Worldwide, specific agricultural systems and landscapes have been created, shaped and maintained by generations of farmers and herders based on diverse natural resources, using locally adapted management practices. Building on local knowledge and experience, these ingenious agri-cultural systems reflect the evolution of humankind, the diversity of its knowledge, and its profound relationship with nature. These systems have resulted not only in outstanding landscapes, maintenance and adaptation of globally significant agricultural biodiversity, indigenous knowledge systems and resilient ecosystems, but, above all, in the sustained provision of multiple goods and services, food and livelihood security for millions of poor and small farmers.
In order to safeguard and support the world’s agri-cultural heritage systems, in 2002 FAO started an initiative for the dynamic conservation of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage systems (GIAHS). The GIAHS Initiative promotes public understanding, awareness, national and international recognition of Agricultural Heritage systems. Looking to safeguard the social, cultural, economic and environmental goods and services these provide to family farmers, smallholders, indigenous peoples and local communities, the initiative fosters an integrated approach combining sustainable agriculture and rural development.
The GIAHS initiative has project interventions in Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Chile, China, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic), Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Tunisia, and Turkey. In these countries, adaptive management approaches will be developed and implemented, to assist national and local stakeholders in the dynamic conservation of their agricultural heritage systems.