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RICE TERRACES OF THE PHILIPPINE CORDILLERAS

RICE TERRACES OF THE PHILIPPINE CORDILLERAS
Ifugao, Philippines
INFORMATION

Cascading down the eastern flank of the Cordillera Central mountain range in the heart of Luzon, hundreds of man-made terraces stand testament to the cooperative spirit and ingenuity of a people who settled and thrived in this rugged environment. Facing limited land and soil resources, these early inhabitants developed four terrace complexes during the 16th century for the cultivation of rice. Today, these structures are still heralded as some of the world’s best examples of soil conservation technology. For the indigenous Ifugao peoples who maintained them throughout the centuries, the terraces symbolize the survival of their distinctive cultural legacy.

This majestic cultural landscape was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1995, and in 2001, it was placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger due to physical deterioration and loss of the site’s cultural underpinnings. The terraces continue to face decreasing use and are now threatened by wide-scale abandonment. The rice terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras underscore the challenge of conserving a once-dynamic environment that has lost both its primary function for agricultural productivity and the people who have traditionally maintained it as they leave the region to pursue other employment opportunities. These situations require innovative approaches to preserve the community as well as the historic landscape and related man-made structures.

UPDATE

In January 2010, the non-profit sustainable energy consortium, e8, donated a $1m hydro plant to support preservation of the rice terraces. The plant will generate electricity for the region as well as $70,000/year in conservation funding. July 2010