E-Mail Alert

Add your e-mail address to receive forthcoming issues of this journal:

Journal Browser

Journal Browser

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

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (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
Website | E-Mail
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 (11 papers)

View options order results:
result details:
Displaying articles 1-11
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Open AccessArticle Concerns and Opportunities around Cultural Heritage in East Asian Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1235; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041235
Received: 25 December 2017 / Revised: 30 March 2018 / Accepted: 5 April 2018 / Published: 18 April 2018
PDF Full-text (8417 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Fifteen years have passed since Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) project in 2002. In this time, participation from East Asian countries has been increasing rapidly with interest flowing over into several related subjects and disciplines.
[...] Read more.
Fifteen years have passed since Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) project in 2002. In this time, participation from East Asian countries has been increasing rapidly with interest flowing over into several related subjects and disciplines. Culture is one of the selection criteria that has to be satisfied to become a GIAHS site, and equally culture plays an important role in the development of tourism to a destination. However, few scientists or GIAHS members have discussed directly how to apply cultural features in GIAHS. Therefore, the purposes of this paper are firstly to recognize the importance and contribution of culture in GIAHS. Then, through detailing the current forms of cultural management in the GIAHS located in Japan, Korea, and China, we identify some of the key cultural problems and prospects in those sites. Two social surveys conducted in Japan show that culture is a prime motivation for tourist visitation, as well as being a core GIAHS selection criteria. These surveys further highlight that GIAHS needs to incorporate culture more effectively into their management strategies. Detailed descriptions of the three countries analyzed in this paper outline each has to engage with particular cultural management challenges: Japan has a well-arranged list of cultural assets, but is unclear how to move forward with that information and data. Korea has just begun to generate a strategy on how to manage cultural heritage features in GIAHS with the use of approaches such as Agrostories or Gil tourism, in recognition of the gradual changes that are occurring in local identity. China has the longest history of engagement with GIAHS in the East Asia region. However, the utilization of the model here has recognized further issues of change in cultural identity not least through commercialization. This paper therefore identifies, discusses and arranges eight problems and prospects for collaborative research on aspects of cultural management amongst the GIAHS in East Asia. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle The Minabe-Tanabe Ume System: Linkage of Landscape Units by Locals
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1079; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041079
Received: 15 February 2018 / Revised: 26 March 2018 / Accepted: 2 April 2018 / Published: 4 April 2018
PDF Full-text (65389 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper focuses on the Minabe-Tanabe Ume system, which was designated as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) in December of 2015. Because landholdings reflect historical social connections among various landscape units, we quantitatively examined the landscape characteristics of the system by
[...] Read more.
This paper focuses on the Minabe-Tanabe Ume system, which was designated as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) in December of 2015. Because landholdings reflect historical social connections among various landscape units, we quantitatively examined the landscape characteristics of the system by preparing digitized spatial data and performing geographic information system analysis. We also examined the consensus building process among different stakeholders toward GIAHS recognition, as well as the emergent local spatial structure of the stakeholder network through interviews with key stakeholders and participatory monitoring. Our spatial analysis of the landscape generally supported the traditional knowledge of the area as a watershed-based mosaic of coppice forests on ridges, Ume orchards on sloped areas, and villages with rice paddies and dry fields in the plains. Our stakeholder network visualization identified several key persons as important nodes that could connect different types of land use now and may have done so in the past. Moreover, because our GIAHS site has compact agglomerations of watersheds with ranges within a ~30-min drive, most stakeholders, who turned out to have graduated from the same local school, are able to maximize their social capital to reorganize the remaining nodes among different land uses, thereby contributing to the formation of the land-use system and its further promotion through dynamic conservation measures. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle Effective Use and Management of Kunisaki Peninsula Usa GIAHS Long Trail—A Sustainable Tourism Model leading to Regional Development
Sustainability 2018, 10(2), 497; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10020497
Received: 31 December 2017 / Revised: 30 January 2018 / Accepted: 9 February 2018 / Published: 13 February 2018
PDF Full-text (5238 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Despite increasing recognition of the importance of maintaining environmental public goods such as rural landscapes and their ecological systems, it remains challenging to implement a management system where the value of maintaining such public goods is reflected by a means of a support
[...] Read more.
Despite increasing recognition of the importance of maintaining environmental public goods such as rural landscapes and their ecological systems, it remains challenging to implement a management system where the value of maintaining such public goods is reflected by a means of a support payment. We proposed a tourism model for the regional promotion of footpaths as the main axis in the “Agri-culture System” designated as part of the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS). Applying a Contingent Valuation Method, we asked walkers how much they were willing to contribute to various GIAHS-related activities through volunteering in addition to the participation fee for the walk. We hypothesized that the diverse means and activities to support conservation would contribute to sustainable management of GIAHS. The research findings showed that walkers had options to choose which activity to support. For track maintenance, WTCL in volunteering is 4.23 days a year. In the case of walkers who had no options, their Willingness to Contribute in Labor (WTCL) by volunteering is 3.34 days a year. To link the regional resources used for tourism with GIAHS require their effective management and conservation. Thus, it is desirable to formulate a combined approach such as payments by users of the trails and contributions through volunteer activities. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle Greenway Implementation Influence on Agricultural Heritage Sites (AHS): The Case of Liantang Village of Zengcheng District, Guangzhou City, China
Sustainability 2018, 10(2), 434; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10020434
Received: 28 December 2017 / Revised: 26 January 2018 / Accepted: 2 February 2018 / Published: 7 February 2018
PDF Full-text (47385 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
As environment-friendly recreational facilities, greenways can bring ecological, social, and economic benefits to the residents of agricultural heritage sites (AHS). Zengcheng District of Guangzhou City first implemented the recreational greenway in China in 2008. Liantang Village is the tourist center of the Liantang
[...] Read more.
As environment-friendly recreational facilities, greenways can bring ecological, social, and economic benefits to the residents of agricultural heritage sites (AHS). Zengcheng District of Guangzhou City first implemented the recreational greenway in China in 2008. Liantang Village is the tourist center of the Liantang Spring segment of Zeng River Greenway system. This village has always been an important planting region of black olive and lychee from ancient times, with more than 1800 large old trees until today. Taking Liantang as a case, participant observations, in-depth interviews, and questionnaires (n = 140) are performed to collect relevant data. This study explores the economic and sociocultural influences of greenway implementation on AHS. Findings reveal that greenway tourism and agricultural heritage conservation form a mutually beneficial relationship. The greenway implementation successfully prompts the emergence and rapid development of tourism which significantly improves the economy of the heritage area and effectively increases the income of the villagers in AHS. The sources of their income mainly include agritainment businesses, agricultural product sales, tourist-related business wages, land leases, and house rentals. Most villagers greatly improve their quality of life because of the continuous infrastructure improvements. However, the daily lives and production orders of villagers are disturbed to some extent. The villagers have a highly sober cognition of the value of old trees, and their protection consciousness is enhanced. The difference in the source of economic income affects the judgment of the villagers, and three groups of villagers exhibit some cognitive differences with the influence of tourism. Results indicate that multi-dimensional values of agricultural heritage can be achieved, and a mutually beneficial relationship will then be formed between tourism and agricultural heritage conservation as soon as the correct eco-tourism is developed in AHS. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle A Community Livelihood Approach to Agricultural Heritage System Conservation and Tourism Development: Xuanhua Grape Garden Urban Agricultural Heritage Site, Hebei Province of China
Sustainability 2018, 10(2), 361; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10020361
Received: 19 December 2017 / Revised: 23 January 2018 / Accepted: 26 January 2018 / Published: 31 January 2018
PDF Full-text (1393 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The designation, conservation and tourism development of agricultural heritage systems, which are embedded with intricate human–nature relations, could significantly influence community livelihoods. Therefore, a livelihood approach is critical for agricultural heritage conservation and the sustainability of the hosting community. Taking Guanhou Village, Xuanhua
[...] Read more.
The designation, conservation and tourism development of agricultural heritage systems, which are embedded with intricate human–nature relations, could significantly influence community livelihoods. Therefore, a livelihood approach is critical for agricultural heritage conservation and the sustainability of the hosting community. Taking Guanhou Village, Xuanhua Grape Garden Urban Agricultural Heritage Site as an example, this study examines impacts of heritage conservation and tourism on the community livelihood system and its implications for community livelihood sustainability. A sustainable livelihood framework is adopted to guide the analysis. Face-to-face in-depth interviews were conducted with management officials, village leaders and village residents. The research identified the importance of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) designation on raising government support and public awareness on conservation. Tourism emerges as an alternative livelihood to some residents which exerts positive economic influence. However, tourism participation is currently at a low level which restricted the distribution of benefits. The sustainability of local rural livelihood is at risk due to the rapid urbanization, the decline of human resources and the insufficient integration of traditional agriculture with tourism. Practical implications were discussed to enhance local participation and tourism contribution to GIAHS conservation. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle Rice Pricing during Organic Conversion of the Honghe Hani Rice Terrace System in China
Sustainability 2018, 10(1), 183; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10010183
Received: 4 October 2017 / Revised: 30 December 2017 / Accepted: 11 January 2018 / Published: 15 January 2018
PDF Full-text (1327 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In 2002, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization initiated the Globally Important Agriculture Heritage Systems conservation program. Agricultural organic certification, based on traditional environmentally friendly technology, increases farmer income and encourages traditional agricultural heritage. However, during the organic conversion period, farmer income
[...] Read more.
In 2002, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization initiated the Globally Important Agriculture Heritage Systems conservation program. Agricultural organic certification, based on traditional environmentally friendly technology, increases farmer income and encourages traditional agricultural heritage. However, during the organic conversion period, farmer income cannot be guaranteed; this period is also a bottleneck for heritage conservation via organic certification. Based on experiences at the Honghe Hani rice terrace system in Yunnan, China, we calculated and compared inputs and outputs of traditional and modern systems during organic conversion and developed a calculation method for determining opportunity costs of agricultural production. We found that the stability of farmer income during conversion can be guaranteed by setting the protective purchasing price at 6.93 CNY/kg, thereby achieving the goal of dynamic conservation of agricultural heritage systems. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

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; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9101842
Received: 31 August 2017 / Revised: 24 September 2017 / Accepted: 11 October 2017 / Published: 13 October 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (214 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
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; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9101698
Received: 11 August 2017 / Revised: 27 August 2017 / Accepted: 12 September 2017 / Published: 22 September 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1342 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
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
Figures

Figure 1

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; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9071162
Received: 28 April 2017 / Revised: 27 May 2017 / Accepted: 30 June 2017 / Published: 3 July 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1809 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
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
Figures

Figure 1

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; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9020295
Received: 17 November 2016 / Revised: 8 February 2017 / Accepted: 10 February 2017 / Published: 17 February 2017
Cited by 2 | 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
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle Socio-Ecological Adaptation of Agricultural Heritage Systems in Modern China: Three Cases in Qingtian County, Zhejiang Province
Sustainability 2016, 8(12), 1260; https://doi.org/10.3390/su8121260
Received: 18 September 2016 / Revised: 22 November 2016 / Accepted: 29 November 2016 / Published: 2 December 2016
Cited by 3 | 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
Figures

Figure 1

Back to Top