Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems

Globally Important
Agricultural Heritage Systems

A Legacy for the Future

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Rome 2011


For millennia communities of farmers, herders, fishers and forest people have developed complex, diverse, and locally adapted agricultural systems. These systems have been managed with time-tested, ingenious combinations of techniques and practices that have usually led to community food security, and the conservation of natural resources and biodiversity. Agricultural heritage systems can still be found throughout the world covering about 5 million hectares, which provide a vital combination of social, cultural, ecological and economical services to humankind. These Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems-GIAHS have resulted not only in outstanding landscapes of aesthetic beauty, maintenance of globally significant agricultural biodiversity, resilient ecosystems and a valuable cultural heritage. Above all, these systems sustainably provide multiple goods and services, food and livelihood security for millions of poor and small farmers.

The existence of numerous GIAHS around the world testifies to the inventiveness and ingenuity of people in their use and management of finite resources, biodiversity, ecosystem dynamics, and ingenious use of physical attributes of the landscape, codified in traditional but evolving knowledge, practices and technologies. Whether recognized or not by the scientific community, these ancestral agricultural systems constitute the foundation for contemporary and future agricultural innovations and technologies. Their cultural, ecological and agricultural diversity is still evident in many parts of the world, maintained as unique systems of agriculture. Through a remarkable process of co-evolution of Humankind and Nature, GIAHS have emerged over centuries of cultural and biological interactions and synergies, representing the accumulated experiences of rural peoples.


- Introduction
- Agricultural Heritage Systems
- Custodians of Our Agricultural Heritage
- A Global Partnership Initiative
- Remarkable characteristics of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)
- Climate Change and Agricultural Heritage Systems
- Heritage for the Future

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- GIAHS pilot systems around the world

Chiloe agriculture system (Chiloe Island, Chile)
Andean agriculture system (The Cuzco-Puno corridor, Peru)
Ifugao Rice Terraces (Philippines)
Rice-Fish culture (Qingtian county, China)
Hani Rice Terraces (Chi na)
Wannian traditional rice culture (China)
Oases of the Maghreb (El Oued, Algeria and Gafsa, Tunisia)
The Maasai pastoral system (Kenya and Tanzania)

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- Rewarding traditional farmers as providers of ecological and cultural services
- Opportunities for promoting dynamic conservation of globally important agricultural heritage systems
- Conclusions and Way Forward for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development

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