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30 June 2011

Sado and Noto designated as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)

Luohui Liang, UNU-ISP
Akira Nagata, UNU-ISP

On 11 June 2011, at the International Forum on Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems held in Beijing, two farming systems, one each in the Sado, Niigata Prefecture (Sado’s Satoyama with Ibis) and in the Noto, Ishikawa Prefecture (Noto’s Satoyama and Satoumi) were officially designated as the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS).

Satoyama Satoumi of Noto. Photo: Anne McDonald/UNU-IAS OUIK

The Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS), initiated by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2002, is designed to safeguard and support ecologically valuable traditional farming system and agricultural practices in danger of dying out. GIAHS designated system make use of the local environment and rely on environmentally friendly land utilization systems to conserve biodiversity and the landscape. The United Nations University Institute for Sustainability and Peace (UNU-ISP) has long been involved in research of agro-diversity in many regions around the world. The UNU-ISP developed the data and knowledge garnered from this research in its activities to support the promotion of the GIAHS initiative, including the documentation of relevant GIAHS sites. So far, eight farming systems, including the “Rice-Fish Agriculture” in China, the “Ifugao Rice Terraces” in the Philippines, and “Andean Agriculture” of Peru, have been designated as pilot sites of GIAHS.

Alongside this context, 2010 was also the International Year of Biodiversity and the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP10) was held in Nagoya. Such contributions by Japan to conserve biodiversity and efforts to promote international coordination led to heightened opportunities to realise the recognition of the Satoyama as GIAHS. Thereupon, the UNU-ISP began to take steps to recommend the two sites in Sado and Noto as GIAHS candidate, working with United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies, the Ishikawa Kanazawa Operating Unit, and the Hokuriku Regional Agricultural Administration Officeof the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to secure support in the Hokuriku Region to apply for GIAHS recognition of both sites.

At the memorial event. From left: Parviz Koohafkan, Coordinator, GIAHS, FAO; Tanimoto Masanori, Governor of Ishikawa Prefecture; Bunpei Takemoto, Mayor of City of Nanao; Kazuhiko Takeuchi Vice-Rector, United Nations University. Photo: Shimako Takahashi, UNU-ISP

The official ceremony and memorial event were held on 16 June 2011 in Sado and 17 June 2011 in Wajima, Noto. On the subject of the official ceremony, Professor Kazuhiko Takeuchi, Vice-Rector of UNU, stated, “The key to land reconstruction and regeneration lies in agriculture, forestry and fisheries. I hope this GIAHS recognition will be applied to the promotion of local tourism and branding of agricultural products, as well as the development of Satoyama values through exchanging with GIAHS sites overseas.”