THE famed Ifugao Rice Terraces and the communities that rely on them will soon be provided international support from the Canada-based Manulife Financial Corp. and National Geographic (NatGeo) Society, which have included the famous Cordillera landmarks in a list of 10 heritage sites that must be protected from the impact of climate change.
Under the “Preserving Legacies: A Future for Our Past” initiative, 10 heritage sites, eight of which are also on the World Heritage List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), will be preserved under an international initiative for their protection.
In a joint statement, Manulife and NatGeo said that the initiative would not only help safeguard the sites themselves from climate change, but also help protect the physical and financial wellbeing of the communities that rely on the sites for their livelihood.
The project would see local communities trained in scientific mitigation efforts to combat the effects of climate change.
Through mentoring programs and educational materials, the project hopes to teach communities how to turn scientific knowledge into actionable management plans for the protection of heritage sites.
Using local weather data, climate models can be developed to assess how much flooding, heat, sea level rise and changing seasonality could threaten the communities in different scenarios. This would enable their leaders or site managers to know what climate impacts to anticipate and plan for.
The Ifugao Rice Terraces have five terrace clusters within the province that were included on the World Heritage List in 1995.
UNESCO described the terraces in Batad and Bangaan in Banaue, Hungduan, Kiangan, and in Mayoyao as “a living cultural landscape of unparalleled beauty.”
In 2001, the terraces also landed on the World Heritage Committee’s list of endangered heritage sites. They were removed from the list in 2012 but the government gave assurances that the threatened sections would be repaired.