The State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation on 17 February 2010 as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009). The report provides detailed information on the status of implementation of the corrective measures identified, additional information on activities currently being implemented at the property and a draft proposal for the desired state of conservation.
a. Establishment of a management mechanism at the provincial and municipal levels to ensure that adequate human/financial resources are available to protect and manage the property and implement the Conservation and Management Plan for the rice terraces in the Philippine Cordilleras:
The State Party reports that heritage officers have been appointed at the four municipalities to coordinate activities related to cultural development. This is expected to facilitate communication and coordination among stakeholders and provide communities access to technical assistance. It also reports on the organization of a multi-stakeholder Ifugao Heritage Conservation Council (IHC) and a Secretariat at the provincial level, in accordance with the Management Statute of the updated 2005 Conservation Management Plan for the rice terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras.
As for the adoption and implementation of Human and Financial Resource strategy, it reports on the creation of the Ifugao Provincial Council for Cultural Heritage through Executive Order # 30, s-2008 as mandated by Provincial Ordinance Nos. 98-01, 2005-023 and 2006-032. A consultation workshop was organized to better define guidelines for the operation and implementation of the agreement with national agencies. In addition, the Ifugao Provincial Council has continued activities and supported conservation and management activities, despite limited funding. The Ifugao Cultural Heritage Office (ICHO) is now part of the provincial planning and development office and will be the lead entity for the implementation of the 10-Year master plan for the Rice Terraces and also function as the secretariat for the Provincial Council. The office implemented 100% of targets set for 2009, in compliance with the benchmarks set by the Committee for the removal of the property from the List in Danger.
The State Party also reports that work has continued on the organization and registration of Rice Terraces owners and states that the recognition of ownership by communities is important to sustain and support long term implementation of programmes currently in place. ICHO will continue to develop programmes to enhance capacities, provide technical assistance and facilitate access to funding. In 2009, ten additional organizations were registered with the department of Labour and Employment.
b. Immediate implementation of the Conservation and Management Plan, with focus on community-based activities such as zoning and land use plans responding to traditional value systems and providing regulations over tourism and infrastructure development:
The State Party reports there has been limited progress on the adoption of municipal ordinances of Community-Based Land Use and Zoning Plans (CBLUZP) of the barangays hosting the rice terraces clusters included in the property. It states that work on this issue will continue on to 2012 to prepare zoning guidelines, land use plans and actual delimitation of protected areas and engineering guidelines. It is noted that the recent update of the Provincial Physical Framework will constitute a useful reference for it as it has been tested for 8 areas and can be adopted for five world heritage sites, which have functional and active Rice Terraces organizations in place. Since this planning tool integrates the Rice Terraces Master Plan and indigenous knowledge, it can be an effective tool to facilitate the development of the community based land use and zoning plan, which is also a requirement for accessing funds. On the incorporation of a process to develop appropriate designs of tourism related facilities, the State Party reports that the developing of infrastructure guidelines was implemented from February to June 2009, with outputs submitted during the Rice Terraces Summit in August 2009 and is pending publication. Workshops were also carried out by municipal governments to exchange information between knowledge holders and technical staff and documents were produced including a bibliography on infrastructure, guidelines for infrastructure rehabilitation and development of heritage zones. It also reports that the project “Towards the Development of a Sustainable Financing Mechanism for the Conservation of the Ifugao Rice Terraces”, developed by the University of the Philippines, Los Banos in collaboration with the Provincial government, was finalized and presented in August 2009. Continuance of the project has been offered to build capacity among farmers and Local Government Units (LGUs) to institutionalize the collection and environmental and cultural fees derived from tourism and applied to conservation. The project will begin in 2010 at the Hungduan component ite. Promotion of tourism is also expected to be enhanced by the Twinning programme between the Ifugao Provincial Government and Cinque Terre World Heritage property of Italy with an Agreement signed on 25 November 2009 and the launching of the Provincial Website for Tourism in the first quarter of 2010.
As for the full implementation of the IPRA law in the Ifugao Rice Terraces Communities, the Provincial Government proposes that this benchmark be removed from the list. It recognises limited progress on this respect due to complex social issues and conflicting regulatory frameworks at the national level.
c. Resource strategy at the national, provincial, municipal and village (barangay) levels according to the management objectives determined in the Conservation Management Plan. Top priority should be given to the regular maintenance and stabilization of the rice terraces and lifeline irrigation systems and to reverse their deterioration:
The State Party reports that work has continued on the rehabilitation of all major communal irrigation systems (CIS) in Ifugao using available traditional building materials after the 2008 mapping of damages at the system and subsequent rehabilitation which was accomplished in the first quarter of 2009. It notes that 21 of the major CIS have been rehabilitated and are fully operational, highlighting that yields from rice cultivation has increased. It notes however that in light of climate change there is a need to upgraded run-off CIS to bigger water impounding basins to have sufficient water supplies. This has been partly addressed in the context of capacity building to empower terrace owners. In addition, a partial amount of the UNESCO Emergency Assistance Fund (USD 50,000) was allocated to rehabilitate 3 CIS damaged by typhoon Emong in May 2009. Activities will continue to expand to all 21 CIS at the property.
The report also provides information on the strategies implemented to support complementary livelihood opportunities, including the continuous support by the Provincial Government for material production and marketing, which include livelihood for women through the production of traditional handbags and other products. Weavers were also trained to use indigenous fabrics. The bamboo industry was also explored as an alternative livelihood mean. The sum of efforts in this respect is expected to improve living standards, empower communities in ownership and management of their properties for sustainable use and enhance tourism industry. These actions will be integrated in the Master Plan, which will be updated in 2010.
d. Maintenance and support of the rice culture in its traditional mode for long term sustainability and site conservation:
The State Party reports that efforts have continued to support traditional land use and to guarantee that varieties remain viable and available, taking stock of traditional farming practices and seed selection. Traditional knowledge and beliefs continues to be integrated not only for farming but also for the skills to manage associated infrastructure, such as retaining walls and irrigation systems and for the management of earthworm infestations. Capacity building has continued among younger men to address the transfer of knowledge and base of trainees to be employed in the restoration of collapsed walls. These have included workshops but also the establishment of schools of living traditions in each of the four municipalities. In addition, actions have continued to register aspects of the Ifugao culture, indigenous knowledge systems and practices. Documents that have been produced to date have been made available to barangays and municipal governments.
e. Strengthening and reforestation programme to include a wider range of endemic tree species to protect the watershed system for the rice terraces and prevent the introduction of exotic species in the private or communal watersheds
The State Party reports that local people are now shifting back to producing and planting endemic trees to revert the negative impact of commercial trees that had been planted in watershed areas.
f. Declaration of the World Heritage cluster sites of the rice terraces and their supportive eco-system (i.e. watershed system) as environmental critical areas, where an environment impact assessment (EIA) is required for any proposal development projects.
The State Party notes that it already considers the Rice Terraces as critical areas and reports that there is no need for additional national laws bur rather effective implementation of existing legislative measures. It also indicates the need of enhancing practices that take stock of traditional practices and culture of the Ifugao people. As for the environmental impact assessment, it notes that the successful implementation of the study for the Mini-Hydro Project can set the basis for drafting of a Provincial Environmental Code that is expected to be enacted by Provincial Ordinance by 2010.
In addition, the State Party reports on other projects and initiatives, such as:
Ambangal Mini-Hydro Power Plant, Kiangan, Ifugao
Actions have continued on this project that is expected to provide 18% of the province’s total energy demand. According to the timeline provided by the State Party, the project was expected to be inaugurated and turned over in January 2010 and will be monitored for two-years to evaluate its success as a pilot mode for renewable energy-based rural development.
The State Party provided a summary of the issues, concerns and solutions discussed during the Rice Terraces Summit, which was addressed by major stakeholders in August 2009. These include the preservation of varieties of rice, the outmigration of young and educated populations, diminishing biodiversity and use of natural resources, among others. Based on the results, the Provincial Government will facilitate additional processes to create a working group to for the achievement of the IRT 10-Year Master Plan and prepare an inter-agency action plan for FY 2010-2012 and beyond.
The project, with funding assistance from the National Federation of UNESCO Association in Japan (NFUAJ), was initiated in April 2007 by the Save the Ifugao Terraces Movement (SITMo), a local based NGO. It seeks to assist knowledge transfer between the older generation of Ifugao knowledge holders and the younger generation of Ifugaos, particularly in the sciences dealing with natural resource management, terrace construction and building techniques, and rice production, through alternative and modern education channels.
Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Sites (GIAHS) Project Launching
This project was launched in Hungduan, the pilot area on 12 December 2009. Activities have included the Site Selection Workshop, Activity Prioritization Workshop, Preparation of the Four-Year Project Operation Plan, Finalization of the Project Document and Establishment of Field Offices in the Provincial and Municipal LGUs. Field activities included documents on the Inventory of Flora and Fauna participated by the 9 barangays, Finalization of the Community-Based Land Use Planning and Zoning of the Municipal LGU and Conduct of Project Proposal Preparation Training for the Municipal Implementation Team and submission of proposals to FAO for approval. The project is expected to be operational in 2010.
In conclusion, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies recognise the efforts and the significant progress made by the State Party in the implementation of the corrective measures. They particularly note actions taken to strengthen the management system and encourage the State Party to continue its efforts to ensure the long term viability of the system by securing the required resources for effective operation and in the implementation and enforcement of legislative and regulatory frameworks for the long-term protection of the property. They welcome the progress made in reversing the deterioration of irrigation systems that are crucial for the conservation and use of the Rice Terraces. They also note activities focused on creating additional means for livelihoods and welcome their participatory nature and importance for the sustainability of the property. They further acknowledge the information provided by the State Party and the position towards the declaration of the property as environmental critical areas. They underscore, however, the importance of effectively implementing existing legislative and regulatory frameworks and to consider their revision if they are no longer adequate to respond to existing conditions, integrating traditional customs as possible. They also welcome the definition of a Provincial Environmental Code as an essential tool to identify potential threats to the property.
In light of the progress made, they consider it pertinent to request a reactive monitoring mission to assess whether conditions have been met for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger. The reactive monitoring mission would also offer the opportunity to review the desired state of conservation and provide recommendations for the State Party for the future conservation and management of the property.