Category: Ifugao.

Ifugao rice terraces still in danger

By DEXTER A. SEE

LAGAWE, Ifugao, Philippines — The scenic and historic Ifugao rice terraces which were previously identified as one of the world famous heritage sites are still in the list of heritage sites that are still in danger despite relentless efforts among stakeholders to sustain its preservation and protection.

This developed as a joint reactive mission from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is now in the province to conduct on-site inspection on the five rice terraces clusters that were inscribed in the list of endangered heritage sites to ascertain the necessity of its being delisted from the aforemetioned prestigious list.

The UNESCO officials will continuously dialogue with Ifugao provincial and municipal officials as well as rice terraces stakeholders and farmers to formulate the needed plans to sustain the inclusion of the rice terraces in the list of world heritage sites worthy of visiting.

The monitoring mission which will be in the province for the next ten days is composed of representatives from the World Heritage Center (WHC), the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the International Union for Conservation and Nature among others.

The five rice terraces sites which will be visited by the UN mission includes Batad and Bangan in Banaue town, Mayoyao Central in Mayoyao; Nagacdan in Kaingan, the terraces clusters in Hungduan and other neighbouring rice terraces sites which are now threatened by informal settlers thereby destroying the view of the tourists on the scenic man-made stairway-like rice paddies.

Among the identified threats to the existence of the rice terraces within the world heritage sites are lack of government support to the special bodies created to maintain and conserve the rice terraces; abandonment of the rice terraces by the farmers due to low yields and backbreaking labor to raise the crop; erosion of the heritage landscape due to irregular development, especially those introduced by informal settlers and little progress in significantly addressing the needs of tourism in the province.

The UNESCO mission will conduct a post-meeting and workshop at the Banaue Hotel in the province in order to submit their findings and recommendations to the local officials on how to continue preserving and protecting the world heritage sites to prevent it from eventually being delisted that could be detrimental in the vibrant tourism industry of Ifugao.

The famous stairway-like rice paddies carved on the mountain sides serve as a living testament to the ingenuity of the ifugao ancestors who were said to have built the scenic rice terraces over 2,000 years ago and are now being passed on from generation to generation but the advancement of information and communication technology aggravated by the low yield of the terraces is keeping the young Ifugaos away in pursuing the development of their historic rice paddies.

Ifugao is said to be one of the preferred destination of nature lovers because of the scenic views of the rice terraces even from a distance.

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Category: Ifugao