Manila (Philippines) 28 March to 4 April 1995  
1.    Purpose of the meeting  
Following a decision by the World Heritage Committee at its seventeenth  
session in December 1993 to undertake regional thematic studies on cultural  
landscapes, the Philippine National Commission for UNESCO, the Department  
of  Foreign Affairs, the Department of Tourism and the National Commission  
for Culture and the Arts, hosted the expert meeting "Regional Thematic  
Study Meeting on the Asian Rice Culture and its Terraced Landscapes".  
The meeting was held in Manila and Banaue from 28 March to 4 April 1995. The  
results of this meeting are here presented to the World Heritage Bureau for  
consideration. The full report will be made available to the nineteenth  
session of the World Heritage Committee.  
2.    Introduction  
Throughout the Asia-Pacific region mountainous terrain has been, over the  
centuries, shaped into landscapes of terraced pond fields for the  
cultivation principally of rice, but also of taro and other crops. These  
landscapes exist, both as archeological sites and as living landscapes  
which continue to be used an maintained by the people who created them. It  
is essential to conserve outstanding representative examples of these  
landscape that are found in almost all Asian countries, both for their  
intrinsic value and for what they can teach about enduring systems of  
human-nature interaction.  However, it is not only the physical structure  
of the sites that must be conserved.  It is necessary to analyze the  
different factors that are integrated in these structures.  Over the  
centuries, traditional culture has developed a sophisticated support system  
of cultural, socio-economic, ecological, agricultural, hydraulic and other  
practices that continue to exist up to the present day in order to maintain  
these sites.  To preserve the life of these sites, including wild living  
organisms (biodiversity) and their specific habitats, it is necessary to  
continue  the delicate interrelationship between the culture and its  
traditional systems.  
These are monuments to life itself.  These landscapes celebrate the  
traditional lifestyle of the Asian people.  It is this particular regional  
culture's special imprint on and relationship with nature manifested with  
significant aesthetic and harmonic values.  It is a landscape that is being  
renewed daily and will continue its existence for as long as the unbroken  
line of this lifestyle continues.  
Asians celebrate rice as an important staple and as the basis for many of  
their traditional practices, myths and beliefs.  
It is appropriate that any cultural heritage conservation program be inter-  
agency, multi-disciplinary, and inter-governmental in nature. This regional  
meeting examines the special Asian relationship to rice as expressed in the  
rice-growing landscapes found all over the region.    
3.    Case studies and regional comparative overview  
19 delegates from Asia made presentations about rice culture in their  
countries (China, Korea, India, Indonesia, Japan, Myanmar, Philippines and  
Thailand). Cultural landscape studies from other parts of the world  
(Australia, Europe, South America) provided an additional context for  
discussions. In addition, a number of theoretical papers were presented, on  
both cultural and natural aspects including the importance of community  
involvement. Presentations by UNESCO, IUCN-CNPPA, and ICOMOS outlined the  
Global Strategy within which the identification, evaluation and  
conservation of specific regional landscape types are to be considered. A  
summary of these presentations can be found in ANNEX III.  
There was an in-depth examination of the Ifugao rice terraces of the  
Philippine Cordillera, including a field visit to the terraces themselves,  
which have been nominated by the Philippine Government for inclusion on the  
World Heritage List as a continuing cultural landscape.  The Ifugao  
Terraces Commission established by Philippine President, Fidel Ramos, in  
1994, presented its master plan for the conservation and development of the  
site. During the course of the meeting, this case study of the Ifugao  
terraces served as a "type-site" against which propositions of the experts  
were tested and evaluated.  
This wide-ranging background on both the ecology of rice landscapes and  
diverse cultural manifestations of terraced pond-field agriculture  
underscored for the experts the complexity of the relationship between  
nature and human cultures which has shaped the distinctive terraced pond-  
field agricultural landscapes of Asia and the Pacific.  It was noted that,  
in addition to the case-studies presented at the Manila meeting, terraced  
pond fields are characteristic of the Himalayas, central and south China,  
Java, Sumatra and Sulawesi, many of the high islands of Polynesia and  
Melanesia, as well as many other areas of the Asia-Pacific region.  A  
substantial body of ethnographic, archaeological and ecological literature  
is available on the various aspects of this landscape type, as a result of  
decades of research by scholars.  The experts felt that it would be  
important for the Committee to consider the full body of this  
interdisciplinary scholarly research in its evaluation of future  
nominations of specific terraced pond-field agricultural landscapes.    
4.    Issues considered by the experts  
4.1   Asian Terraced Landscapes  
4.1.1  Definition   
The Asian rice culture and its terraced landscape should be seen as a  
component in a wider series of those landforms transformed by human action  
through agricultural practices. The entire Asia-Pacific region is  
characterized by the technique of pond-field agriculture, which modifies and  
shapes the landscape. The application of the technique to mountainous terrain  
has created a cultural landscape of terraces. These terraces provide habitats  
modified by humankind. Archaeological evidence indicates that the earliest  
terraces may have been used for the cultivation of root crops (e.g. taro),  
which continue to be  important staples for some of the region. The  
development of this technique has been widely applied to the cultures of the  
region for the production of rice. These relationships are explained in the  
following diagram:  
                    pond-fields (hydrology)  
                            slope (terrace)  
There are two broad categories of Asian rice-production landscapes:  wet and  
dry rice cultivation.  Irrigation and water management is a key issue in   
both types of cultivation. The typical, lowland rice paddied landscape is  
commercially viable, producing most of the Asian requirement for rice.    
The most spectacular terraces are found in the mountainous areas of the  
region, where the difficult terrain demands a very laborious method of  
terrace construction.  In response to the harsh environmental conditions for  
rice growing and maintaining a lifestyle in the mountains, strong cultural  
traditions have evolved, governing all aspects of daily life and agriculture.  

These factors are essential in maintaining the terraces and the lifestyle of  
its inhabitants and ensure an  enduring relationship with nature itself.  
The meeting therefore focused on high-altitude, pond field cultivation rather  
than the lowland rice agriculture landscape.  
Four types of terrace wall construction are to be found in the Asian rice  
landscapes.  In the gently sloping topography of the lowlands, the paddy  
walls are constructed of packed earth to an average height of approximately  
0.50 meters.  When the slopes are steeper, the lower part of the paddy wall  
is constructed of stone and topped with a low packed earth wall.  Both wall  
types are also found in terraces on the gentler slopes of the highlands. The  
terracing on steeper slopes is more visually spectacular and more difficult  
to construct.  The steep terrain no longer allows the use of packed earth  
walls and so two types of stone construction are employed.  The first is a  
vertical wall constructed of stone; the second is a canted wall for steeper  
slopes.  Since the ponds are constantly flooded, the lips of walls are  
constructed to contain the water, considerably higher than the water level or  
concave to prevent water spillage.    
4.1.2        Evaluation of terraced landscapes Specific attributes of terraced pond-field agriculture  
Some kinds of modification and transformation of the natural surroundings   
that are significant for evaluating pond-field terraced agricultural  
landscapes in the Asia-Pacific region, with emphasis on their cultural and  
ecological integration in relation to continuing evolving local systems of  
knowledge and technology include:  
      Climatically-related (water)  
      *  watershed management (in particular forest protection and  
      *  irrigation works (weirs, dams, sluices, canals, tunnels,   
      *  heavy engineering works especially for drainage (self- standing  
         stone walls, deep channels);  
      *  hydraulic controls of internal as well as external water flow;  
      *  hydraulicking (movement by water) of rock, soil, earth and organic  
         material from higher sources.  
      Edaphically-related (soil)  
      *  major earthworks in mountainous terrain (excavation,  leveling,  
         filling, dyking of terraces);  
      *  embankment walling and buttressing with boulders, stone;  
      *  devices used for repairing damaged terraces (due to avalanches,  
         earthworm-induced seepage, earthquakes,  cloudbursts, river  
      *  recycling of soil nutrients by field-to-field transport.  
      Biotically-related (biomass, biodiversity)  
      *  organic residue management of weeds including water ferns,   
         aquaculture of fish and other edible fauna (snails, shell-fish,  
         mole crickets, etc), blue-green algae, and varied  forms of edible  
         flora other than the principal cultivars  (rice and taro);  
      *  transport and distribution of organic fertilizers of domestic and  
         wild origin (including green manure);  
      *  intercropping of legumes and other vegetables, root crops, spices,  
         and lesser known plants of food and medicinal  value;  
      *  development and maintenance of adjacent woodlots;  
      *  routinely selected and appropriately placed varieties of major  
         cultivars (rice, etc).  
      Ethnoecologically-related (in general)  
      *  fine-tuning, synchrony, and interlocking of cropping cycles and  
         resource flows with the organization of labour;  
      *  linkages and integration of religious and social traditions and  
         adaptations with the modifications and transformations of the  
         landscape noted above.  General  evaluation indicators  
In addition, the following broad indicators were defined, on the basis of the  
study of terraced landscapes, as being among those that should be taken into  
consideration in the evaluation of specific examples  of continuing cultural  
landscapes in general:  
      *  Traditional knowledge and technology and cultural-ecological  
      *  Involvement of local people in active maintenance and modification  
         of the landscape.  
      *  Degree of transformation of the natural landscape.  
      *  Evolution and survival over time.  
      *  Completeness of physical unit.  
      *  Cultural tradition/identity.  
      *  Comparative value within region.  
      *  Significance in cultural, economic, social, and/or religious  
         development of region.  
      *  Representative nature of landscape type.  
      *  Degree of enhancement of biodiversity (fauna, flora, domesticated  
         livestock, and cultivated crops).  
      *  Authenticity/integrity.  
      *  Necessary management and support conditions in place.  
4.1.3 Management and Conservation   
1.    Objectives of conservation policies for Asian Rice Terrace Landscapes  
An overriding principle of conservation is the sustainability and continuity  
of the balanced cultural and ecological integration between humanity and  
nature which gives rise to the landscape. In particular the following  
objectives should be pursued:  
      *  environmental sustainability (in space and time), i.e. the  
         protection of natural processes and cycles and the ecological system  
         in place (including the protection of soils, water and biodiversity  
         in fauna, flora and domesticated crops);  
      *  protection of characteristic landscape features including  
         technological aspects such as water channels, irrigation and  
      *  maintenance and strengthening of living cultural traditions,  
         including increased awareness of the value of these traditions;  
      *  maintenance of the economic viability of farming and traditional  
         landuse systems using traditional knowledge-based technology;  
      *  strengthening the capacity of the local community to cope with  
         external pressures and forces.  
2.    Means and mechanisms for conservation planning for Asian Rice Terrace  
It is particularly important to develop policies in the following key issues:  
      *  Greater community empowerment, so that local and indigenous  
         communities, especially those people directly involved in the  
         evolution and maintenance of the shaped landscape, are able to  
         determine to the maximum extent possible the content of the  
         conservation plan and to participate in its implementation;  
      *  Awareness building of the potential impacts of tourism on the local  
         community, the landscape and the environment; community  
         determination of the form of tourism which takes place;  
         redistribution of tourism revenues so that the local community  
         benefits; and information to, and education of visitors of the  
         significance of the culture and the landscape of rice terraces;  
      *  Determination of appropriate zones (including buffer zones) and  
         their boundaries which identify the outstanding features themselves,  
         ensure the protection of the ecosystem upon which the landuse system  
         depends and which recognize also the interactions between cultural,  
         social and administrative factors.  
In addition, the following organizational principles should be followed as  
far as possible:  
      *  The presence of a strong body, representative of and responsive to  
         the local community, responsible for overseeing the conservation of  
         the area;  
      *  This body should ensure a partnership and dialogue between all  
         interests involved, including arrangements for participation by the  
         private sector, NGOs and international organizations;  
      *  The body should be responsible for developing programmes of   
         financial and other support for the conservation of the landscape,  
         policies for the control and regulations of incompatible activities,  
         and arrangements for monitoring, feedback and review of the  
         effectiveness of the conservation plan.  
      *  All sectors of public policy need to be integrated and coordinated  
         to achieve the objectives of the conservation of the cultural  
4.2   General considerations on Continuing Organically Evolved Landscapes  
Asian rice terrace landscapes are representative of a living culture. If one  
or more such areas are to be inscribed on the World Heritage List, this will  
be under the category of "continuing, organically-evolved landscapes"  
(Operational Guidelines, para. 39 (ii)). A number of more general questions  
arise from the Asian case studies, which will be relevant to the assessment  
of other continuing, organically-evolved landscapes.   
This category of cultural landscapes presents particular challenges. Whereas  
intentionally-designed landscapes, "relict" organically-evolved landscapes  
and associative landscapes are, by their nature, more likely to be confined  
to a relatively few areas of limited geographical extent, continuing  
organically-evolved landscapes are very widespread : all agrarian landscapes  
can be considered in that light, and some other landscapes which have been  
fashioned by humanity (e.g. managed by fire regimes) can be similarly  
      The first challenge, therefore, is to find an approach to the  
      classification or typology of such landscapes so that a basis for  
      selecting from such a potentially vast field can be made.  
      The second major challenge is to develop meaningful guidance for  
      comparative evaluation of the quality of such landscapes. Without such  
      guidance, which will need to be based on the agreed criteria in the  
      Operational Guidelines, it will not be easy to establish whether or not  
      a particular site has outstanding, universal values.  
      The third challenge is perhaps the most daunting of all. Because the  
      essence of this type of cultural landscape is its dependence on a  
      living culture, the management of such landscapes has to be through the  
      community, rather than of the landscape as such (see  section 4.1.3).   
Consideration on Typology  
Rather than try to develop a world-wide categorization of cultural  
landscapes, a more pragmatic approach is suggested. This would involve  
recognition that relatively few organically evolved cultural landscapes are  
likely to exhibit outstanding, universal qualities and that the World  
Heritage community should concentrate its attention upon these. The  
indicators which might be looked for in selecting priority types of landscape  
include the following examples: the demonstration of outstanding techniques  
for coping with extreme environmental conditions (e.g. steep slopes, low  
rainfall), the excellent examples of the adaptation of cultural and land use  
to the natural conditions, the sustainability of land use over a long period  
of time, and the enhancing or sustaining biodiversity in fauna, flora and  
cultivated crops and domesticated livestock.  
Evaluation of Continuing, Organically-evolved landscapes   
Within any one priority landscape, there will be certainly be a number of  
potential sites worthy of nomination. The task of choosing which satisfy the  
World Heritage criteria will require the development of a set of evaluation  
indicators. It is desirable that these be standard (i.e. apply to all  
nominated continuing organically evolved landscapes). Examples are given  
under section 4.1.2.  
5.    Recommendations  
5.1   In order to complement and further extend the valuable discussion and  
results of the Expert Meeting in Manila it is recommended that an  
interdisciplinary, technical paper be commissioned to provide as wide a  
context as possible for the evaluation of future nominations of terraced pond  
fields. This paper,  which should consist of a search of the wide body of  
already published literature on the subject, would extend the context to  
include the entire Asia-Pacific region in which terraced pond fields are  
widespread. Such a widening will serve both the Bureau and Committee in their  
deliberations on the nominations of cultural landscapes.  
5.2   It is recommended that as soon as possible a small interdisciplinary  
and intercultural meeting be held under the auspices of UNESCO, and advised  
by ICOMOS and IUCN, to address the typology and evaluation tasks, and more  
specifically to develop a list of criteria for the selection of priority  
landscape types of a continuing, organically-evolved nature, to draw up a  
list of such priority landscape types for the attention of the Committee, and  
to prepare indicators for assessing individual nominations under these  
priority landscape types.  
5.3   It is recommended that the World Heritage Committee invite ICOMOS and  
IUCN to develop draft principles and guidelines on the management of  
continuing, organically-evolved cultural landscapes based on the initial  
ideas generated through the meeting on Asian rice terrace landscapes, but  
these need to be elaborated further and made general to all continuing,  
organically evolved cultural landscapes.   
6.    Acknowledgement  
The experts commended the World Heritage Committee, the UNESCO National  
Commission of the Philippines, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the  
Department of Tourism, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and  
the Ifugao Terraces Commission for their support.  
7.    Annexes:  
I     List of participants  
II    Programme of the meeting  
III   Summary of country studies