UNESCO – Ifugao Rice Terraces
The Ifugao Rice Terraces which has been described as the “Eighth Wonder of the World” against the widely-known list of seven remarkable constructions of classical antiquity, are rice terraces craved into the Ifulgao mountains by ancestors of the Batad indigenous people (the oldest mountain tribe in this area) using primitive tools more than 2,000 years ago.
Location: Cordilleras Region (Ifugao Province and Mountain Province)
Photo by Webzer
The source of irrigation water for the rice terraces is a reservoir at the top of the mountain which originates from springs. The rice terraces is irrigated from this source using a complex system of dams, and bamboo pipes. Excess water is drained to the terrace below by a small opening.
The terraces (‘paddies’) curve along the contour, and are narrow, varies from place to place, but averages between around 3 and 5 meters. Each paddy field is supported by a wall several meters high, made of mud or stones. From far, these terraces look like huge steps and will cover half the globe if laid side by side.
Because of the cool climate caused by the high elevation, crop maturity takes longer than in the lowlands. In some cases, vegetables such as cabbages and sweet potatoes are grown after the rice is harvested. The farmers, indigenous to the area, have a distinct culture that is different to lowland rice farmers, they generally own one hectare or less of terraced land, and cultivation is intensive.
Till this day, land preparation is mainly manual – the farmers puddle the soil with their bare feet.
The Ifugao Rice Terraces is a symbol of how the Philippines is a center of origin and biodiversity of rice, and exemplifies how rice, our most important food crop, is a unique and inherent part of our culture.
UNESCO World Heritage List
IN 1995, The Ifulgao Rice Terraces was was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in recognition of the living organically-evolved cultural landscape shaped by sacred traditions and the ingenuity of the Ifugao people – an outstanding model of sustainable use of limited land resources, using traditional knowledge-based technology that has evolved over the last two millennia.
Cultural Landscapes have been defined by the World Heritage Committee as distinct geographical areas or properties uniquely “..represent[ing] the combined work of nature and of man..” . This concept has been adapted and developed within international heritage arenas (UNESCO) as part of an international effort to reconcile “..one of the most pervasive dualism in Western thought – that of nature and culture”
Four municipalities and 18 barangays are covered under the World Heritage site:
Rice Terrace Clusters of Banaue: Battad
Rice Terrace Clusters of Banaue: Bangaan
Rice Terrace Clusters of Mayoyao: Mayoyao Central
Rice Terrace Clusters of Kiangan: Nagacadan
Rice Terrace Clusters of Hungduan
Photo by Ecogarden
Photo by Buccinos
Photo by Proust
Photo by Eesti
Photo by Storm-crypt
World Heritage Sites in Danger
However, The Ifulgao Rice Terraces was added to the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger in 2001 as uncontrolled tourism and the introduction of open-market economy threatened both the natural heritage of the province and the traditional practices of its inhabitants.
The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras in the Philippines is a delicate, evolving cultural landscape. In the absence of a systematic monitoring programme or a comprehensive management plan, it is, at present, impossible to guarantee the preservation and sustainable development of these rice terraces.
On 17 March 2009, the Ifugao Rice Terraces was declared a genetically modified organism (GMO)-Free zone.
The Ifugao people, guardians of this living cultural heritage of humanity, shall keep the Ifugao Rice Terraces a GMO-Free Zone as it has always been for generations. The Ifugaos shall protect the Ifugao Rice Terraces from GMO contamination and other forms of interventions that would diminish the integrity and universal value of the Ifugao Rice Terraces, so that it will continue to be a living testimony of the harmonious relationship of man and nature.
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