1. What is the setting of this case? What are its assets?
Yunlin County (雲林縣, population 670,000) is a county located in western Taiwan. An estimated 68% of Yunlin are farmland, situated within the Chianan Plain, the largest plain on the island. The county is well known for its agriculture, livestock, and rich fishing grounds (Wikipedia 2021).
Important landmarks are the Xilou Bridge and the Chaotian Temple, the main temple for worshipping Mazu, the Sea Goddess (Taiwan Tourism Bureau 2021).
This case study primarily focuses on Mailiao, a rural township in the northwest of the county which is home to intense industrial production, but also a series of environmental advocacy groups, including the Yunlin County Neritic Zone Aquaculture Association (雲林縣淺海養殖協會). Important community assets and sites of organizing are Gongfan Temple and the independent café and bookstore 麥仔簝獨立書店.
2. What environmental threats are there in this setting?
Rapid industrialization has been a key development in Taiwan after the lifting of martial law in 1987, leading to issues of waste disposal, deforestation, and emissions of polluting industries, especially semiconductor and petrochemical production (Grano 2015).
There have been several studies of environmental health related to Formosa Plastics’ Sixth Naphtha Cracker Complex, documenting high air pollution burden on Mailiao and Taixi townships (Lin et al. 2020)
Further, recent research has further focused both on the impact of climate change in Yunlin County, including both erosion of coastlines and flood risk (Lee & Lin 2020), as well as dramatic water shortages related to intense water demands for agriculture and the electronics industry (Huang et al. 2011), compounded by sustained droughts since 2020 (USDA 2020).