Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS). Combining agricultural biodiversity, resilient ecosystems, traditional farming practices and cultural identity | Land Portal

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December 2018
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For centuries, farmers, herders, fishers and foresters have developed diverse and locally adapted agricultural systems managed with time tested, ingenious techniques. These practices have resulted in a vital combination of social, cultural, ecological and economic services to humankind. “Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems” (GIAHS) are outstanding landscapes of aesthetic beauty that combine agricultural biodiversity, resilient ecosystems and a valuable cultural heritage. Located in specific sites around the world, they sustainably provide multiple goods and services, food and livelihood security for millions of small-scale farmers. <p></p>Through a remarkable process of coevolution of humankind and nature, such sites have emerged over centuries of cultural and biological interactions and synergies, representing the accumulated experiences of rural people. Unfortunately, these agricultural systems are threatened by many factors including climate change and increased competition for natural resources. They are also dealing with migration due to low economic viability, which has resulted in traditional farming practices being abandoned and endemic species and breeds being lost. In recognition of these global threats to family farming and traditional agricultural systems, 16 years ago FAO launched the GIAHS Programme. Aiming to strike a balance between conservation, sustainable adaptation and socioeconomic development, the GIAHS Programme helps identify ways to mitigate the threats faced from farmers as well as enhance the benefits derived by these systems.<p></p>Through multi-stakeholder support, this approach aims to: provide technical assistance; boost understanding of the value of keeping alive sustainable agricultural knowledge; and promote agricultural products, agro-tourism and other incentive mechanisms and market opportunities.<p></p>There are currently 50 GIAHS-designated sites in 20 countries around the world, with potentially many more to follow.

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