The UN office in Manila said last Wednesday the Philippines’ ancient rice terraces, carved into mountains like giant green stairs, have been removed from a UN list of endangered world heritage sites.
Philippine government’s request to rally local and international aid, and for better management of their preservation for the 2,000-year-old living cultural monuments were put on the World Heritage Committee’s danger list in 2000.
The UN information office said in a statement “Both actions were successfully undertaken, leading to the conservation of the remote high rice fields”.
It had extended $153,200 to aid Philippine efforts to save paddies it said were endangered by deforestation, disuse, climate change and earthquakes said by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The terraces was located in the five towns in the northern Cordilleras, were entitled as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1995, mentioning the need to preserve the traditions of terrace-building peoples in Ifugao province.
UN-assisted conservation efforts should drive tourist traffic to the sites by up to 30 percent said by Jerry Dalipog, the mayor of Banaue town, where two of the five terraced fields are located.
He told AFP in a telephone interview that “Once the tourists are convinced that there are still terraces left to see, more of them will come and visit us”.
He also said that the Banaue is set to complete by year’s end a four-month project to repair amphitheater-shaped rice terraces in the village of Batad, one of the most famous sites that had been disfigured last year by a huge landslide.
Dalipog added about the repair works, estimated to cost 50 million pesos ($1.18 million), are being financed by the government and private donors.
“Expression of sacred traditions and a delicate social balance,” which have helped create “a landscape of great beauty that expresses the harmony between humankind and the environment UNESCO defines the terraces.”