IFSU spearheads Rice Terraces Assessment
Recognizing the universal value of the Ifugao Rice Terraces (IRT) and its landscapes to the socio-economic, biodiversity and environmental functions to the indigenous peoples of Ifugao for food security, heritage and related enterprise revolving around it, the Ifugao State University (IFSU) through its Research and Development Center for the Ifugao Rice Terraces as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (IRT-GIAHS Center) launched a collaborative assessment of the IRT.
Numbers of studies and reports state that the IRT is being threatened with loss of indigenous flora and fauna, watershed destruction, unregulated land use conversion, reduced farm labour due to massive outmigration, abandonment and shift of economic activities and the loss of interest on culture and rice terracing by the younger generation. These crises placed the IRT in the World’s Heritage Endangered List in 2001.
National and local attempts to address these imposing threats and challenges failed to present the state or assessment of the Ifugao satoyama (landscapes) resulting to unorganized responses/actions by the government, academe, NGOs and international organizations.
The assessment is anchored on the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) Framework by the United Nations akin to the Japan Satoyama Satoumi Assessment. It attempts to collectivize all efforts among institutions and organizations to provide an agreeable and scientific information as basis for political and societal measures anent to the significance of the Ifugao satoyama’ ecosystem services and resiliency for sustainable development.
The project team already started collaborative and partners meetings and workshops for the Nagacadan Rice Terraces Cluster in Kiangan, Ifugao. Other four GIAHS sites will follow.
“Results and findings of the assessment will serve as blueprint of the state of the Ifugao Satoyama that can be utilized perpetually for the next 50 to 100 years as it analyses the current trends and conditions of biodiversity, ecosystem services and human well-being since 50+ years back while proposing plausible scenario responses,” said Eulalie D. Dulnuan, IFSU Director for Research and Development for the IRT-GIAHS Center.
She added that, “The project output will be endorsed to policy and decision makers in the province and municipalities to be adopted in their comprehensive development plans, conservation plans and executive-legislative agenda.”
The assessment is also in congruence with the Vision of IFSU to become a globally recognized University upholding excellence amidst rich cultural heritage who will be the primary organizer in partnership with the Ifugao Satoyama Meister Training Program Alumni Network and Save the Ifugao Rice Terraces Movement. The provincial government of Ifugao and municipal governments of the projects sites will be the major collaborators of the project. If feasible, the project will become an offshoot for the establishment of a Sustainable Development Goals laboratory in the University.
The project will serve as the basis of mandate of the newly established Centre for Research and Development for the Ifugao Rice Terraces as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems at the Ifugao State University. The output and findings will be integrated/used in innovating programs and projects of the said center relative to biodiversity conservation as its function.
The province of Ifugao is the only UNFAO-designated GIAHS site in the Philippines with five rice terraces clusters in Batad and Bangaan in Banaue; Nagacadan in Kiangan; Central Mayoyao in Mayoyao and the whole of Hungduan.
Eulalie D. Dulnuan
Director for Research and Development for the IRT-GIAHS Center
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