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GIAHS in China: Overview

DATE:2013-07-02       SOURCE:MOA


Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) is a grand initiative launched in 2002 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) with the support of Global Environment Facility (GEF). The initiative aims to establish a conservation system for GIAHS-associated landscape, biodiversity, knowledge and culture, win the recognition and commitment of protection of international community, and build the foundation for GIAHS sustainable management. It intends to give all regions across the world a better knowledge on the farming tradition and management expertise of local farmers and ethnic groups, make use of the knowledge to cope with contemporary challenges, and boost the sustainable agricultural and rural development.



China is one of the countries giving active responses to the initiative in the first place. With cooperation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), coordination of local governments and support of experts and local people, since 2004 the Ministry of Agriculture of China (MOA) has carried out a series of activities including pilot site selection, recommendation, exploration, conservation and development, as well as expertise extension and research facilitation. Over years, MOA’s efforts have produced significant social, ecological and economic benefits. The work on GIAHS have substantially pushed forward sustainable agricultural development and rural ecological conservation, and identified effective approaches to improve agricultural efficiency, increase farmers’ income, maintain rural stability, and address problems related to agriculture, rural areas and farmers. It has also made remarkable contributions to agricultural heritage conservation and agricultural cooperation at the global level.


Approaches and achievements

MOA has established a dynamic, science-based and muti-participant mechanism for GIAHS conservation, and adopted a guideline featuring “government authorities taking the lead, local communities playing a key part, S&T providing pillar support, enterprises driving the work ahead, and mass media promoting public awareness”. Local authorities of GIAHS sites in China have been encouraged to set up specific agencies and work out plans and management measures to improve the conservation and utilization of agricultural heritage systems. Thanks to the joint efforts of MOA and local authorities, GIAHS in China have successfully maintained their indigenous bio-diversity, distinct farming practices and cultural traditions, and attracted increased agricultural investment with robust agricultural tourism and augmented added-value.  




With the support of MOA, FAO and GEF, the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research of Chinese Academy of Sciences, as well as other competent research organizations have jointly conducted systematic studies in GIAHS sites, formulated the national action framework and the conservation & development plan, and provided guidance for project implementation and substitute industry development.  



Promotion activities for agricultural heritage system conservation and utilization has been conducted nationwide through various media channels, including intensive news coverage in the People’s Daily and Guangming Daily, theme exhibitions in China’s Farmers’ Art Festival and Chinese Farming Culture Expo, featured documentaries co-produced with CCTV-7, and exclusive interviews by BBC, etc.


China at present has 8 GIAHS pilot sites, outnumbering the other countries in the world. To be specific, the 8 enlisted pilot sites include: Qingtian Rice-Fish Culture in Zhejiang, Hani Rice Terraces in Honghe of Yunnan, Wannian Traditional Rice Culture in Jiangxi, Dong’s Rice Fish Duck System in Guizhou, Pu'er Traditional Tea Agrosystem in Yunnan, Aohan Dryland Farming System in Inner Mongolia, the urban agricultural heritage of Xuanhua grape gardens in Hebei and Shaoxing Torreya Grandis cv. Merrillii Community in Zhejiang.

GIAHS Pilot Site 1: Qiantian Rice-Fish Culture, Zhejiang

GIAHS Pilot Site 2: Hani Rice Terraces in Honghe, Yunnan 

GIAHS Pilot Site 3: Wannian Traditional Rice Culture System

GIAHS Pilot Site 4: Dong's Rice Fish Duck System, Guizhou

GIAHS Pilot Site 5: Pu’er Traditional Tea Agrosystem, Yunan

GIAHS Pilot Site 6: Aohan Dryland Farming System, Inner Mongolia

GIAHS Pilot Site 7: Urban Agricultural Heritage of Xuanhua Grape Gardens, Hebei

GIAHS Pilot Site 8: Shaoxing Torreya Grandis cv. Merrillii Community, Zhejiang



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