Taiwan’s native peoples would like the government to recognize that they were hunting and farming in forest areas long before any immigrants from China arrived, which means the forests are, like, kind of theirs.

The U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Taiwan’s Indigenous Peoples’ law state that traditional territories are a basic human right of indigenous, or aboriginal peoples.

Many of Taiwan’s tribes do have special authorization to enter certain forests in mountainous areas and are allowed some hunting activities, but the land say activists, is still too much under the control of municipal authorities or the Central government.

Professors, activists and aboriginal leaders have called on the government to lift any unreasonable restrictions on indigenous peoples’ lands.

Of course not all of Taiwan’s native peoples have always lived in mountainous areas. For most of their history, a good percentage of Taiwan’s tribes lived on the plains of western Taiwan before successive waves of immigration and invasions forced some to evacuate to less populated mountainous areas. Many of not most indigenous tribes, however, do have a tradition of hunting and gathering in the central mountain areas of Taiwan.

Disputes are common over logging, access to restricted mountainous areas and other issues related to lands that have for many decades been mostly off-limits to all but the people (mostly indigenous people) who lived in the area.

As more non-native Taiwanese move closer to formerly almost exclusive aboriginal areas, new regulations appear to be needed to help protect the rights of indigenous people and Taiwan’s magnificent forests.

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