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The Lichi Badland Geopark is well-known with prominent badland due to the widespread mudstone. The popularity of unlithified and chaotic formations which are also called as Lichi mélange has long been considered to be the product of arc-continent collision between the Eurasian continent and the Philippine Sea plate, and is the principal evidence for the emergence of Taiwan Island. Exotic blocks with grey shale, mud rock or argillite, mixed with various foreign rocks of different sizes are embedded in the formation. The foreign rocks are results of tectonic collisions where the sandstones (originally deposited on the edges of the continental plate) and ultrabasic rocks of ophiolite suite are mixed. At that moment, the shearing function made the basic muds to form scaly foliation. Because the directions of the shearing and the tectonic stress are proven identical, the collisions were considered occurred in the Pleistocene epoch. Lichi Mélange contains great values in international earth science and geological research. It distributes in a long stretch along the west side of the Coastal Range, spreading from the north at Yuli of Hualien to the south at Beinan of Taitung County.
Badlands formed by argillite is a remarkable landscape on the downstream of Beinan River in Taitung. Due to the lack of clear bedding in argillite, the badlands are easily eroded by flush and therefore commonly formed are gullies, earth fingers and natural bridges. With appropriate intervention, from a scarcely remoting badland area in Taitung, Lichi Badland currently becomes an attractive destination with its spectacular landforms, ecology and wonderful agriculture products. In fact, muddy and easily eroded badland area is not suitable for agriculture; however, with the policy support of farmers’ association from the Council of Agriculture, recently Lichi has developed many fruit orchards. In which, guavas and sweet wax apples are two most famous fruits and becomes specialties of this area. Besides, the geopark promotion activities in recent years not only increase the area’s visibility, but also initiate local response to the core values of geopark. The rhythm and tempo of community life become accordant to its natural environment and cultural/economic wisdom and make it more sustainable.
A harmonious blend of people and natural landscapes brings a colorful and multi-layer picture to the discovery at Lichi badland Geopark. Visitors can enjoy great badland fruits at Lichi such as sugar wax apples and guavas; visit spectacular landscapes with the narrow strip of hill between sea and mountain in Fuyuan village. Meanwhile, Fushan presents its picturesque beauty of bay which is always in the spotlight and Fugang serves as a fishing port and a node linking Orchid and Green islands. And a rich aboriginal traditional culture can be explored in Fufong village. These allow the visitor to appreciate and comprehend geological, geomorphological, cultural, and botanical materials in the geopark.
To gain current achievements, in the early stage of geopark promotion, the local community participation and partnership were critical. The geopark promotion activities tried to incorporate local elementary schools so that a scheme of environmental education for school kids and local residents was made. With both scientific geology, geomorphology, local economic activity and cultural life, a sustainable development could be established with integrity. For example, for the community located on hills where indigenous terraced agriculture is characteristic, the physical environment is well kept. For the Han people in the plains and coastal area, live-stocking is a major economy because the soil is not fertile and cultivation is not as easy. All these various activities involve very different views and uses of the local environment and landscape. Environmental education at the geopark can then be integrated with the value of geopark so that the concept of sustainable environment can be discussed in the area to conserve landscape and unique cultures. Currently, Lichi Badland Geopark is supported mainly by two communities, Fuyuan and Lichi with special local identity and affection for community development which make expert knowledge easy to spread to local communities. Participatory planning and workshops organized by experts and the academia are key to the success of the geopark. In the long run, it is hoped that the geopark will incorporate all neighboring communities to strengthen geopark concepts and values for local geo-tourism and for a sustainable development of this remote area of Taiwan.