DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1011.2012.00668

Chinese Journal of Eco-Agriculture (中国生态农业学报) 2012/20:6 PP.668-673

On the value, conservation and sustainable development of GIAHS pilot sites in China

Traditional agricultural systems and philosophy are the foundation of modern eco-agriculture. They provide a series of cultural and ecological values/services to mankind and are also multifunctional landscapes with huge potentials for recreation and amenity. As the largest developing country with thousands of years of agricultural history, vast territory and over 65% of the people dwelling in the country side, China has diverse traditional agricultural practices and activities. However, many of the traditional agricultural systems are now under severe threat of globalization and inappropriate government interventions. The disappearance of these important agro-heritage systems and their unique agricultural legacy constitutes loss of future opportunities to enjoy the related environmental and cultural benefits. In order to conserve these systems, a program called “Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)” was initiated by Food and Agriculture Organization of United States (FAO) in 2002. The main objective of GIAHS was the dynamic conservation and adaptive management of traditional agricultural systems. There are already four pilot sites in China, including Qingtian Rice-Fish Culture System in Zhejiang Province, Hani Rice Terraces System in Yunnan Province, Wannian Rice Culture System in Jiangxi Province and Traditional Dong’s Rice-Fish-Duck Agro-ecosystem in Guizhou Province. There are also an additional two candidate sites, including the Traditional Pu’er Tea Agro-system in Yunnan Province and Aohan Dryland Farming System in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. This study depicted the full picture of GIAHS sites in China, including basic information, system value, system threats and proposed conservations. Based on the above analysis, future directions of agro-heritage system conservation were proposed. There existed different GIAHS values, including ecological values, economic values, socio-cultural values, scientific demonstration values, etc. Ecological values were very important in agro-heritage systems as ecological mechanisms reduced use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in a sustainable manner. Threats to agro-heritage systems, including decrease in comparative advantage, labor outflow and modern development concepts/technology, were also severe. Based on value and threat analysis, the following proposals were suggested regarding conservation of rice-fish culture: 1) utilization of dynamic conservation methods to improve local farmer livelihoods; 2) enhancement, popularization and building of scientific conser-vation concepts of GIAHS; 3) implementation of conservation planning and formation of sustainable conservation mechanisms; 4) improvement of farmer activities and building multi-participatory mechanisms; and 5) building GIAHS brands at all agro-heritage sites to promote GIAHS products and formation of dynamic conservation mechanisms.

Key words:Agro-cultural heritage, Ecological value, Economic value, Conservation mechanism, Ecological diversity, Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)

ReleaseDate:2014-07-21 16:24:25

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