The Ifugao rice terraces, ne of the most iconic landscapes of the Philippines is again in danger of deterioration.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site covers about 1,600 hectares in the region of Banaue. Town Mayor, Jerry Dalipog says that 332 hectares of the terraces are damaged or in decline due to an infestation of earthworms.
Other factors are also causing problems to, including a harsh dry spell that has caused irrigation problems.
The terraces were partially restored in a 20-million peso aid package from the Philippine Department of Agriculture in 2012. “We only have limited funds, so instead of paying for (tourism) promotion, we’re using the funds for restoration,” Mayor Dalipog said.
Local government said it would spend one million pesos of the 14 million it has for development funds to spend on rehabilitation efforts in the area.
The town is also making efforts to include money to restore what is known to the locals as ‘chawa’, a traditional practice where landowners and farmers share farm tending and crops.
So far local authorities say they have restored two hectares of the terrace in Batad region with continuing efforts throughout this year.
In all, the Batad region is not only responsible for the terraces, but also for the maintenance of a communal forest. Currently the forest is planted in a 150 hectare plot with hardwood tress and 50 hectares of fruit-bearing trees.
The mayor also said that efforts to restore the terraces was not purely tourism-related. There were also environmental, agricultural and cultural reasons too.