Combining traditional wisdom and science, safeguarding the legacy of the past for the future.
The World Agricultural Heritage Forum is dedicated to providing policy guidance and technical support to countries and institutions that cherish Globally and Nationally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems* for present and future generations through sustainability science, higher education, research and development aimed to promote safeguarding of these world’s agricultural heritage sites and systems.
*Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) are defined as “Remarkable land use systems and landscapes which are rich in globally significant biological diversity evolving from the co-adaptation of a community with its environment and its needs and aspirations for sustainable development.” (fao.org)
Promote sustainable agriculture and rural development through policy and technical assistance, networking, research, training and education for safeguarding and dynamic conservation of the world’s agricultural heritage systems and sites.
Support efforts to identify, recognize and safeguard “Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems” around the world.
Implement a science-based, agroecological and dynamic conservation methodological framework for agricultural heritage systems and sites.
Legacy from the past,
Passport for the future!
Agricultural Heritage Systems and Sites feature distinctive characteristics of great importance and benefits to local, national, and global economy.
Contribution to food and livelihood security of smallholder farmers and indigenous communities
A growing body of scientific evidence demonstrates that indigenous and traditional agricultural systems feature a high degree of biodiversity and genetic resources for food and agriculture. GIAHS systems often reflect rich and globally unique agricultural biodiversity, within and between species but also at ecosystem and landscape level. The richness of biodiversity in any form can only be effectively maintained, adapted and conserved with the human management systems that have created it, including indigenous knowledge systems and technologies, specific forms of social organization, customary or formal law and other cultural practices.
GIAHS contain a set of practices, knowledge, institutions, technologies, skills, traditions, beliefs and values proper to a farming community. The traditional and indigenous knowledge systems employed in GIAHS are foundation and basis of managing the agro-ecosystem. As such, agricultural system evolved, co-evolved with the human communities, handed down from one generation onto another, refined and continuously fine-tuned, primarily as a response to the specific natural environment change where they need to gain their livelihood, minimizing their risks and reducing their vulnerability to uncertain conditions.
GIAHS are agricultural legacies that not only represent important agro-ecosystems, landscapes or landmarks of historical value but also living and evolving ethnic groups, indigenous communities, family farming communities along with their institutions and ecological and cultural heritage. What sets apart the agricultural heritage systems from the UNESCO world heritage sites which are based on “outstanding universal value”, is that GIAHS are not static or frozen in time or space. They represent living, dynamic, socio-economic, cultural and institutional mosaic of how humans have adapted over centuries to the demands of dramatic advances in human civilization, while preserving and conserving to this day a rich heritage of customs, rituals, dances, songs, livelihood patterns and rural landscapes.
GIAHS have evolved over time specific and highly adapted forms of social organization through which the ecosystems and landscapes management takes place, and cultural identity is preserved. These agricultural systems have resulted in outstanding landscapes with remarkable aesthetic values. The Ifugao Rice Terraces of the Philippines is one example of GIAHS and a World Heritage Site. This system is an epitome of an agricultural legacy dated from more than 2000 years ago. The spectacular rice terraces’ landscapes allows protection and conservation of significant and important agricultural biodiversity and associated biodiversity, features marvelous engineering systems and innovativeness, promotes tourism, as well as expressing the conquered and conserved harmony between humankind and the environment. The system is also called the “Living Cultural Heritage.”