Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)

Why Dynamic Conservation of Agricultural heritage?

Traditional agriculture systems are still providing food for some two billion people today. They also sustain biodiversity, livelihoods, practical knowledge and culture. This global agricultural heritage needs to be recognized and supported in ways that allow it to continue evolving – and provisioning goods and services for the present and future generations.

Strategy and approach

In order to provide systematic support to the conservation and adaptive management of agricultural heritage systems, the GIAHS Programme promotes intervention strategies at three distinct levels:

  1. At the Global level, it will facilitate international recognition of the concept of GIAHS wherein globally significant agrobiodiversity is harboured, and it will consolidate and disseminate lessons learned and best practices from project activities at the pilot country level.
  2. At the National level in pilot countries, project activities will ensure mainstreaming of the GIAHS concept in national sectoral and inter-sectoral plans and policies.
  3. At the Local/Site level in pilot countries, the project activities will address conservation and adaptive management at the community level.

To halt the rapid degradation of GIAHS, their dynamic nature must be recognized first. Their resilience depends on their ability to adapt to new challenges without losing their biological and cultural wealth and their productive capacity. This requires continuous agro-ecological and social innovation combined with careful transfer of accumulated knowledge and experience across the generations. Trying to conserve GIAHS by freezing them in time would surely lead to their degradation and condemn their communities to poverty.

The GIAHS approach is centred on human management and knowledge systems, including their socio-organisational, economic and cultural features that underpin the conservation and adaptation processes in GIAHS without compromising their resilience, sustainability and integrity.