Integrated European
Long-Term Ecosystem, critical zone and
socio-ecological Research

Establishing socio-ecological research platforms in Taiwan: Sharing experiences

25 July 2023

Representing the eLTER RI socio-ecological team, Daniel Orenstein and Merav Cohen from the Israel Institute of Technology traveled to Taiwan in April/May to learn about the Taiwanese experience in establishing LTSER platforms*.

Taiwan’s three platforms (with a fourth in development) were established under the leadership of Prof. Teng-Chiu Lin and with the support of Taiwan’s National Science and Technology Council (NSTC). The platforms span diverse socio-ecological systems, including an island surrounded by coral reefs, a mountainous forest with interspersed tea plantations, and a coastal site of mangrove forests, oyster farms, and wind turbines. For more about Taiwan’s LTSER platforms see here (using ‘Google translate’).

Daniel Orenstein, eLTER socio-ecological theme lead, and host River Huang from Taiwan Normal University in the district of Pinglin, known for its high altitude tea plantations. 

The platforms are in advanced states of development, with clear, policy-relevant research interests, dedicated directors, and an interdisciplinary community of scientists. Professor Lin, along with his colleague and benefactor at the NSTC, deputy director and physics professor Minn-Tsong Lin are advancing LTSER platforms as ‘core facilities’, where a diversity of scientists and stakeholders can utilize platform resources (including data, research products, and research expertise). In the space of one week, and under careful organization by the hosts, Prof. Lin and Prof. River Huang, the eLTER team managed to visit two platforms, have three sit-down meetings with various individuals associated with advancing LTSER platforms, trek uncountable kilometers across the city of Taipei, and indulge in a vast diversity of Taiwanese cuisine. While all of the efforts to advance LTSER were impressive, one of the characteristics that impressed us the most was the articulate and dedicated advocacy for long-term transdisciplinary research coming from a government advocate – a rarity among government decision makers.

Excursion with local socio-ecological researchers at Changhua LTSER platform, where pressures of depleting oysters, aging population, and intensifying solar and wind energy production rapidly change the landscape and challenge local policy making. Recently, ox driving is being promoted as the region transitions from the once thriving oyster farming industry to cultural-eco-tourism, demonstrating and providing experiential learning of traditionally unique oyster farming methods.  

We look forward to continued collaboration in the future between eLTER and Taiwan LTSER as their platforms mature and thrive, and encourage the eLTER socio-ecological community to seek out international collaborations to advance the state of socio-ecological research and its impact.

A meeting at Taiwan Normal University to discuss Taiwan’s LTSER platforms’ future development, structure and operation.   

*See here about LTSER platforms, and check out this video on how and why eLTER RI advances social ecological research.

Meeting at Taiwan’s National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) with deputy director Prof. Minn-Tsong Lin. Left to right: Merav Cohen, Prof. Minn-Tsong Lin, Prof. Teng-Chiu Lin, Assoc. Prof. Daniel Orenstein.