Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)

Damyang Bamboo Field Agriculture System, Republic of Korea

GIAHS since 2020

Global importance

Linked to a strong cultural identity, Bamboo farmers have systemized their traditional management know-how by establishing traditional environment knowledge for optimum temperature, rainfall, wind direction, soil type and depth. This system relies on a bamboo-based multilayered organization of the production where bamboos are inter-cropped with tea trees and mushrooms.

Thanks to the integration of the landscape and the multilayered cultivation system, Damyang farmers have been able to ensure food and livelihood security obtaining numbers of materials to address their needs. Based on traditional agroecological practices, the whole site is an impressive example of sustainable management of agriculture linking nature and culture respecting the environment.

Food and livelihood security

The multi-level Structure of Damyang Bamboo fields allow the farmers to earn good income from harvesting bamboo shoots but also from Jukro tea (or special green tea), medicinal plants as broadleaf Liriope and wolfberries (goji berries), and special purpose crops including mushrooms, all of which can be cultivated together with bamboo. In addition, bamboo crafts have long served as the primary means for the security of the farmers’ livelihood.

Combined agriculture operated through suburban farming has become a notable phenomenon. Thus, the main agricultural products harvested from Damyang County are rice, strawberries, cabbage and pears in the level areas. Lastly, in addition to traditional methods to maintain food security and livelihood, various products and industries applying modern technologies have been developed. Bamboo has also become an interior design material, in addition to serving as a key element in creating tourism products.


Damyang bamboo field's agricultural system brings about agricultural biodiversity. In the Damyang region, a variety of agricultural activities have been employed including rice paddy farming and cultivation of vegetables and fruits as well as bamboo farming, meaning multilayered security for food and livelihood were established. Bamboo trees grown in Damyang are selected and cultivated according to the needs of each farmer, and of course they are genetically different. The genetic diversity of Damyang bamboo results from the fact that different bamboo species including som-dae, wang-dae, maeng-jong-juk and sin-i-dae varieties were selected according to different economic needs.

The main fruits and vegetables harvested are strawberries, melons, watermelons, and tomatoes. In addition, spinach, lettuce, radishes, carrots, peppers, green onions, garlic, ginger, and onions are harvested. Additionally, orchard crops are cultivated such as apples, pears, peaches, etc. Lastly, being highly sustainable, Damyang bamboo system is an exceptional habitat for wild flora and fauna providing important eco system services.

Local and adapted knowledge

Damyang Bamboo fields are based on an integrated landscape relying on a systemic water management linking all the agricultural activities. Indeed, bamboo groves in Damyang usually formed at the lower mountainous areas such as on the hilly areas in a valley, which provides natural waterways around the fields. Bamboo plantations in wet places contain water at normal times will get water during dry times from ponds formed around the lower part of the fields. Thus, water resources can be secured for other crops by managing waterways connecting waterways within bamboo fields and ponds and channels around the fields. Some waterways passing through residential areas to farmland may be rerouted through paddies or other fields.

Regarding the cropping activities, bamboo cultivation requires a refine knowledge for the following steps: identifying Optimal Places for Bamboo Fields, establishing a Bamboo Plantation, time for Planting Bamboo Trees, Selective Management of Fertilization, Thinning Out and Lumbering, Management of Bamboo Fields and Harvest. In addition, a special attention is given to the health of the soils through the supply of humus.

Cultures, value systems and social organizations

As such, bamboo fields in Damyang, with at least a 500-year or up to a 1,000-year history, have grown and developed, becoming one of the three main industries of Damyang along with rice and barley. Thus, Bamboo cultivation is intimately linked to the culture of the local communities. For instance, Jukchwi-il is described as a festivity observed from the Goryeo Dynasty in Sesi-pung-yo (traditional seasonal customs or festivities) and through village rituals, folk religion and labor songs such as Hwang-geum-deul-norae. For the First Full Moon Festival on January 15th of the lunar calendar, bamboo poles were set up at the village entrance with wind strings hanging on them to drive away bad luck for the village. At night, fire was set on piles of branches, called daljip-teugi, wishing for the best for a new year.

Regarding the social organizations, in order to sustain the labor-intensive farming, each village in Damyang formed dure (farmers’ cooperative groups) or hyangyak (a village code that allowed for a degree of local autonomy) to work together in the bamboo plantations and other fields and paddies. Each village devoted itself to producing different kinds of bamboo crafts. During the agricultural off-season, residents made extra money through a division of labor: some houses for cutting and splitting bamboos, other houses for weaving, still others for bamboo pyrography.

Landscape features

Damyang bamboo fields surrounding farm villages have an influence on everyday life as well as economic activities in rural villages. This kind of landscape has been shaped through the expansion of the bamboo craft culture into villages across Damyang. These fields are not about size but about the harmonization among several factors. The distant view of bamboo fields which seem to be embracing both village and farmland is the unique and harmonious landscape that connects Damyang and bamboo.

Regarding its functions, bamboo fields set up at the foot of a mountain and mounds near the settlement areas of residents protect rural villages from the heat and cold by regulating the climate. Indeed, thanks to their planting density, bamboo fields form a colony protecting the villages from cold winds of winter and the sweltering heat of summer. In addition, a tangle of rootstocks of bamboos prevents the loss of soil from heavy rains or floods, fending off disasters. Also dense fields of bamboos served as deterrent to external invasion. Thus, the Damyang Bamboo cultivation plays an important role in preserving the landscape from soil erosion and violent temperature variations.