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Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras

Philippines
Factors affecting the property in 2006*
  • Changes in traditional ways of life and knowledge system
  • Financial resources
  • Housing
  • Human resources
  • Illegal activities
  • Legal framework
  • Management activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Society's valuing of heritage
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Lack of an effective site management authority and adequate legislation;

b) Absence of a finalized strategic site management plan;

c) Development of inappropriate river control structures and irregular construction in the rice terraces;

d) Diminishing interest of the Ifugao people in their culture and in maintaining the Rice Terraces;

e) Lack of human and financial resources.

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
  • The abandonment of the terraces due to neglected irrigation system and people leaving the area;
  • Unregulated development threatening the heritage area;
  • Tourism needs are not addressed;
  • Lack of an effective management system.
Corrective Measures for the property

Benchmarks for corrective measures and a time frame for their implementation, identified by the World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/IUCN Joint Reactive Monitoring Mission of April 2006, are proposed in the report and Draft Decision, for the consideration of the Committee.

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures
Benchmarks for corrective measures and a time frame for their implementation, identified by the World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/IUCN Joint Reactive Monitoring Mission of April 2006, are proposed in the report and Draft Decision, for the consideration of the Committee.
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2006
Requests approved: 4 (from 1994-2001)
Total amount approved : 153,200 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2006

A joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/IUCN Reactive Monitoring Mission to the World Heritage property took place from 18 to 24 April 2006 as requested by the 29th session of the World Heritage Committee (29 COM 7A.26). The objective of the mission was to assess the steps taken by the State Party to implement the recommendations of earlier missions in September 2001 and June 2005 and the feasibility of the Conservation and Management Plan of the Rice Terraces in the Philippine Cordilleras (June 2004). The mission also defined benchmarks for 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.

The mission noted the serious concern expressed and the strong commitment shown for the conservation of the rice terraces by the local communities. It is important to acknowledge the efforts made by local governments towards the implementation of the plans and proposals contained in the 2004 Conservation and Management Plan. Such Plan addressed all the principal issues for the protection of the World Heritage property, however it has not been implemented as expected due to the lack of an effective management structure. The main question to address at this stage is ensuring a management coordination mechanism and human and financial resources for its immediate implementation.

The mission also identified as a priority the need for new tools and strategies for the assessment of potential long-term negative impacts of development proposals affecting the World Heritage property. In particular, the following issues were considered: a) Institutional requirements for an effective management mechanism; b) Immediate actions for the maintenance of the rice culture, for sustaining the social and environmental context of the rice terraces and encouraging their economic viability; c) cultural tourism development and Infrastructure development management.

The mission findings are dealt with more in detail below.

A sustainable management mechanism is not yet in place. As recognized in the previous missions, it is urgent to progress with the implementation of the existing Conservation and Management plan and day-to-day management at municipal and village (barangay) level. The local stakeholders expressed their frustration with the limited action following the previous consultations and the insufficient explanations received as to the opportunities and constraints associated with the World Heritage commitment.

The two previous management authorities (Ifugao Terraces Commission and Banaue Rice Terraces Task Force-BRTTF) were established at national level. It was felt that a community-based, more diversified and localized management mechanism may provide the necessary sustainability and responsiveness for the needs of the living cultural landscape. The State Party has therefore proposed to replace the Ifugao Rice Terraces Cultural Heritage Office (IRTCHO) with a provincial structure whose management would be closer to the local communities. The assignment of a focal point in each municipality and, in some cases, the creation of a cultural heritage office is a realistic next step proposed by the municipal governments.

Short term funding from local government sources has been provided from the revenue allotments of the province and the municipal government. Funds have been made available by the national and local governments to repair some of the community irrigation systems and terraces. However, more co-ordinated long term funding and a more sustained local resource generation mechanisms, including tourism revenues, and marketing of local produce need to be explored and initiated.

There is a general need for relevant baseline data responding to traditional value systems in order to set up effective monitoring. The community-based land use and zoning processes, which have been initiated in the clusters of Kiangan and Hungduan, should be encouraged in order to guide local community actions and provide regulations over tourism and infrastructure development which are consistent with local heritage values. There is an opportunity to complement and support the ancestral domain claims of the local farmers under the current law. Local land use maps should reflect the watershed and irrigation system of the terraces in the five clusters.

The viability of the rice terraces is linked to the benefits the traditional use and the maintenance of the eco-cultural system bring to the Ifugao people. Development of community-based strategies for the support and introduction of complementary and culturally appropriate livelihood opportunities is a priority issue. The recommendations in the previous reports include actions for the maintenance of the rice terraces and rice production in its traditional mode and highlight the need for innovative solutions to encourage rice farming and marketing. Some current initiatives for marketing and developing the traditional “tinawon” rice are been explored but further research and development is needed.

The indigenous knowledge systems regarding the building and maintenance of the terraces and irrigation systems and watershed management may disappear if not passed on. Many attempts are therefore been made by the local government to keep the practices alive. Research and documentation of local heritage histories have been initiated by the provincial government. A school of living traditions has been supported in the Ifugao State College of Agriculture and Forestry. However, emphasis appears sometimes to be placed on the conservation of traditional practices for the exclusive purpose of living “performances”, not for their actual application to the management of the land. To address this problem, raising awareness programmes have been initiated together with a “adopt a terrace” programme.

The urgency of adaptive cultural tourism management was highlighted in the 2001 mission. An eco-tourism program is included in the Conservation and Management Plan. However, a coordinated cultural tourism strategy targeting appropriate tourism and channelling tourism income directly for the local community and to support the maintenance of the rice terraces is not yet in place and tourism initiatives are not coordinated within the World Heritage property. Although the mission agreed on the importance of tourism access to the area, as highlighted in the 2001 mission, priority should be in assessing the carrying capacity of the different clusters according to their distinctive character and ensuring ways to control culturally acceptable tourism. The awareness about the problems and potentials of tourism regarding additional livelihood opportunities for the local community seem to be high, and a there is a quest for guidance and best practice.

The urgency of managing unregulated development and assessing the impacts of infrastructure projects on the cultural landscape has been expressed in the previous missions. In 2005, a UNESCO mission evaluated the status of a mini-hydro power plant which was proposed for construction in Ifugao Province, where the World heritage property of the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras is located. The mission found that the proposed hydro plant had not proceeded. The mission, therefore, concentrated on the review of another project entitled ‘Construction of Flood Controls in the Three Barangays (villages) of Hungduan for the Preservation of the Rice Terraces’ which at the time was 90% completed. This project consisted in a series of reinforced-concrete retaining walls built along the bottom of the valleys, allegedly to protect the cultivated areas from the impact of recurrent floods. The 2005 mission made a number of recommendations to mitigate the potential adverse environmental impacts on the property derived from the project; reduce the risks associated with the inappropriate construction of the walls; and to develop adapted standards for design of infrastructure within special heritage areas.

This flood control project in the Hungduan cluster, indeed, has been planned and executed in the absence of a proper environmental impact assessment (EIA), or even of an “initial environmental examination”(IEE) required for environmentally critical areas in the Philippine legislation. The local government of Hungduan has only begun to implement the recommendations of the previous mission to reinforce the structure for safety purposes. It is raising funds to complete the recommended actions while the community will provide counterpart labor for the activity. The proposed mini-hydro plan, on the other hand, has been relocated from Hungduan cluster to Mappit and Ambabag, areas outside the WH perimeter, but which may be a potential expansion site or a buffer area for the World Heritage property. The World heritage Centre has been asked to review this new proposal, for which an EIA does not appear to have been done.

A requirement for the conduction of an appropriate EIA, including provisions for cultural heritage impact assessment, would indeed be essential to maintain the integrity of the World Heritage property. For this to happen, however, it is apparently necessary to officially designate the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras as an “environmental critical area”, which is apparently not the case today. In this context, it would be also very important to ensure that expertise on heritage conservation and traditional knowledge are included in the EIA Review Committee in order to gauge impact on all aspects of the cultural landscape.

In summary, despite the efforts made and some progress on specific issues, the recommendations of the September 2001 and June 2005 UNESCO missions have yet to be acted on and there has been no reported significant improvement in the human/financial resources available to manage the property and implement the conservation master plan (in response to Decision 29 COM 7A.26) in order to sustain the Rice Terraces as living, dynamic cultural landscape. 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2006
30 COM 7A.28
Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras (Philippines) (C 722)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-06/30.COM/7A.Add.Rev,

2. Recalling Decision 29 COM 7A.26, adopted at its 29th session (Durban, 2005),

3. Welcomes the efforts made by the local and provincial authorities for the restoration of the irrigation systems of the rice terraces;

4. Notes with concern the findings and recommendations of the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/IUCN monitoring mission (18 to 24 April 2006) that little progress has been made towards implementing the recommendations of the September 2001 and June 2005 missions, in particular that:

a) A functioning site management mechanism has not been established and that the site Conservation and Management Plan has not been implemented;

b) The resources allocated by the national authorities and Ifugao Provincial Government are inadequate to address the conservation challenges identified in the Conservation and Management Plan prepared with Emergency Assistance from the World Heritage Fund.

5. Requests the State Party to implement the following corrective measures, which constitute the conditions for the removal of the property from the List of the World Heritage in Danger, by the end of 2007:

a) Establish a functioning management mechanism at the provincial and municipal levels, and ensure that adequate human/financial resources are made available to implement the Conservation and Management Plan for the property;

b) Put in place zoning and land-use plans responding to community-based activities and traditional value systems;

c) Provide regulations over tourism and infrastructure developments to encourage community based tourism which benefits the Rice Terraces and the local communities;

d) Develop a resource strategy at the national, provincial, municipal and village (barangay) levels and put in place a five year plan, according to the management objectives determined in the Conservation and Management Plan, with top priority given to the regular maintenance and stabilisation of the rice terraces and lifeline irrigation systems so as to reverse their deterioration. The strategy will include the establishment of a long-term programme to prevent the extinction of traditional rice cultivars (seeds) safeguarding traditional rice varieties associated with the agricultural practices of the rice terraces;

e) Establish appropriate development control procedures for development projects in the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordillera, including by designating 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 proposed development projects. Cultural heritage conservation expertise should be also included in the EIA review committee;

f) Strengthen the reforestation programme to include a wider range of endemic trees species to protect the watershed system for the rice terraces and prevent the introduction of exotic species in the private or communal watersheds of the rice terraces;

6. Also requests the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies (ICOMOS and IUCN), in collaboration with the State Party, to assist the site managers of the Rice Terraces, as appropriate, to build capacity on sustainable tourism planning and management;

7. Further requests the State Party to provide the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2007, with a detailed report on the state of conservation of the property, taking into consideration the benchmarks for corrective measures proposed by the April 2006 Reactive Monitoring Mission, for examination by the Committee at its 31st session in 2007;

8. Decides to retain the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras (Philippines) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

30 COM 8C.2
Update of the World Heritage List in Danger (Retained Properties)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-06/30.COM/7A and WHC-06/30.COM/7A.Add.Rev),

2. Maintains the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:

   • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 30 COM 7A.22)

   • Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley, (Decision 30 COM 7A.23)

   • Azerbaijan, Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshah's Palace and Maiden Tower (Decision 30 COM 7A.29

   • Benin, Royal Palaces of Abomey (Decision 30 COM 7A.16)

   • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 30 COM 7A.1)

   • Chile, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (Decision 30 COM 7A.31)

   • Côte d'Ivoire, Comoé National Park (Decision 30 COM 7A.2)

   • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 30 COM 7A.3)

   • Democratic Rep. of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 30 COM 7A.8)

   • Democratic Rep. of the Congo Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 30 COM 7A.6)

   • Democratic Rep. of the Congo Virunga National Park (Decision 30 COM 7A.7)

   • Democratic Rep. of the Congo Garamba National Park (Decision 30 COM 7A.4)

   • Democratic Rep. of the Congo Salonga National Park (Decision 30 COM 7A.5)

   • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 30 COM 7A.19)

   • Ethiopia, Simien National Park (Decision 30 COM 7A.9)

   • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 30 COM 7A.15)

   • India, Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (Decision 30 COM 7A.13)

   • Islamic Republic of Iran, Bam and its Cultural Landscape (Decision 30 COM 7A.25)

   • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 30 COM 7A.20)

   • Jerusalem, Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (Decision 30 COM 7A.34)

   • Nepal, Kathmandu Valley (Decision 30 COM 7A.26)

   • Niger, Air and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 30 COM 7A.10)

   • Pakistan, Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore (Decision 30 COM 7A.27)

   • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 30 COM 7A.32)

   • Philippines, Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras (Decision 30 COM 7A.28)

   • United Republic of Tanzania, Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara (Decision 28 COM 7A.17)

   • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 30 COM 7A.14)

   • Venezuela, Coro and its Port (Decision 30 COM 7A.33)

   • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 30 COM 7A.21)

Draft Decision: 30 COM 7A.28

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-06/30.COM/7A.Add,

2. Recalling Decision 29 COM 7A.26, adopted at its 29th session (Durban, 2005),

3. Notes with great concern the findings and recommendations of the joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS / IUCN monitoring mission (18-24 April 2006), in particular that, despite the efforts made by the local and provincial authorities for the restoration of the irrigation systems of the rice terraces, little progress has been made towards implementing the recommendations of the September 2001 and June 2005 missions;

4. Regrets that a functioning site management mechanism has not been established and that the site Conservation and Management Plan has not been implemented;

5. Notes with further concern that the resources allocated by the national authorities and Ifugao Provincial Government are inadequate to address the conservation challenges identified in the Conservation and Management Plan prepared with Emergency Assistance from the World Heritage Fund;

6. Requests the State Party to implement the following corrective measures, which constitute the conditions for the removal of the property from the List of the World Heritage in Danger, by end of 2007:

a) Establish a functioning management mechanism at the provincial and municipal levels, and ensure that adequate human/financial resources are made available to implement the Conservation and Management Plan for the property;

b) Put in place zoning and land-use plans responding to community-based activities and traditional value systems;

c) Provide regulations over tourism and infrastructure developments to encourage community based tourism which benefits the Rice Terraces and the local communities;

d) Develop a resource strategy at the national, provincial, municipal and village (barangay) levels and put in place a five year plan, according to the management objectives determined in the Conservation and Management Plan, with top priority given to the regular maintenance and stabilisation of the rice terraces and lifeline irrigation systems so as to reverse their deterioration. The strategy will include the establishment of a long-term programme to prevent the extinction of traditional rice cultivars (seeds) safeguarding traditional rice varieties associated with the agricultural practices of the rice terraces;

e) Establish appropriate development control procedures for development projects in the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordillera, including by designating 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 proposed development projects. Cultural heritage conservation expertise should be also included in the EIA review committee;

f) Strengthen the reforestation programme to include a wider range of endemic trees species to protect the watershed system for the rice terraces and prevent the introduction of exotic species in the private or communal watersheds of the rice terraces;

7. Also requests the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies (ICOMOS and IUCN), in collaboration with the State Party, to assist the site managers of the Rice Terraces, as appropriate, to build capacity on sustainable tourism planning and management;

8. Further requests the State Party to provide the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2007, with a detailed report on the state of conservation of the property, taking into consideration the benchmarks for corrective measures proposed by the April 2006 Reactive Monitoring Mission, for examination by the Committee at its 31st session in 2007;

9. Decides to retain the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras (Philippines) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

 

Report year: 2006
Philippines
Date of Inscription: 1995
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iii)(iv)(v)
Danger List (dates): 2001-2012
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 30COM (2006)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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