Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)

Shexian Dryland Stone Terraced System , China


Detailed Information




Site location: Taihang Mountain, southwest of Hebei Province and west of Handan City

Area of GIAHS: 204.35 km2

Topological Characteristics: The elevation of the heritage site is between 350 and 1150 m above the sea level. The landforms of the heritage site are mainly mountains, including high mountains, low mountains and valleys.

Climatic Classification: temperate continental monsoon

Ethnic Groups: Han Primary

Income Sources: Agriculture Summary

Shexian Dryland Stone Terraced System is a rain-fed agricultural system located on the mountains and developed thank to local communities’ adaptation with the harsh environment. The system dates back to the 27th year of Zhiyuan (a reign title of Kublai Khan) of the Yuan Dynasty (1290) and covers a total surface of 204.35 km2, among which stone-ridge terraces cover 27.68 km2. She County is well known for walnut and Chinese prickly ash in China but even other agricultural and forestry products such as millet, corn, soybean and black jujube are cultivated in the terraces. This complex ecosystem provides a rich food variety while playing an important role in soil, water and biodiversity conservation. In fact, in order to reduce soil and water losses guaranteeing as much arable land as possible, the local communities have built up a large number of stone terraces. By taking full advantage of local diversified crops and varieties’ resources, local people have developed farming techniques of “hiding food on the farmland”, storage techniques of “keeping food in the cellar” and survival skills of “saving food from the mouth”, which has effectively guaranteed their food security, livelihood security and social well-being.