RSS | Register/註冊 | Log in/登入
Site search:
Home>FFTC Document Database>Extension Bulletins>REVITALIZING THE GONGLIAO RURAL AREA: A CASE STUDY OF LUNGONG COMMUNITY
facebook分享

Ching-Ta Chuang*, Jun-Yu Chen**, Hsin-I Hsiao*** and Jyun-Long Chen*

*Institute of Marine Affairs and Resource Management,
National Taiwan Ocean University,
No. 2, Peining Road, Keelung, Taiwan

**Department of Finance and Insurance Management,
Lan Yang Institute of Technology,
No. 79, Fushing Road, Toucheng, Yilan, Taiwan

***Department of Food Science,
National Taiwan Ocean University,
No. 2, Peining Road, Keelung, Taiwan.

ABSTRACT

Globalization has caused a new paradigm in which the gap between urban and rural developments is expanded, and thus more problems are created in economy, society, and the environment. A growing number of research studies now shed some light on multi-functionality of agriculture, which aims for turning traditional agriculture into emphasizing on production, life, ecology, culture, recreation and other diverse functions. This study investigates the rural community development and the "Rural Regeneration (Rejuvenation) Act" in Taiwan, and carries out in-depth case study of the Gongliao rural areas. Results show that problems of community-building are lack of professional human resources who understand the communities and paces of village policies among different interest groups. Communities hope regulations on rural regeneration would be fair because a good policy that would make communities more completed. Experts also hope that the implementation of rural regeneration plans can be slower because the communities need more time for discussion in order to achieve the "Harmony of human being and the environment" which is the main objective of communications and consensus.

Keywords: Community participation, Gongliao, Lungong, Rural Regeneration Act

INTRODUCTION

Globalization has caused impacts on rural development in many countries from aspects of economy, social culture, politics and environment. The new paradigm results in the expansion of gap between urban and rural developments, and thus more problems created in economy, society, and the environment. There is an increasing number of studies focusing on development of multi-functionality of agriculture, which turning the production focus only into emphasizing on production, life, ecology, culture, recreation and other diverse functionality.

Rural areas in Taiwan also face a number of problems due to globalization. In order to remote the environmental quality and agricultural development in rural areas, government has facilitated the adoption of "Rural Regeneration Act" in the year of 2010. The Act is a "bottom-up" participation way of rural residents, which different from that based on traditional governance directive "top-down" mode. As the rural resources have the feature of Common Pool Resources, this bottom-up self-governance framework help to reduce the failure situations and facilitate sustainable resources development. However, community self-governance is also a kind of collective choice. In an institutional environment of collective choices, collective action can satisfy both individual and public interests while creating conflicts between individual and collective interests due to the deficient information. That's why community self-governance can not only enhance the efficiency of rural regeneration but also create problems like free rider and institution failure and result in the tragedy of commons happen.

In order to investigate success factors behind rural revitalization, this study explores a project in Gongliao rural areas, New Taipei City, Taiwan, which was conducted by the New Taipei City Life and Environment Promotion Association (NTCLEPA). Our data was collected from their experiences of and experts' viewpoints by exploring issues during implementation, such as community-buildings, community executive units, administrative organizations and factions, incubation projects, community charters, hiring of workers, and procurement of materials, as well as the communities' views on the Rural Regeneration Act which conducted by Soil & Water Conservation Bureau, Council of Agriculture (SWCS).

THE EVOLUTION OF TAIWANESE RURAL AREAS

The evolution of Taiwanese rural areas is described in Table 1. During the period of 1950-1970, Taiwanese rural areas were in the initial rebuilding stage. During 1970-1990, it was at an accelerating stage, and during 1990-2010 it was at new landscape stage. Since 2010, the rejuvenation stage starts. Below we describe this stage in more detail.

The Legislative Yuan in Taiwan passed the Statute for Rejuvenation of Rural Villages on July 14, 2010 and the Taiwanese government will accordingly promote for an orderly development works in rural areas. It aims to taking care of 600,000 families in Taiwan's 4,000 agricultural and fishing villages (Council of Agriculture, 2010). In general, the Rural Regeneration Act 38 articles of the Statute have the following characteristics (Council of Agriculture, 2010):

  • (1) Rural residents will jointly take part in implementing Regeneration projects to beautify the environment orderly, revitalize agricultural industries, carry on agricultural culture heritage and create development vision with local features.
  • (2) Appropriate funds for sustainable use to improve the entire environment, revitalize agricultural industries, and create better basic production conditions by taking living, production and ecology into consideration.
  • (3) Training community manpower is listed as a necessary condition in the proposed rural area Regeneration project, so that local residents can reach consensus when making decisions on how to beautify their community.
  • (4) Green building and recycled energy resources are listed as important items of community environmental improvement and public facilities eligible for government subsidies to build communities with low emissions of greenhouse gases throughout Taiwan.
  • (5) Strengthen self-management with community conventions to prevent careless constructions from worsening local landscape.

Rural Generation Act is the legal basis for rural development to promote rural activation and upgrade the overall development in rural areas. It is the future direction worked out by the rural residents for their own community, and NT150 billion dollars will be invested within 10 years. Action for rural Regeneration is a multi-phased program; training community manpower is listed as a necessary condition in the proposed rural area Regeneration project. Under this mechanism, it is believed that local residents can reach consensus when making decisions on how to beautify their community, sustainable use to improve the entire environment, revitalize agricultural industries, and create better basic production conditions by taking living, production and ecology into consideration.

In summary, the development works of rural areas under the Statute for Regeneration of Rural Villages are in progress. It aims to take care of 4,000 farming and fishing villages as well as 600,000 farmers and fishermen. As of August 2012, community manpower has trained over 2,000 communities and 257 finished the entire course (see table 2). Now many start the summit of their rural regeneration plan to improve the overall environment, construct public facilities, refurbish abandoned house, preserve traditional culture, conserve the ecology etc. The government still strives to break bottlenecks in the long-term rural development and revitalize agricultural and fishing villages with industrial, cultural and infrastructure constructions to create wealthy new villages with high quality of life so as to attract young people back to their rural homeland areas.

GONGLIAO RURAL AREA AND DRAGON MOUND COMMUNITY EXPERIENCES

Gongliao District is a rural area and is located in the farthest east district of New Taipei City, North East Taiwan (see Fig. 1). Geographically, Gongliao is a one-hour trip from Taipei Metropolitan; on its east is the Pacific Ocean; on its south is Toucheng Township, Yilan County. On the other side of Gongliao are mountains and hills along the 30km long coastline. The area of the district is approximately 99.97 square kilometers, and there are about 14,077 people living in the district. Most of the residents in this district work in the field of agriculture, and in-shore fisheries, so the characteristic products are the seafood and fruits in here. Taiwan government is scheming Gongliao as one of Taiwan's Scenic Areas, and setting up Long-Dong Wan Park, Bitou Cape Park, Golden Bay Beach, Caoling Historic Trail and Fulong Beach, etc, which are all along the long beautiful coastline (New Taipei City Government, 2012).

Dragon Mound is a hill village with an abundance of natural resources and health ecosystem within the New Taipei City, at the northeast corner of Taiwan. As its name, cannotes Dragon Mound is a small plain above the rising and falling hill just like a dragon. Ketagalan is the major aborigine tribe of Dragon Mound whose members mainly hunt for a living before the Chinese immigrated and resided here to reclaim the area. At the peak period, it had several hundred households and 158 students in the primary school in 1970. Following industrial and economic development in Taiwan, young fellows went to the city for job and left the old people to tend for themselves. Just like the majority of Taiwanese rural villages, the weaknesses of Dragon Mound were poverty, aging, population, etc. No one knew the future of Dragon Mound at that time.

Occasionally, there are few retired professionals including public officers and teachers who move in for short-term staying. They later discovered the beautiful views in the area. In the beginning, they hardly communicated with the local people; they even dislike each other, because of the habit difference and asymmetric information. Finally, they the NTCLEPA formed in 2010 and took part in Rural Revitalization Project in 2012 which was conducted by SWCB, COA.

While the project was conducting, a series of questions were posted by them, examples of these are "How do we do it?" "Maybe we can do something even if we do not feel the need to reconcile." "Tell us how to do! We won't allow this beautiful village to fall into disuse."

The project workers recalled that "in their eyes, I saw eagerness and the hope for Dragon Mound." "We started regular meeting to speak out everyone's visions, and gradually we invited the local people to join. At first, they were suspicious of our motives until we found our passion in the village. Thereafter, the local participants increased and even prepared refreshments for the meeting. I thought the time is ripe and suggested organizing an association to promote the good life and health ecology for this community."

By applying these actions, the residences integrated individual opinions, and set up clear community missions and visions based on their needs and wishes. Under the directions from SWCB, they shared knowledge about revitalization and took the rule of Community Empowerment: people, culture, land, view and product. Now, there is no par with the local residences or new settlers to organize.

Due to promotion of the rural revitalization concept, members of the association started searching for the valuable old architectures including the old houses, turrets, acting stages etc. Now, the community established their website, published a tour map and guidebook, and built a landmark at the entry of the village. After the press reported, media started interviewing the community leaders and eco-experts. After scientific investigation, they found here existing special ecosystem including butterflies, beetles, frogs and fireflies etc. At the same time, more and more new inhabitants moved here and started a new retired life. Furthermore some unemployed young fellows returned to their homeland for new living styles.

After a common consensus for a healthy Dragon Mound community among residents was reached, the next step is to construct a sustainable environment and industry. Firstly, agriculture is the first choice, especially the non-toxic and organic agricultural products. The mountain yam, sweet potato and bamboo are major traditional crops of Dragon Mound, and products have been popular with consumers because of their non-toxic/organic cultivation. Secondly, how to develop the rich tour resources and attract tourists were also discussed. According to the experiences of community empowerment, successful factors would cover the following:

Establishing community organizations

The residences set up New Taipei City Life & Environment Promotion Association (Fig. 2) with volunteers and experts who conducted the incubation project (Fig. 3). The organization aims for community-buildings, community executive units, administrative organizations and factions, community charters, hiring of workers, and procurement of materials etc (Fig. 4). Furthermore, the website was established for information (Fig. 5).

Restoring the environment

The farmlands in mountains had existed for a hundred years. Along the Shuangxi river, the stone-built terrace and paddy fields were carefully maintained by the ancestors. Forest edge species are attracted to irrigation canals and woodlands (see Fig. 6). Regarding ecological functions, the terrace could create values on formation of beautiful landscapes, ground textures, cultural conservation and inheritance. However, with the migration toward cities and the aging population, these terraces are gradually abandoned and then dried out. The Paddy Ecosystem Restoration Project beginning 2011 to restore 2.9 hectares of farmland. Eleven farmers have been growing crops on 1.6 hectares of the land without using chemicals, while the remaining 1.3 hectares, which have been fallow or dry, has been returned to be used as rice paddies. After the restoration, the area is filled with the hopeful vista of young water plants. More than 50 species of frogs, which are nearly half the number of all frog species in Taiwan, could now be found in Gongliao (see Fig. 7), also some endangered fish species stay in this area Oryzias latipes and Ceriagrion melanurum have been sighted.

Innovating green products

Because of the unique topography of New Taipei City, the terrace paddy field had become a special landscape feature. The Forestry Bureau "Terrace Paddy Field Ecology Preservation and Restoration Project" visited Gonliao in September. Following the terrace restoration project in Neiliao Mountains, Gonliao, the "Eco-Harmony Rice" (see Figure 8) has been launched. After promotion, the Eco-Harmony Rice was ordered by a famous pastry shop with a double market price ( CNN Report, 2012).

Moreover, the first 1,300 kg of rice produced from Gonliao paddy fields was purchased by the famous Hai-Shan Bakery at once. The bakery created a new rice cake brand "Fragrance of Eco-Harmony" and launched it at mid-September. The new rice cake, combining the strong taste of home from the historical bakery with the rich ecology in Gongliao, has also become the first example of how traditional bakeries lead communities to support eco-agriculture. Manager Lin is the second generation of Hai-Shan Bakery owners. He decided to support the Terrace Restoration Project by real actions. He said the bakery is willing to support local businesses, and he hopes in the future the peanut and vegetables used in the rice cake can also come from Gongliao (CNN Report, 2012).

Overall, as terrace paddy fields in hills and mountains are situated in the intersection of wetland and forest ecosystems, the ecological marginal effect is even stronger. With this advantage, terrace restoration in Gongliao should be able to create a rich biodiversity. The labor spent in the rice field both creates healthier food and benefits the environment. The public value of these types of rice far exceeds the market price of normal rice.

Utilizing the rural view and culture resources

Due to promotion of rural revitalization concept, the members of the association had published a community press and established a website. They then searched for the valuable old architectures including the old houses, turrets, acting stages etc. (Fig. 9), and published a tour map (Fig. 10) at the entry of the village.

DISCUSSIONS

The experience of the revitalization of Gongliao county and Dragon Mound village showed that the necessity operation works if it is well coordinated with politic, economy and society power (Fig. 11). These three elements cannot stand without government assistance, industry rebuilding and residences' self-effort. Liu (2002) indicates the rural features and values of folk culture can be understood and affirmed through the extension of citizen participation and the plan for village renewal. In this way, the unique rural vitality and vigor can continue and that villagers can recognize their "hometowns" and attach their affections to them once again, making villagers feel honored with their villages and take pride in living in them (Huang et al., 2011). The results showed that a successful rural community revitalization needs to upgrade their core agriculture value and attract young fellow to return to his homeland. In addition, although tourism really makes significant economic outcomes for rural communities, it is important to be reminded that rural community tourism is not the only approach for rural development. Chen and Chu's (2008) analyzed the implement efficiency of the Structure Plan of the Rural Landscape Management, and then introduced the regeneration and basic training plan of rural villages. In the future, the residents of rural villages can obtain the assistance and guidance by professional team, so as to raise the wish of community development, and to improve the environmental landscape of rural villages.

Wiber et al. (2009) discussed the outcomes of a project that engaged researchers and fishers together in adapting participatory social science approaches to the purposes and the constraints of community-based fisher organizations. Thomson and Gray's (2009) used documentary material and data from interviews and concluded that combined with co-management system and community principles, there will be an effective form of fisheries governance. Pita et al. (2010) investigated commercial inshore fishers' perceptions of participation in the decision-making process and attitudes towards a new management regime _ the Inshore Fisheries Groups (IFGs).

Community management has been an important public affair including planning, design, construction and results sharing of public development facilities by the local residents in a community. In addition, motivation, inspiration, and consensus among all the residents are critical for a complete and successful development project to not only meet basic needs but also significantly upgrade the living standard and quality of the residents in the community.

This study showed that the main problems of community-building are a serious lack of professional human resources and the different paces of village policies, thus, community-building results in fragmented communities. Incubation projects receive acclaim in their communities; however, experts do not understand the communities in short term, and some new groups would lower the functions of the incubation projects. Currently, community charters do not have the motivation of intrinsic need in communities, and thus, are "good" on paper only. Hiring of workers and procurement of materials can help to enhance the characteristics of a community, if there are good ideas within the community. Communities consider regulations on rural regeneration to be fair, and a good policy that allows communities to be themselves. Experts are not at all concerned regarding the problems of community participation, human resources, or factions, believing these to be merely the reactions of initial implementation. Experts are more concerned about whether the communities have common objectives in community development, and whether they have the implementation mechanisms and consciousness for a community charter, as these are the important abilities of residents in understanding their rights and obligations. Experts also hope that the implementation of rural regeneration plans can be slower, providing the communities sufficient time to discuss issues in order to achieve the "human and environment" objectives of communications and consensus.

CONCLUSION

Results of this study indicate that successes of the community revitalization are related to coordination of politic, economy and society power. Though added-value agricultural product and rural tourism are the most promising elements in community development management, it requires involvement and cooperation among the residents, professional community planners and township government officials. In the study, community development management was carried out through a series of town-hall meetings and public hearing to formulate the consensus, planning and action for the local development projects. Problems and difficulties imposing negative impacts on the community development were also identified and studied to obtain proper solution and improvement tactics to help seek appropriate resources and means for better development management of the community with local characteristics and uniqueness. Following the "top-down directive assistance" from government and "bottom-up self-management" from community people, it is believed that Gonliao County and Dragon Mound village shall be a model for another rural village in Taiwan in the near future (Fig. 12).

REFERENCES

  • Azuma, Masanori (2011). Remodeling of Rural Village: The Combination of Taiwan Leisure Farm and Japan Farm-stay Garden. Proceedings of 2011 International Conference of Rural Regeneration, pp. 15-21.
  • Chen, J. C. and Chu, J. M. (2008). The Structure Plan of the Rural Landscape Management and the Development of Rural Village. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation Technology, 3(4), pp. 222-233.
  • Council of Agriculture. (2010). Statute for Regeneration of Rural Villages Opens New Page for Rural Revitalization. (Posted on July 14, 2010) Retrieved on August 1, 2012 from the Council of Agriculture Website. http://www.coa.gov.tw/view.php?catid=22040
  • Huang, J. Y., Chen, M. S. and Tsai, B. K. (2011). Perceived Economic Benefit Analysis of Analysis of Rural Tourism through Rural Community Development. Journal of Management Practices and Principles, 5(3), pp. 34-55.
  • Huang, M. Y. (2011). Case Studies on Rural Regeneration Policy in Taiwan. Proceeding of 2011 International Conference of Rural Regeneration, pp. 139-149.
  • Laconte, Pierre (2011). European Policies Affecting sustainability of Urban and Rural Areas: Future Challenges and Selected Best Practices. Proceeding of 2011 International Conference of Rural Regeneration, pp. 1-13.
  • Liao, A., Huang, C., Cheng, C. W. and Shaw, D. (2012). Taiwan: Healthy "Eco-Harmony Rice" Guarantees Revival of Biodiversity. (Posted on January 16, 2012) Retrieved on August 5, 2012 from the CNN Website. http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-731798
  • Lin, Z. and Akiyama, K. (2012). Rural Planning and Leisure Farms in Taiwan. The Bulletin of the Faculty of Agriculture, Kagoshima University, No. 62, pp. 1-21.
  • Liu, C. Z. (2003). A Study on the Citizen Participation in the Process of Village Renewal-the German Experience, Journal of Agricultural Economics, 71, pp. 157-193.
  • New Taipei City Government. (2012). Introduction of Gongliao. Retrieved on August 10, 2012 from the New Taipei City Government Website. http://foreigner.ntpc.gov.tw/_file/2968/SG/46036/D.html
  • Pita, C., Pierce, G. J. and Theodossiou, I. (2010). Stakeholders' participation in the fisheries management decision-making process: Fishers' perceptions of participation. Marine Policy, 34, pp. 1093-1102.
  • Soil and Water Conservation Bureau. (2010). Statistics of Training Community Manpower. (Posted on August 20, 2012) Retrieved on August 22, 2012 from the Soil and Water Conservation Bureau Website. http://empower.swcb.gov.tw/statistics.aspx.
  • Thomson, K. and Gray, T. (2009). From community-based to co-management: Improvement or deterioration in fisheries governance in the Cherai Poyil fishery in the Cochin Estuary, Kerala, India? Marine Policy, 33, pp. 537-543.
  • Wiber, M., Charles, A., Kearney, J. and Berkes, F. (2009). Enhancing community empowerment ???


Index of Images

  • Fig. 1 Location of Gongliao

    Fig. 1 Location of Gongliao

  • Fig. 2 New Taipei City Life & Environment Promotion Association

    Fig. 2 New Taipei City Life & Environment Promotion Association

  • Fig. 3 Volunteers and Experts Conducted the Incubation Project

    Fig. 3 Volunteers and Experts Conducted the Incubation Project

  • Fig. 4 Discussion for strategy and planning of sustainable developments

    Fig. 4 Discussion for strategy and planning of sustainable developments

  • Fig. 5 New Taipei City LEPA website

    Fig. 5 New Taipei City LEPA website

  • Fig. 6 Paddy ecosystem restoration

    Fig. 6 Paddy ecosystem restoration

  • Fig. 7 Organisms returned to the local ecosystem

    Fig. 7 Organisms returned to the local ecosystem

  • Fig. 8 Eco-harmony rice

    Fig. 8 Eco-harmony rice

  • Fig. 9 Rural view and culture resources

    Fig. 9 Rural view and culture resources

  • Fig. 10 Community tour map

    Fig. 10 Community tour map

  • Fig. 11 Three elements of rural revitalization

    Fig. 11 Three elements of rural revitalization

  • Fig. 12 The revitalization of Dragon Mound

    Fig. 12 The revitalization of Dragon Mound

  • Table 1 The evolution of Taiwanese rural areas

    Table 1 The evolution of Taiwanese rural areas

  • Table 2 Statistics of training community manpower

    Table 2 Statistics of training community manpower

Download the PDF. of this document (524), 2,222,936 bytes (2 MB).