At its twenty-second session, the Committee approved a technical co-operation request to purchase computer equipment and for partially funding the international experts’ fees, for producing new maps for efficient and adequate management of this cultural landscape site, which is very vulnerable to a variety of adverse impacts. The UNESCO Regional Office in Bangkok is assisting the authorities of the Philippines in implementing this activity.
ICOMOS Germany expressed concern over the state of conservation and management of the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras in December 1998, following an expert mission undertaken at the invitation of the Culture Committee of the Philippines of the National Commission for UNESCO. The Ifugao Terraces Commission responded in March 1999 informing the World Heritage Centre that it has taken into consideration for future action, the recommendations made by the expert concerning the creation of a buffer zone around the rice plantation areas, the restoration of the watersheds of Batad and the promotion of traditional houses in Batad.
The Bureau was informed that the Government of the Philippines had submitted for evaluation, a proposal, work plan and budget for the GIS mapping project to the Regional Advisor for Culture in the Asia Pacific Region of the UNESCO Bangkok Office, and was awaiting response to commence the implementation of the technical work.
ICOMOS stated that the state of conservation and the concerns raised should be taken seriously, as this fragile site, like many cultural landscape sites, was extremely vulnerable to the changes of the socio-ecological system. The closely interlinking characteristics of the site are essential in maintaining the integrity of its World Heritage values.
The Observer of the Philippines expressed her appreciation of the ICOMOS mission and its recommendations. She informed the Bureau that her Government had taken note of the concerns raised, and that the President of the Philippines had recently appointed a task force to address these concerns.
The Bureau, upon examining the report of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and the Observer of the Philippines, requested the authorities of the Philippines, with the assistance of the UNESCO Regional Office in Bangkok, to submit a progress report on the implementation of the Technical Co-operation project for GIS mapping, and also report on the actions taken in addressing the concerns raised by ICOMOS experts, for examination by the Bureau at its twenty-third extraordinary session. Furthermore, the Bureau reiterated that the newly appointed Government Task Force, established by the President of the Philippines, together with various national and local authorities responsible for this site, prepare a realistic plan of corrective measures upon technical evaluation of the conservation needs of this site.