A joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/IUCN reactive monitoring mission to the World Heritage property took place in 2006 as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 29th session (Durban, 2005). The objective of the mission was to assess the steps taken by the State Party to implement the recommendations of earlier missions, in 2001 and 2005, and the feasibility of the Conservation and Management Plan. The mission defined corrective measures to address the threats to the property with a view to possible removal of the site from the List of World Heritage in Danger. These were agreed upon by the Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006).
In its report of March 2007, the State Party refers to various initiatives that were presented to the April 2006 monitoring mission and has initiated some but not all of the corrective measures, as follows:
a) A resource strategy:
The aim was to provide a resource strategy for national, provincial, municipal and villages levels to enable the implementation of the Conservation and Management Plan and particularly the stabilisation of the rice terraces and sustaining local rice cultivars. Although no progress is reported on an overall strategy, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) released in December 2006 the last instalment of the funds allocated by the State Party to aid in the conservation and preservation of the rice terraces after the property was placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger, for an amount of USD 102,396. These funds will be used for the following at identified priority sites:
(i) The rehabilitation of concrete irrigation systems;
(ii) Watershed management – reforestation;
(iii) Agricultural management – repair of rice terraces.
b) Adequate management mechanisms to implement the Management Plan:
In response to the need for a functioning ‘site management authority with qualified staff’, the Ifugao Province has recently created the Ifugao Cultural Heritage Office (ICHO) and abolished the former site management authority, , under the Provincial Ordinance No. 2006-032, including the creation of a post of Cultural Officer. The ICHO will have the following functions:
(i) To safeguard the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of the Ifugao people;
(ii) To ensure the protection, preservation, and conservation of the local cultural and historical heritage of Ifugao people;
(iii) To ensure the implementation of activities for the promotion, development, protection, transmission and conservation of local culture and arts;
(iv) To encourage the development of culture and arts down to grassroots level.
The creation of this Office is a positive step forward, but it needs adequate resources. The implementation of the Conservation and Management Plan should be added to its list of functions.
c) Zoning and land-use plans:
No progress is reported on their establishment.
d) Plan for promotion of community based tourism:
Although no progress is reported on an overall plan for community-based tourism in the World Heritage property, the State Party indicates that on 21 July 2007 a Multi-stakeholder workshop will discuss, amongst other subjects, the Sustainable Tourism Development Programme which is part of the 2003-2012 Master Plan for the Province.
e) Controls for infrastructural developments:
In September 2006, the UNESCO National Committee (UNACOM) organized a meeting with the Provincial Government of Ifugao and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).It was agreed that a 10-week workshop be organized to link the Provincial Government with the University of Santo Tomas, Center for Conservation of Cultural Property in the Tropics, on the theme: “Developing Infrastructure Guidelines for the Rice Terraces Heritage Sites of Ifugao”. It should take place during the first semester of 2007.
f) A strengthened reafforestation programme
Reafforestation will benefit from the funds released by the State Party (see above).
It is essential that the Conservation and Management Plan becomes the main tool for sustainable development at the property. Currently although progress has been made in a number of areas, these do not seem to be coordinated or strongly focused on the specific needs of the property. The resources allocated by the national authorities and Ifugao Provincial Government are still inadequate to address the conservation challenges identified in the Conservation and Management Plan prepared with Emergency Assistance from the World Heritage Fund.
In reviewing the progress made by the State Party against the measures identified by the Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006), the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS consider that a revised and more realistic timeframe should be established to reflect the challenges to be addressed and the reality on the ground, alongside the definition of appropriate benchmarks. It is further suggested that the State Party should consult with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS over the next year to develop the above mentioned benchmarks and timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures, for consideration by the Committee at its 32nd session in 2008.