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Special Issue "Promoting the Sustainability of Agricultural Heritage Systems through Dynamic Conservation"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2017

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Qingwen Min

Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 100101 Beijing, China
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Interests: agricultural heritage systems, ecological agriculture, ecosystem services, multi-functionality of agriculture
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Koji Nakamura

Kanazawa University, Kanazawa 920-1192, Japan
Website | E-Mail
Interests: ecology; satoyama satoumi; human capacity building; agricultural heritage systems
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Won-Keun Yoon

Department of Regional Development, Hyupsung University, Hwaseong 18330, Korea
Website | E-Mail
Interests: agricultural heritage systems; rural development policy; rural development planning

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,
A more than 10,000-year-long history of agricultural development has provided human beings with fruitful and ingenious traditional knowledge and experiences that reflect the evolution of humanity and nature. To prevent these precious treasures from being lost to modernity, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations started a global partnership initiative on the conservation and management of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) in 2002. By the end of 2015, there are 36 traditional agricultural systems designated as GIAHS by the FAO in the world, among which 21 are located in East Asia (11 in China, 8 in Japan and 2 in Korea) accounting for more than half the total allotment.
Defined by the FAO, GIAHS are “remarkable land use systems and landscapes which are rich in globally significant biological biodiversity evolving from the co-adaptation of a community with its environment and its needs and aspirations for sustainable development”. Unlike most conventional heritages, the complexity of GIAHS in a living state has made their conservation a complex, systematic “engineering” in which both physical and biological components and associated socio–cultural processes must be conserved in a dynamic way. That means farmers and heritage sites must benefit from the continuance of traditional agricultural production under the premise of ecological functions being sustained and traditional culture being inherited.
To strengthen regional collaboration in the dynamic conservation of agricultural heritage systems, the East Asia Research Association for Agricultural Heritage Systems (ERAHS) was established in 2013. As agreed, China, Japan and Korea take turns to organize the annual conference. The 1st ERAHS conference was then held in Xinghua City, China in 2014, the 2nd was in Sado City, Japan in 2015 while the 3rd was in Geumsan County, Korea in 2016. Under the joint efforts of the three countries, ERAHS has contributed to the development of the FAO-GIAHS initiative in East Asia by means of scientific research support, information and experience sharing, and best practices dissemination.
This Special Issue will feature papers from the participants of the 4th ERAHS conference on “Promoting the Conservation of Agricultural Heritage Systems through Industrial Convergence”, to be held in Huzhou City, China, in 11-14 July, 2017. The conference and the Special Issue aim to provide a forum for international/national scholars, researchers, policy makers, and administrators to share their research findings and knowledge as well as practical experiences related to the dynamic conservation of agricultural heritage systems. We are also open to submissions from outside the conference that address the relevant topics in general.
The range of relevant topics include:

  • incentives for the conservation of agrobiodiversity and ecosystem services
  • certification, labeling and branding schemes to promote local economy
  • sustainable planning and management of tourism
  • innovative mechanisms for the inheritance of traditional culture
  • monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of dynamic conservation

We also welcome papers from broadly defined topics that are relevant to the theme of this Special Issue.

Prof. Dr. Qingwen Min
Prof. Dr. Koji Nakamura
Prof. Dr. Won-Keun Yoon
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • agricultural heritage systems
  • dynamic conservation
  • agrobiodiversity conservation
  • payment for ecosystem services
  • green economy
  • sustainable tourism
  • rural development
  • traditional ecological knowledge
  • human capacity building
  • monitoring and evaluation

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle The Influences of Production Factors with Profit on Agricultural Heritage Systems: A Case Study of the Rice-Fish System
Sustainability 2017, 9(10), 1842; doi:10.3390/su9101842
Received: 31 August 2017 / Revised: 24 September 2017 / Accepted: 11 October 2017 / Published: 13 October 2017
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Abstract
With the mobility and off-farm employment of rural villagers, agricultural production has been influenced by the absence of labor force in the past few years. In particular, the inadequate assignment of resources has threatened the sustainability of some Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems
[...] Read more.
With the mobility and off-farm employment of rural villagers, agricultural production has been influenced by the absence of labor force in the past few years. In particular, the inadequate assignment of resources has threatened the sustainability of some Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems due to their low profit. In this paper, the influences of labor force and capital on agricultural heritage systems are analyzed, taking the Qingtian Rice-Fish Culture System (QRFCS) as an example, so as to maximize profit along with the sustainability of agricultural heritage. The Cobb-Douglas Production Function is applied to examine the impacts of these major factors on agricultural productivity based on a survey held among 32 households in Longxian Village, Qingtian County, China. Subsequently, the profit maximization problem can be solved by a marginal rate of technical substitution under production standard. We come to the conclusion that the output elasticity coefficients of labor and capital are 0.6 and 0.4. Our results also indicate that the maximum yield of rice and field-fish is 0.84 kg under the level of 9 Yuan RMB and 0.24 man-days per square meter. The net profit can hit 24.8 Yuan RMB regardless of human resource cost. In contrast, the demand of 218,800 m2 paddy fields exceeds the human resources available for the Rice-Fish system in QRFCS, thereby it is necessary to promote the refluence of skilled farmers. Full article
Open AccessArticle Reviewing the Progress in the Identification, Conservation and Management of China-Nationally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (China-NIAHS)
Sustainability 2017, 9(10), 1698; doi:10.3390/su9101698
Received: 11 August 2017 / Revised: 27 August 2017 / Accepted: 12 September 2017 / Published: 22 September 2017
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Abstract
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations launched a global partnership initiative for the conservation and adaptive management of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) in 2002. China is one of the first countries that responded to the GIAHS initiative, witnessed by
[...] Read more.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations launched a global partnership initiative for the conservation and adaptive management of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) in 2002. China is one of the first countries that responded to the GIAHS initiative, witnessed by the designation of Qingtian Rice-Fish Culture by FAO in June 2005. It is also the first country that identifies and conserves agricultural heritage systems at the national level, demonstrated by the initiation of China-Nationally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (China-NIAHS) by Chinese Ministry of Agriculture in March 2012. In the past five years, progress on the identification, conservation and management of China-NIAHS has been widely achieved in China; however, challenges such as lack of adequate mastery of potential agricultural heritage systems, lack of local popularization of their concept and connotations, and lack of endogenous motives for their conservation and development are also in front of China. This paper reviewed the progress and discussed the challenges, aiming to help formulate suggestions for the future conservation and management of agricultural heritage systems and also to provide an opportunity for other countries to understand the nation’s efforts on the conservation and management of agricultural heritage systems. Full article
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Open AccessArticle An Analysis on Crops Choice and Its Driving Factors in Agricultural Heritage Systems—A Case of Honghe Hani Rice Terraces System
Sustainability 2017, 9(7), 1162; doi:10.3390/su9071162
Received: 28 April 2017 / Revised: 27 May 2017 / Accepted: 30 June 2017 / Published: 3 July 2017
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Abstract
The Honghe Hani Rice Terraces System (HHRTS) is one of the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) sites approved by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2010. In recent years, with the development of modern agriculture and tourism, cultivation practices for high yield
[...] Read more.
The Honghe Hani Rice Terraces System (HHRTS) is one of the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) sites approved by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2010. In recent years, with the development of modern agriculture and tourism, cultivation practices for high yield and uniform variety cropping, has threatened the stability of the system of forest-village-paddy-rivers in the Hani terraces. From the viewpoint of farming behavior, we carried out our surveys to learn about the local rural households’ planting situations and the factors that influence their planting choices. A Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) was used for gaining information in Yuanyang County, Yunnan Province. Seemingly Unrelated Regression (SUR) were used to test the theoretical result at the individual rural household level. Then, this paper summarized the status quo of crop cultivation structures and analyzed their driving factors in HHRTS. The results showed as follows: ① In the 41.23 hm2 available farmland referred in survey, the crops grown, ordered by total cultivated area, are hybrid rice, corn, and fruit, which rank as the top three for all crops. As the regional traditional crop, the cultivated area of red rice is only 12.04% of total available farmland referred to in the survey. ② According to the actual plantation, the rural household is divided into two categories and marked as “the red-rice-plantation-oriented household (RR household)” and “the hybrid-rice-plantation-oriented household (HR household)”. The result of the SUR model showed that the driving factors to plant hybrid rice and red rice varied greatly with different categories of the rural household. ③ Consistent with the results of correlation analyses and factor analyses, significant driving factors of red rice planting included the ethnicity of the household, the average altitude of the farmland, and the labor productivity of red rice. Significant restraint factors included the total number of family members and the yield of red rice per unit area. Thereupon, in order to realize the dynamic protection of HHRTS, we established an encouragement mechanism for improving the proportion of red rice plantings in relation to aspects of the rural household, the community, and the local government. Full article
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Open AccessArticle A Conservation Approach of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS): Improving Traditional Agricultural Patterns and Promoting Scale-Production
Sustainability 2017, 9(2), 295; doi:10.3390/su9020295
Received: 17 November 2016 / Revised: 8 February 2017 / Accepted: 10 February 2017 / Published: 17 February 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (803 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Heritage conservation is an important recurring research theme on agricultural heritage systems. Improving the income of farmers from agriculture is regarded as an effective conservation approach. This study examined how the improved rice-fish-duck coculture (IRFDC) promotes the protection of the Honghe Hani Rice
[...] Read more.
Heritage conservation is an important recurring research theme on agricultural heritage systems. Improving the income of farmers from agriculture is regarded as an effective conservation approach. This study examined how the improved rice-fish-duck coculture (IRFDC) promotes the protection of the Honghe Hani Rice Terraced System (HHRTS) by keeping farmers farming in their hometowns. A semi-structural interview and a questionnaire survey were used to collect data on agricultural input–outputs and household employment in HHRTS. As a result, a fairly large proportion of HHRTS rice terraces were used for the hybrid rice monoculture (HRM) with chemical inputs, and most of these rice terraces were wasted for half a year on account of being left unused; the IRFDC requires considerable time input for farming and breeding, but barely needs any chemical inputs. IRFDC entails a higher cost than HRM, but also has a higher return than HRM. Driving a family to do full-time farming requires extra more than 0.71 ha rice terraces for IRFDC. In conclusion, Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHSs) can be used for protecting terraces from abandonment and destruction by improving agricultural economic benefits for farmers. At present, a shortage of laborers in HHRTS sites is false. Agricultural heritage sites do not actual need so many people if peasant households can do large-scale farming. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Socio-Ecological Adaptation of Agricultural Heritage Systems in Modern China: Three Cases in Qingtian County, Zhejiang Province
Sustainability 2016, 8(12), 1260; doi:10.3390/su8121260
Received: 18 September 2016 / Revised: 22 November 2016 / Accepted: 29 November 2016 / Published: 2 December 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (4110 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper, on rural restructuring in China, focuses on the ability of agricultural heritage systems to adapt to modernizing conditions in the rural economy. Since 2002, when FAO initiated the protection of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS), the value of agricultural heritage
[...] Read more.
This paper, on rural restructuring in China, focuses on the ability of agricultural heritage systems to adapt to modernizing conditions in the rural economy. Since 2002, when FAO initiated the protection of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS), the value of agricultural heritage has been widely acknowledged, as has the importance and urgency to protect the systems in which they are embedded. However, such complex systems have not been fully assessed for their contribution to food security, ecosystem services and cultural preservation, as well as their ability to adapt to the demands of modernization. In fact, they have not been effectively evaluated as whole systems, largely because we have not yet devised satisfactory ways of studying complex systems, nor have we been able to assess them fully for their multi-faceted contributions to sustainability. This paper accepts the premise that such systems are sustainable in that they have survived as agro-ecosystems for many hundreds of years, having endured the predations of droughts, famines, plagues, floods and wars. This ability to sustain a rich diversity of biological and human systems is considered, in the theory of Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS), to be a form of resilience, meaning that these systems have either formed a new normal or returned to the old normal after a period of environmental or social stress. In effect, ancient agricultural heritage systems can be seen to represent what has been traditional and normal in China, but which today are faced with the overwhelming forces of modernization. Taking three examples from Qingtian County in Southern China, where physical and political conditions are consistent, the paper shows how similar rice-fish systems adapt differently and sustain themselves in the face of modernization, and particularly to the loss of youth and labor to urbanisation. One system self-adjusts by using remittances from abroad to sustain the system: an example of self-organization. In another township, the pursuit of tourism is the main form of adaptation to large losses of working population and marginal incomes. To maintain the landscape as a key attraction for tourists, this community has re-assembled abandoned rice terraces and is farming them as a collective enterprise under the auspices of a co-operative: an example of land and labor restructuring that has become common as the dominant form of agrarian change in China. In a third example, the local rice-fish system is being strengthened by modern farming technology and scientific techniques: an example of technological adaptation. The discussion explores the three responses as evidence of sustainable practice involving local restructuring, continued ingenuity, and the creative support of local governments in the face of the homogenizing demands of modernization. Full article
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