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China’s Nationally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (NIAHS)

Beijing, China, 17 April 2013

Traditional farming systems are often considered ‘backward’, doomed to be phased out during agricultural modernization. Before GIAHS was introduced into China around 2005, agricultural heritage was not valued by national or local governments or the farmers themselves. Although a few Chinese researchers studied aspects of traditional farming practices, policy-makers and farmers ignored their message.

Since 2005, when the Qingtian rice-fish culture system was launched, much progress has been made and there have been many new developments in GIAHS interventions. GIAHS is no longer ‘an unknown’ and has become a ‘rising star’, among world heritage sites in China, increasingly attracting the attention of governments, the public and the media.

Over the last three years, GIAHS has become increasingly popular among decision-makers. China has demonstrated a growing interest and determination to promote and conserve its rich agricultural heritage systems and to become a good example for GIAHS conservation worldwide. This ambition is reflected in the legislation to establish and institutionalize Nationally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (NIAHS).