The World Heritage Committee, at its 32nd session in Quebec City, had requested the State Party to continue its work on the corrective measures adopted at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006). The World Heritage Committee had also requested the State Party to develop, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, a proposal for the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger and a revised timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009. Furthermore, the World Heritage Committee had asked the State Party to supply further details of the proposed mini-power project, including benefits to local communities, and to undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project.
The State Party submitted the state of conservation report on 11 February 2009, outlining progress as follows:
a) Corrective measures
i) Establishment of a functioning management mechanism at the provincial and municipal levels
The State Party reports that staff have been employed at the Municipal Local Government Units to oversee and monitor the implementation of activities focused on the restoration and preservation of the rice terraces and the associated intangible heritage. Additional staff also function as focal points for the coordination of community initiatives and the Conservation Program established by the Provincial Government. The Provincial Government, through the Ifugao Cultural Heritage Office, has assigned technical staff to provide support and to coordinate local initiatives with the provincial and national, private organizations on rice terrace conservation activities and projects. In 2008, the Provincial Government, in partnership with the Philippines’ National Economic and Development Agency (NEDA) conducted training workshops for all municipal planning teams to develop project proposals to support the conservation and protection of the rice terraces and their environment, and to promote best practices that foster alternative livelihoods for the rice terrace farmers.
In addition, a Land Summit was held in September 2008 between different agencies at the national, regional and local levels to discuss land issues and harmonise operational guidelines. A Technical Working Committee from the Provincial Government and Provincial Field Offices of the 4 National Agencies: Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, was created. The Provincial Government also established the Ifugao Provincial Council for Cultural Heritage, which encompasses multi-sectoral representatives from the community, provincial and national organizations to develop sustainable programs and strategies for the preservation and transmission of tangible and intangible heritage. Rice terrace owners have increased their recognition of the role they play in the management and conservation of the terraces as owners and heirs to the properties and their traditions.
ii) Zoning and land-use plans responding to community-based activities and traditional value systems
The State Party reports that the Barangay Ordinance for the Core, Buffer and Multi-Use Zones of the Nagacadan Rice Terraces and the Heritage Areas is being enforced. It is expected that newly staffed entities will work in developing and enacting similar ordinances in other barangays and municipal local government units. It is also reported that all heritage municipalities have their Municipal Comprehensive Land Use Plans since it is a mandated requirement for all local government units.
An additional project is related to the development of Infrastructure Guidelines for the Rice Terraces Heritage Sites of Ifugao, which foresees the implementation of four workshops to produce a comprehensive bibliography, documentation on infrastructure at the heritage sites, Guidelines for Infrastructure Rehabilitation and Development in the Heritage Zones; and Proceedings of the first meeting of the Centre for the Conservation of Cultural property and the Environment in the Tropics (CCCPET) and Ifugao Government Rice Terraces Conservation Partnership.
iii) Regulations over tourism and infrastructure developments
The State Party reports that the Provincial Tourism Development Plan is currently being updated. An initial workshop was implemented with representatives from diverse entities and it is expected that in 2009 an Ordinance on Tourism will be crafted by the Provincial Government to harmonize all local efforts and provide programme guidelines. On this same issue, it is reported that the Save the Ifugao Terraces Movement (SITMo) is a continuing activity in organising and promoting package tours in the property, in implementing an Eco-Tourism Program of the Save the Ifugao Terraces Movement that intended for youth.
iv) Regular maintenance and stabilisation of the rice terraces and lifeline irrigation systems
A project proposal was prepared in which the major damages to irrigation systems in the four sites inscribed are identified and mapped. The lists of damaged irrigation systems, collapsed/eroded terrace walls, and denuded/dwindling watershed areas; and identified indigenous and endemic species for propagation and indigenous knowledge holders were consolidated and completed. A programme has been prepared to address immediate rehabilitation, reconstruction and maintenance, endorsed by the Provincial Government to the Department of Agriculture through the NIA-Ifugao Field Office. Community irrigators or farmers groups through the Barangay LGUs undertook minor irrigation repairs, rehabilitation and improvement. The Provincial Government plans to complete the rehabilitation and maintenance of 45 existing major and minor communal irrigation systems in the four sites composing the property in support of the restoration and preservation of the rice terraces. To facilitate the participation of rice terrace owners and the strengthening of partnerships with LGUs, funds were transferred either to existing recognized farmers organizations or to the Barangay Government. The Provincial Engineering Office, ICHO and NIA-Ifugao Field Office then conducted a regular monitoring of implemented irrigation system in the Rice Terraces.
In addition, the National Government has allocated funding totalling to P20M (approx. 415,000 USD) for the construction, expansion and extension of 56 major community irrigation systems in the province. Of the total amount, 52.9% was invested for 21 community irrigation systems in the four components of the World Heritage property and 47% went to other rice terrace areas.
v) Strategies for the support and introduction of livelihood opportunities for the living Ifugao community
The Provincial Government has strongly supported and provided fund assistance to the “One-Town One Product” Project (OTOP) of different municipalities and in livelihood projects of organizations that guarantee a positive impact on the living standards of members and their communities. The establishment of the Haggiyo Enterprise Development Program (HEDP) has promoted the identification, production and marketing of local products in and outside of the province and defined mechanisms that guarantee the quality of products bearing the provincial seal. It has also facilitated the participation of community-based production groups to showcase and market their products.
The State Party also reports that the launching of the Dojo Congress in Hungduan and the adoption their OTOP enhanced the rice production, watershed maintenance and the regulation of tree cutting in forests areas above rice terraces to sustain water sources. The ICHO, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office and Municipal Agriculture Office in the 4 Heritage municipalities have conducted advocacy in all the heritage clusters for the propagation of endemic tree seedlings in all nurseries, especially the endangered and extinct species. There has also been a greater coverage within school curricula of living traditions to include traditional rice farming practices and associated rituals.
To valorise indigenous knowledge practices and the traditional transmission system, a program called ‘Nurturing Indigenous Knowledge Experts’ has been designed to work on the living dimension of knowledge transfer aided by modern literacy tools. In addition, initial efforts have been made to establish a community-based program to address the problem of diminishing labour in the conservation of the terraces. A preliminary pilot program has been implemented and entailed capacity-building activities intended for youth.
vi) Development control procedures
The State Party reports that regulations continue to be implemented for the conservation and protection of critical watershed areas and natural resources utilization. The first project in which Environmental Impact Assessment was applied was for the Ambangal Mini-Hydro Project and the results can serve as a model for future development projects. A Technical Working Group has been established to review and finalize the Provincial Environment Code that incorporates provisions such as EIA and other environmental concerns. A draft is foreseen in 2009 and will be the basis for the enactment of a provincial ordinance in that respect.
vii) Strengthening the reforestation programme
A community-based watershed management program of the Provincial Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources (PAENRO) and Municipal LGUs is being implemented. The Provincial Government maintains its nurseries in the municipalities of Lagawe, Kiangan, and Tinoc whereas the municipalities of Banaue, Hungduan and Mayoyao have their own municipal nurseries. Also, a Provincial Road Openings Reforestation Program (PRO-REFOREST) is being implemented, in which every road opened is planted with trees to restore the interrupted ecosystems of the area/s affected. In addition, Barangay communal watershed areas are being delineated.
b) Proposed Mini-hydro Power project
The State Party report provided information on a feasibility study for a Mini-Hydro Power Plant to be built at Kiangan (Ifugao Province), i.e. in a different location with respect to the initial proposal and outside of the World Heritage property. The report indicates that the project aims to secure funds that will be used to support local activities for the conservation and management of the rice terraces, thus providing a good example of locally based and sustainable energy development generating employment and other means of livelihood that will improve the economic conditions of the community. According to the State Party, the feasibility study was completed in September 2008 and works have commenced in December 2008. The World Heritage Centre received a copy of the feasibility study (including an EIA) from the Tokyo Electric Power Corporation (TEPCO) on 27 February 2009.
c) Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger
Within its report, the State Party proposed a “desired state of conservation” for the World Heritage property, presented on behalf of a wide range of stakeholders, including the local community. This document includes a number of suggested quantitative and qualitative objectives for the rehabilitation of the rice terraces under the following headings:
i) Achieve sustained restoration efforts for the Ifugao rice terraces;
ii) Strengthen the infrastructure network that support the rice terraces conserve ation programme;
iii) Ensure Ifugao’s food security by enhancing agricultural production in the property;
iv) Achieve sound environmental management and a balanced ecology with sustainable natural resource management;
v) Sustainable tourism development programme, and
vi) Achieve ensured health assistance and benefits for rice terrace farmers.
A timeframe including proposed dates for the completion of the various corrective measures requested by the World Heritage Committee was provided in the State Party’s report.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies take note of the significant progress made by the State Party in the implementation of corrective measures. The State Party is encouraged to secure the necessary resources to guarantee the continuance of the activities currently in place and the sustainability of the management system. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note as well that the new location of the Mini hydro-power project, outside of the World Heritage property, does not pose any problem for its conservation, and welcome the stated intention of the State Party to finance the maintenance of the rice terraces out of the profit generated by the project.
Finally, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies warmly welcome the effort made by the State Party, together with all the stakeholders, in producing a draft Desired state of conservation. They will review it carefully, together with the revised timeframe, in consultation with the State Party, with a view to consolidating a text that could be examined by the Committee at its 34th session in 2010. In due time, a reactive monitoring mission to the property could be proposed for the consideration of the Committee with an aim to assess progress made against the desired state of conservation, in view of the possible removal of the property from the World Heritage List in Danger.