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Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras

Philippines
Factors affecting the property in 2008*
  • Changes in traditional ways of life and knowledge system
  • Financial resources
  • Housing
  • Human resources
  • 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 property;
  • Tourism needs are not addressed;
  • Lack of an effective management system.
Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

To be further defined through cooperation between the State Party, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, including the stabilization of the rice terraces, woodland and water management as well as management, planning, resource and tourism strategies. 

Corrective Measures for the property

a) Establish a functioning management mechanism at the provincial and municipal levels;

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;

e) Establish appropriate development control procedures for development projects in the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras, 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 Environmental 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 parts of the rice terraces.

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures
In its Decision 30 COM 7A.28, the World Heritage Committee requested that the above corrective measures be implemented by 2007. A more realistic timeframe should be developed by the State Party in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies.
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2008
Requests approved: 4 (from 1994-2001)
Total amount approved : 153,200 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2008

On 27 February 2008, the State Party submitted its report to the World Heritage Centre, presenting progress made in implementing the corrective measures.

In its report, the State Party submitted a Statement of outstanding universal value but did not submit a proposed Desired state of conservation for the property. The Statement of outstanding universal value has been reviewed by ICOMOS. This will be examined by the World Heritage Committee under Item 8 of the Agenda (Document WHC-08/32.COM/8B).

The State Party also submitted new information on recent developments with regard to the various corrective measures, as follows:

a) The contract for the Cultural Officer of the Hungduan cluster site has not yet been confirmed for 2008;

b) The Provincial government set up a Project Development Unit (PDU) at the end of 2007 to pursue resources for the conservation of the rice terraces including innovative marketing strategies;

c) The University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) in December 2007 started research into Sustainable Financing for the Conservation of the Ifugao Rice Terraces. This is allegedly meant to facilitate the proclamation/declaration of the rice terraces watershed and forest areas as “environmental critical areas”;

d) A consultation workshop was organised in October 2007 with local leaders and terrace farmers in Mayoyao, as an initial effort to document family and/or clan owners of the terraces;

e) 387 farmers from the Rice Terraces Farmers Cooperative of Kalinga and Ifugao exported 17.5 metric tons of traditional native rice to the US in September 2007;

f) With financial support from the Department of Agriculture of the Ifugao Province, some 42 communal irrigation systems in the four World Heritage sites composing the property were restored or maintained;

g) The Provincial Government of Ifugao has stated that it presently cannot afford to establish storage facilities for a seed bank;

h) The Ifugao Division of the Department of Education conducted a 2-day workshop in November 2007 with school administrators and teachers to develop strategies for integrating indigenous knowledge within courses in secondary and elementary schools. Moreover, the 2nd Hudhud Festival for the promotion of Intangible Heritage was conducted in December 2007 with participation from 17 schools;

i) The proposed mini-power project (see below) is said to fall outside the scope of existing national EIA regulations.

There was no specific mention, in the report of the State Party, as to how the actions relate to the implementation of the 2004 conservation and management plan.

 

Proposed twinning programme

Based on the findings of previous monitoring missions, the World Heritage Committee had recommended that the feasibility of a twinning programme of exchange and cooperation be explored between this property and the World Heritage property of the Cinque Terre (Italy), which shares similar features with the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordillera.

With financial support from the UNESCO/Italy Funds-In-trust, the World Heritage Centre organized a mission of an Italian expert to attend the ICOMOS meeting on Preserving Traditional Landscapes which took place at the property from 2 to 10 December 2007. As a result of this initiative, a study tour for the site managers of the Rice Terraces to Cinque Terre (Italy) has been proposed.

 

Proposed Mini-Power project

After being rejected by the local communities of Hungduan and Asipulo, the mini-hydropower plant project, proposed by the Tokyo Electric Power Corporation (TEPCO) in coordination with the Provincial Government, was accepted by the Kiangan municipality. The Ambangal river and its immediate surrounding areas were identified as a suitable site. The area is agricultural land located in the buffer zone.

Despite some concerns from local people about using their ancestral land and whether water levels in summer are adequate, the project is progressing and consultation meetings were scheduled in February to March 2008. Although it is stated that this proposed project falls outside the scope of current EIA regulations, the State Party acknowledges that EIA procedures “for cultural heritage impact assessment of all infrastructure development projects in World Heritage cluster sites will be useful to prevent irreversible damage and exploration of alternatives that would be consistent with maintaining the integrity of the property”. It is not clear how this will be achieved. As the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordillera have not been officially designated as an “environmental critical area”, as recommended by the World Heritage Committee in 2006, an appropriate EIA, including provisions for cultural heritage impact assessment, is not mandatory for all proposed developments.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consider that further details for this project should be submitted, including the benefits to local communities, and that a full EIA should be undertaken, including consideration of alternative locations. 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2008
32 COM 7A.24
Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras (Philippines) (C 722)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-08/32.COM/7A,

2. Recalling Decision 31 COM 7A.25, adopted at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007),

3. Takes note of the progress achieved in implementing the corrective measures identified by the World Heritage Committee in 2006, including by restoring and maintaining 42 communal irrigation systems within the property and by setting up a Project Development Unit to mobilise financial resources;

4. Welcomes the steps undertaken towards the development of a twinning programme of exchange and cooperation between the World Heritage property of the Rice Terraces of the Philippines Cordilleras and the Cinque Terre property (Italy);

5. Urges the State Party to continue its work on the corrective measures adopted at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006), particularly with regard to the implementation of the 2004 conservation and management plan; the development of a resource strategy; of zoning, land-use plans and of a specific plan for the promotion of community based tourism at the property; and the establishment of appropriate control procedures for development projects within the property;

6. Reiterates its requests to the State Party to develop, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, a proposal of 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;

7. Also requests 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;

8. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by            1 February 2009, a report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above recommendations, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009;

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

32 COM 8B.73
Revision of Statements of Signifiance and Statements Outstanding Universal Value - Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras (PHILIPPINES)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Documents WHC-08/32.COM/8B.Add and WHC-08/32.COM/INF.8B1.Add,

2. Adopts the following Statement of Significance for the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras, Philippines:

The Ifugao Rice Terraces epitomize the absolute blending of the physical, socio-cultural, economic, religious, and political environment.  Indeed, it is a living cultural landscape of unparalleled beauty.

The Ifugao Rice Terraces are the priceless contribution of Philippine ancestors to humanity.  Built 2000 years ago and passed on from generation to generation, the Ifugao Rice Terraces represent an enduring illustration of an ancient civilization that surpassed various challenges and setbacks posed by modernization.

Reaching a higher altitude and being built on steeper slopes than many other terraces, the Ifugao complex of stone or mud walls and the careful carving of the natural contours of hills and mountains to make terraced pond fields, coupled with the development of intricate irrigation systems, harvesting water from the forests of the mountain tops, and an elaborate farming system, reflect a mastery of engineering that is appreciated to the present.

The terraces illustrate a persistence of cultural traditions and remarkable continuity and endurance, since archaeological evidence reveals that this technique has been in use in the region for 2000 years virtually unchanged. They offer many lessons for application in similar environments elsewhere.

Maintenance of the living rice terraces reflects a primarily cooperative approach of the whole community which is based on detailed knowledge of the rich diversity of biological resources existing in the Ifugao agro-ecosystem, a finely tuned annual system respecting lunar cycles, zoning and planning, extensive soil conservation, mastery of a most complex pest control regime based on the processing of a variety of herbs, accompanied by religious rituals.

Criterion (iii): The rice terraces are a dramatic testimony to a community's sustainable and primarily communal  system of rice production, based on harvesting water from the forest clad mountain tops and creating stone terraces and ponds, a system that has survived for two millennia.

Criterion (iv): The rice terraces are a memorial to the history and labour of more than a thousand generations of small-scale farmers who, working together as a community, have created a landscape based on a delicate and sustainable use of natural resources.

Criterion (v): The rice terraces are an outstanding example of land-use resulting from a harmonious interaction between people and their environment which has produced a steep terraced landscape of great aesthetic beauty, now vulnerable to social and economic changes.

3. Recommends that assessment for statements of authenticity and integrity / statements of protection and management should be postponed to the 33rd session of the World Heritage Committee (2009) awaiting the adoption of a methodology and an agreed format for Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for inscribed properties.

 

Draft Decision: 32 COM 7A.24

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-08/32.COM/7A,

2. Recalling Decision 31 COM 7A.25, adopted at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007),

3. Takes note of the progress achieved in implementing the corrective measures identified by the World Heritage Committee in 2006, including by restoring and maintaining 42 communal irrigation systems within the property and by setting up a Project Development Unit to mobilise financial resources;

4. Welcomesthe steps undertaken towards the development of a twinning programme of exchange and cooperation between the World Heritage property of the Rice terraces of the Philippines Cordilleras and the Cinque Terre property(Italy);

5. Urges the State Party to continue its work on the corrective measures adopted at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006), particularly with regard to the implementation of the 2004 conservation and management plan; the development of a resource strategy; of zoning, land-use plans and of a specific plan for the promotion of community based tourism at the property; and the establishment of appropriate control procedures for development projects within the property;

6. Reiterates its requests to the State Party to develop, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, a proposal of 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;

7. Also requests 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;

8. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2009, a report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above recommendations, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009;

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

 

Report year: 2008
Philippines
Date of Inscription: 1995
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iii)(iv)(v)
Danger List (dates): 2001-2012
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 32COM (2008)
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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