ECO-SEA: The Ethnobotanical Conservation Organization for South East Asia
Tado Cultural Ecology Conservation Program
Indigenous Biocultural Diversity

The Tado Cultural Ecology Conservation Program is the first biocultural diversity research and conservation effort in Eastern Indonesia to be fully administered and implemented by an indigenous community.

At the heart of the project is the Tado’s realization that they alone are ultimately responsible for conserving and revitalizing the cultural traditions and ecological systems that underlie their uniqueness as a people.

Program Highlights
In five years 24 Tado P3MT research associates have documented over 700 uses of some 300 plant and insect species, produced a series of bilingual booklets on ethnobiological traditions (foods, medicines, handicrafts, lifecycle rituals, stories, and songs), submitted 5 papers for scientific publication, and sent 4 Tado community members to present seminars at 3 international conferences.
  • Fifteen research associates are on P3MT staff, working on individual research projects including surveys of medicinal plants and ethnobotanical knowledge, traditional foods, community nutrition, edible insects, heirloom rice cultivars, and Tado genealogy, history, and cultural practices.


Tado Community Research and Education Center (P3MT)

Tado research associates have received training in plant taxonomy, field ecology, ethnobotanical research techniques, herbarium and museum curation, computer technology, and office administration.

The Tado Community Research and Education Center contains a resource library, community herbarium, ethnobotanical museum, entomological collection, specimen processing lab and computer lab.

Community-Based Ecotourism in Tado

In order to simultaneously conserve Tado traditions and provide an alternative form of income for the Tado community members, in 2006 ECO-SEA provided baseline training to Tado in developing a community-based ecotourism program. P3MT staff members, Tado elders, and community leaders prioritized traditions for inclusion in cultural heritage tourism, and drew up a community involvement and benefits sharing plan, a Code of Ethics and a Code of Conduct. With financial support from One Heart Many Rhythms, the Tado are completing a series of trilingual interpretive booklets on key traditions (wild-harvested and heirloom foods, traditional medicines and life-cycle ceremonies) for use in the tourism program and widespread distribution throughout the community.

Our Achievements

Ten volumes containing research results have been published internally by P3MT and ECO-SEA and reviewed by hundreds of Tado community members.

Five Tado research associates and elders have presented research results at international conferences, resulting in a number of jointly-authored scientific publications.

The Tado have raised 10 - 15% of the annual program budget through handicraft sales.

Material aid programs ongoing with five local elementary schools and one Tado settlement that initiated a water supply construction project.

Our Beginnings

The Tado Cultural Ecology Conservation Project, or TCECP, is the flagship project of ECO-SEA. The Tado Cultural Ecology Conservation Program was initiated in 1999 as part of an ethnobotanical pilot study sponsored by the University Research Expeditions Program (UREP).

Four Tado research associates investigated plant-based traditions together with a group of eight UREP "participant-donors" (volunteer field workers), led by Dr. Jeanine Pfeiffer, ECO-SEA Executive Director. In 2000, with sponsorship from the U.S. Fulbright Commission, the Tado research team doubled in size, a research center was constructed, and an MOU was signed between ECO-SEA, the Tado Council of Elders (tua-tua adat), and two village heads representing the Tado community of 3000 households.

Between 2000 – 2005, the P3MT was established and staffed with Tado community members (originating from the 12 traditional settlements) who are divided into four teams: anthropology, nutritional survey, herbarium/ insect collections, and ethnobotanical museum. Additional funding was provided by the University of California Pacific Rim Research Program, the National Science Foundation UC Davis Biological Invasions IGERT, and the Davis Botanical Society.

Annual Report 2000