Italy and FAO team up to promote agricultural heritage systems in Italy and other European areas

New agreement aims to safeguard, biodiversity, traditional knowledge and landscapes

14 October 2016, Rome - The Italian Ministry for Agricultural Food and Forestry Policies and FAO will work closely together to identify and increase the number of ecosystems that play an important role as repositories of agricultural biodiversity, traditional knowledge, cultural heritage and landscapes.

In a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), was signed today, on the occasion of the World Food Day 2016 by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva and Minister of Agricultural Food and Forestry Policies Maurizio Martina.with the aim of developing joint strategies  to incorporate such ecosystems in rural development policies. Within this framework FAO and Italy will also work to increase recognition and to promote better stewardship of such traditional agricultural systems across member countries.

GIHAS is an important system especially for smallholder farmers as it can contribute to boost livelihoods in rural areas and therefore food security.

Since 2005, sites known as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) have been formally recognised by FAO around the globe.

Such sites are different from conventional heritage sites or protected areas. They represent dynamic, human-managed agricultural ecosystems that reflect not only local ecological conditions but local traditions and culture (learn more).

The parties will also collaborate to develop research activities regarding the role of traditional landscapes and rural practices related to agriculture, forestry, fishery, pasture and rangelands as approaches to dealing with climate change.  This five-year agreement also seeks to identify technological solutions aimed at supporting good practices in GIAHS.

Furthermore the parties envisage to organise a series of conferences, seminars and workshops at the national, regional or global level to foster policy and strategic dialogue and share experiences.

At present, there are 36 GIAHS sites in the world, located in 15 countries in Africa, Latin America, Near East and Asia.

Photo: ©FAO/Alessandra Benedetti
FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva and Italian Minister of Agriculture Maurizio Martina signing the Memorandum of Understanding on GIAHS.