FAO: Rice Terraces in a ‘very critical stage of deterioration’ » Manila Bulletin News

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FAO: Rice Terraces in a ‘very critical stage of deterioration’

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By Gabriela Baron

The Ifugao Rice Terraces are now in a very critical stage of deterioration, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN).

BANAUE RICE TERRACES – The Terraces Restoration Initiative United Movement for the Preservation of the Heritage (TRIUMPH) is now undertaking the rehabilitation of 540 abandoned rice terraces to restore the beauty of the UNESCO Heritage Site, and the abundant harvest of native tinawon rice within the next two years. (Zaldy Comanda)

Banawe Rice Terraces (Zaldy Comanda)

The FAO said that the continued survival of the Terraces is threatened by various factors such as environmental degradation, unregulated development, and neglect brought by urbanization and changing values.

“[The Ifugao Rice Terraces] do not allow the local communities to overcome the poverty line,” it wrote in an undated post on its website.

The FAO also noted that the Terraces have been self-sufficient in food, timber, and water over the last century because of the landscape’s organization into woodlots and communal forests, swidden farms, rice terraces, settlement areas and water bodies, and irrigation systems.

The “Ifugao Terraces have shaped a characteristically landscape in the mountains between 800 and 1,500 meters. Indeed, they were previously forested areas while others are presumably grasslands. It is however, the availability of water that dictates the Ifugaos to build terraces and allowed them to create this system,” the FAO added.

In 1995, the 2,000-year-old irrigated rice terraces were declared a World Heritage Site by the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The Ifugao Rice Terraces are among the FAO’s Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS). GIAHS is defined as a “living, evolving system of human communities in an intricate relationship with their territory, cultural, or agricultural landscape or biophysical and wider social environment.”

The FAO is a specialized agency of the UN that leads international efforts to defeat hunger.

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