Located in the southwest of China, adjoining Yunnan, Guangxi, Hunan and Sichuan provinces, Guizhou is one of the most culturally and naturally rich provinces in China. Ethnic minorities account for more than 37% of the population, and over 55% of the province is designated as autonomous regions. However, Guizhou also happens to be one of China’s poorest and most underdeveloped regions, with the lowest per capita GDP ranking.
Over the next five years, GHF is partnering with UNESCO Beijing, the Guizhou Administration of Cultural Heritage (GACH), the Guizhou Province Cultural Heritage Conservation Center (GCHCC), the China Social Entrepreneur Foundation (You-Cheng), Peking University, Guizhou Normal University and Shanghai Tongji University to promote community and economic developments in the rural areas of Guizhou through heritage conservation within the local ethnic minority communities. Proper conservation will not only protect the local vernacular architecture and picturesque natural settings from modern encroachment but potentially also encourage sustainable tourism, as the ethnic minority villages have been included on the Chinese tentative list for World Heritage Site nomination.
Two villages, Dali and Heshui, have been chosen as pilots to launch the project, which will include master planning for conservation of the area’s many historic structures, including drum towers, opera stages, covered bridges, wooden barns and water-powered paper workshops, still producing hand-made paper in a similar fashion since the mid-Ming Dynasty. The project combines both tangible and intangible heritage, preserving landmark structures for future generations while adapting them to the needs of modern life, and simultaneously supporting the continuation of traditional arts and handicraft industries, thus maintaining the area’s unique and rich cultural landscape.