal and their traditional rights, in order to ensure the future political, social, cultural, and economic sustainability and prosperity of the Hsinchu Forest Region. Instead of fighting over one tree, let us all cooperate to protect the trees, the forest, and - most especially - the aboriginal peoples whose lives are so deeply connected with the forest.

Dr. Jeanine Pfeiffer

Science and Society Program, University of California at Davis

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