Sistemas Importantes del Patrimonio Agrícola Mundial (SIPAM)

Learning to conserve traditional agricultural heritage systems all around the world

22 May 2020

The University of Florence supported by the Italian Agency for Cooperation and Development is the first institution to organize a master course to identify and map potential Globally Important Agricultural Heritage (GIAHS) sites all over the world.

The FAO Programme on “Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems” is the scientific reference used by the University to explore the characteristics of the registered landscapes in Italy by using the lens of dynamic conservation and sustainable development for the planning and management of traditional agricultural heritage systems.

The overall aim of the GIAHS Programme is to identify and preserve agricultural systems of global importance that have harnessed agro-biodiversity, traditional knowledge and associated culture with their landscapes. However, the ultimate aim goes further than merely preserving these agricultural heritage systems, but applying the principles of dynamic conservation in order to promote the rural development, with direct and indirect benefits for the community, assuring a sustainable source of livelihood for the farmers, including food security as well as maintaining the ecosystem.

“We are expecting the designated GIAHS sites to implement various activities in a well-coordinated manner to improve agricultural production. These activities based on traditional practices, can develop other income generating opportunities, provide decent jobs for youth and women, increase the welfare of family farmers while maintaining core elements of the sites such as agrobiodiversity, traditional knowledge, cultures and landscapes,” said Yoshihide Endo, Secretary of the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems Programme at FAO.

The master course also aims to promote the awareness among the general public, decision makers and academics, to develop greater attention and sensitivity towards the degradation and the progressive disappearance of traditional agricultural landscapes. Professionals attending the course will be able to support countries to identify, manage and submit applications for sites to be considered as GIAHS sites by the FAO GIAHS programme.

Each year, students from more than 12 countries around the globe enrol for the Agricultural Heritage Systems course at the University of Florence. Through a memorandum of understanding FAO supports the participation of a limited number of students each year. In addition, the GIAHS secretariat supports the students in teaching and technical materials. Each year a member of the GIAHS secretariat will hold interactive lectures for the students to brief them about the current status and challenges of the GIAHS program. During these lectures, the importance of designing a participatory action plan based on a bottom-up approach is emphasized.

“Students will be gifted the vision to comprehend the building layers of an agricultural heritage and its landscape, said Mohammad Amin Emadi, first edition’s graduate from Iran”

Students are actively engaged in researching and finding out more information about their chosen site in their respective countries. One of the main resources to study, is the published reports and designated proposals provided by the GIAHS secretariat on their website. The support and communication between GIAHS secretariat and the students remain even after the Masters’ course including by introduction and linking students with FAO country offices and GIAHS focal points in their respective countries.

More information on the course is available here