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Community Involvement

Archaeological sites, brief history of Penghu
Located remotely in the water region between Taiwan and China, Penghu has many diverse islands. Archaeologists have discovered and excavated many cultural relics and artefacts to prove that there were human activities in the archipelago at least 4 to 5 thousand years ago. Cimei was an important stone factory about four thousand years ago and is called the Nangang archaeological site. Judging from the unearthed artefacts, basaltic rocks were made into a variety of stone tools, because of its strength. There is archaeological evidence that these tools were diffused into various parts of the world and Taiwan Island.
Some historical relics and documents of the Penghu archipelago proved that in the northern Song dynasty (960 ~ 1127 AD) there were fishermen establishing temporary hamlets on the islands during the fishing seasons. It was only during the southern Song dynasty (1127 ~ 1279 AD) that permanent settlements were set up.
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The great emperor of the Yuan Dynasty, Yuan Shizu, officially set up inspection bureaux in Penghu to control the area sometime after 1281. In the last years of the Ming Dynasty, i.e. mid-17th century, some residents of south-eastern coastal China escaped to the Penghu archipelago to avoid wars and disasters. Many others later came to the islands for their fishing, mining, livestock and farming resources.

Stone fishing weirs
In early times, fishing is the main base economy in Penghu. Besides coastal, inshore and offshore fishing, many families are involved in intertidal stone weir fishing. That is why the building skills of stone weirs are of great value. The famous Double-Heart Stone Weir in Chimei, Couple stone weir of Erkan and the various fishing weirs of Jibei are good examples to show great traditional wisdom of local people in making good use of materials at hand. The local residents of Penghu utilize the tidal differences of the inter-tidal zones to build fishing weirs (called "Shi-hu" in the Chinese language) in order to engage in various fishing activities as a family sideline. Shi-hu as a trap fishing infrastructure, is one of the most primitive but wise fishing methods. It has been passed down for more than 700 years. Shi-hu are distributed in the flat and open intertidal zones of Penghu.
In the case of Penghu, it is mainly distributed in the northern part of the archipelago, although the most famous Double-hearted stone weir is located in the southern Penghu islet of Cimei. The Shi-hu fishing is a trap fishing method, in which the embankments were stacked and built with basaltic rocks and coral stones on the intertidal zone area. The weirs block fish during the tidal ebb and flow, and trap the fish in the stone embankment when the tides are low. An open and flat intertidal zone and huge tidal difference are necessary condition for the weirs to be functioning well. However, the access to coral stones and basaltic rocks, the building technology, and strong societal or family organization are the most important for building fishing weirs.
The maintenance of Shi-hu needs to be carried out regularly and frequently. In particular, during the typhoon seasons or after each individual typhoon incident, repairing fishing weirs becomes necessary and sometimes urgent. To repair the fishing weirs, it takes the most skillful and experienced group of technicians to make it right. As the weir technicians are only well trained by working, there is a shortage of such talents to implement the tasks.

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Lao-gu shi (coral walls) and wind breakers for vegetable gardens
Another example of traditional wisdom as a modern tourist attraction is the local buildings. Typical Penghu houses were built with local basaltic rocks and coral stones.
Lao-gu shi are coral blocks or stones. They were dug out of the ocean for building purposes. For the residents to fish on the seabed, they were used to build fishing weirs. The coral stones which are built into wind breakers for the vegetable gardens are call Tsai-zai, i.e. vegetable house. It is a concept of adaptation to make farming and gardening easier. It is the environmental wisdom of the traditional society of Penghu. It is the infrastructure needed for the fishing village to complete their needs for daily life and diet.
The coral stones are often cut into blocks to be used as building materials for housing. In the past, some of the lower walls of traditional buildings were made of basalt, with lighter coral stones on the top of the basalt. Although the coral stones are not very strong, they are durable enough for building various architectures. Some buildings of coral stones are even made even stronger by wind blowing which causes interlocking of the coral stones.
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Houses like these are a combination of topographical features and human activities, not only requiring local techniques and aesthetics but becoming a feature worth exploring in geo-tourism. The foral settlement in Wangan is one typical example. Wind breakers are needed for many activities in Penghu. Particularly important is the wind breakers for vegetables and for settlements. Wind breakers for vegetables and plants are often built to defence against strong winter winds.

The Penghu archipelago was set up by official government more than seven hundred years ago. It was the oldest and earliest area for formal government in the whole of Taiwan. It was under the jurisdiction of Jinjiang County, Chuanzhou Prefecture, Fujian Province. Its historical development made the cultural heritage of Penghu more diverse and much richer. For more than 400 years, the ancient battlefield relics, Penghu Tianhou Temple and the Guangxu walled city relics are all traditional cultural heritages that make Penghu distinctive.

Various local groups and associations are zealously involved in local affairs, such as the Nature Study Club, Wild Bird Federation, Zooxanthellae Association. These groups were formed to appreciate and to protect the local unique milieu. For instance, the environment of Penghu has been an ideal habitat for migrant birds. Migrant birds such as terns come here annually for seasonal nesting and foraging and make bird watching activities highly cherished. As stakeholders, these groups are serious about nature conservation and environmental protection of the islets.
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Local communities and residents show great concerns about the marine environment, because they depend on the oceanic environment for fishes and sea weeds. As a result, various communities surrounding geosites, civil societies and NGOs are all major driving forces of the Penghu Marine Geopark.

Source: Lin, J. C., Su, S. C. (2019). Geoparks of Taiwan. Their development and Prospects for a Sustainable Future