Orginal Article

Responding to common questions on the conservation of agricultural heritage systems in China

  • MIN Qingwen , 1 ,
  • ZHANG Yongxun 1, 2 ,
  • *JIAO Wenjun , 1 ,
  • SUN Xueping 1, 2
  • 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • 2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China

Author: Min Qingwen (1963-), Professor, specialized in agricultural heritage systems conservation and regional sustainable development. E-mail:

*Corresponding author: Jiao Wenjun (1983-), Assistant Professor, E-mail:

Received date: 2016-03-21

  Accepted date: 2016-04-05

  Online published: 2016-07-25

Supported by

Youth Talent Supporting Project of China Association for Science and Technology, No.2016010103

International Exchange and Cooperation Project of Ministry of Agriculture “Conservation of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) in China in 2016”

Scientific Research Foundation for Youth Scholars of Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences


Journal of Geographical Sciences, All Rights Reserved


Although the urgency of their conservation has been recognized, Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) designated by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) since 2002 and China Nationally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (China- NIAHS) certified by the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) of China since 2012 are faced with questions as to why to conserve them, what is to be conserved, who should conserve them, and how? This paper attempts to clarify and respond to such questions focusing on the conservation of agricultural heritage systems in China based on a review of both theoretical and practical progress. Agricultural heritage systems exhibit a multitude of values for sustainable and equitable development and therefore should be conserved for both present and future generations. Unlike most conventional heritages, the conservation of agricultural heritage systems is a complex, systematic “engineering” in which both physical and biological components and associated socio-cultural processes should be conserved in a dynamic way. 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. For a more effective conservation, a multi- stakeholder process should be established involving governments at different levels, multi-disciplinary scientists, communities and farmers, and business enterprises as well as social organizations. As has been demonstrated, the conservation of agricultural heritage systems aims to promote the regional sustainable development, to improve the livelihood, food security and well-being of farm people, and to provide references for the development of modern agriculture in China.

Cite this article

MIN Qingwen , ZHANG Yongxun , *JIAO Wenjun , SUN Xueping . Responding to common questions on the conservation of agricultural heritage systems in China[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2016 , 26(7) : 969 -982 . DOI: 10.1007/s11442-016-1310-3

1 Introduction

Agricultural heritage systems refer to those farming systems with heritage values, including the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) designated by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the China Nationally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (China-NIAHS) certified by the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) of China. Compared with conventional heritages like natural, cultural, mixed and intangible cultural heritages launched by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the concept of GIAHS/NIAHS is quite new to the world, but it has been increasingly recognized by the international community in recent years.
In response to the global trends that undermine small-scale family agriculture and traditional agricultural systems, FAO started a global partnership initiative on the conservation and adaptive management of GIAHS during the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 (Koohafkan and dela Cruz, 2011). At that time, five traditional agricultural systems located in six countries were designated as the first pilot systems in 2005. These are Rice-Fish Culture in China, Andean Agriculture in Peru, Chiloe Agriculture in Chile, Ifugao Rice Terraces in the Philippines and the Oases agriculture of the Maghreb in Algeria and Tunisia (Koohafkan, 2009). With support from international organizations like the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNESCO, International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) and the United Nations University (UNU), the GIAHS project was approved by the Council of Global Environment Facility (GEF) in 2008 and was officially started across the world in 2009 (Min et al., 2010). After the 5-year-long implementation phase, progress on the dynamic conservation and adaptive management of GIAHS has been widely achieved and the influence of the GIAHS initiative has been greatly expanded. In June, 2015, the GIAHS initiative was endorsed as a corporate programme at the FAO 39th Session, ushering in a whole new stage for the conservation and management of GIAHS globally.
China is one of the first countries that responded to the GIAHS initiative, witnessed by the designation of Rice-Fish Culture in June, 2005 (Altieri and Koohafkan, 2007; Min et al., 2009b). The start-up meeting for the conservation and adaptive management of GIAHS- China Rice-Fish Culture was held in Beijing in February, 2009, which marked the GIAHS project start-up in China (Min et al., 2010). In March, 2012, MOA initiated the identification and conservation of China-NIAHS, which enabled China to become the first country in the world to select and conserve agricultural heritage systems at the national level. Both the China - GIAHS Scientific Committee and the China-NIAHS Scientific Committee were established in 2014, being responsible for the recommendation of GIAHS and NIAHS candidates to MOA as well as the improvement of the scientific rationality of their conservation and management. More importantly, the Ministry issued and implemented the Procedures on the Administration of Important Agricultural Heritage Systems( [accessed on 15 March, 2016]) in August, 2015, which was the first legal document on the administration of agricultural heritage systems in the world. By the end of 2015, the number of GIAHS designations in China had reached 11 (Appendix 1), accounting for about one third of the total allotment (that was 36) in the world. The total number of China-NIAHS came to 62 by the end of 2015 (Appendix 1), distributed in 25 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions in the mainland of China.
Thanks to a top-down effort to promote the initiative, GIAHS/China-NIAHS has become a nationwide concept in China. Although the development process has been relatively short, the urgency of GIAHS/China-NIAHS conservation has been recognized widely, as many of them have been increasingly challenged by industrialization and urbanization (Min et al., 2009a). However, for an effective conservation of agricultural heritage systems, at least four questions are most often discussed and must be considered first. They are: why should agricultural heritage systems be conserved? what should be conserved? how should they be conserved? and, who should conserve them? This paper aims to help clarify the discussion surrounding the conservation of agricultural heritage systems by providing detailed responses to the four common questions about GIAHS/NIAHS in China.

2 Why should agricultural heritage systems be conserved?

The reason why agricultural heritage systems should be conserved can be easily explained when their values are fully and accurately recognized. Similar to cultural and natural heritages, agricultural heritage systems also have “outstanding universal values (OUV)”. However, their OUV have their own connotations embedded in ecological and environmental advantages, social and cultural merits, including economy and livelihood, research and education, demonstration and promotion (Min et al., 2012).
One of the ecological advantages of agricultural heritage systems lies in that they have important genetic resources and are rich in agricultural biodiversity. Many research studies have demonstrated this. Different kinds of local varieties have been formed in the co-adaptation of the local community with its environment and have been well preserved in the agricultural heritage systems (Zhang et al., 2014b; Xia and Shen, 2014), which are richer in genetic diversity (Xia and Shen, 2014; Duan et al., 2004) and more adaptive to a changing environment (He et al., 2011; Lei et al., 2013) compared to new varieties in modern conventional agriculture. Another ecological advantage of agricultural heritage systems refers to the provision of important ecosystem services, such as water and soil conservation (Zhang et al., 2014b; Zong et al., 2014), control of diseases, pests and weeds (Zhu et al., 2000; Xie et al., 2011a; Xie et al., 2009; Zhang et al., 2011a; Zhang et al., 2011b), resilience to extreme climate (Sun et al., 2012; Bai et al., 2013; Sun et al., 2014), micro-climate regulation (Ren et al., 2014), improvement in soil fertility (Xie et al., 2011a; Zhang et al., 2014a) and resources utilization (Yang et al., 2009), reduction in non-point pollution (Xie et al., 2011b) and greenhouse gas emission (Ren et al., 2008), and maintenance of regional ecological balance (Jiao et al., 2009; Jiao et al., 2011).
The diversified biological resources and production processes in agricultural heritage systems bring about an abundance of agricultural products for local communities (He et al., 2010; Li et al., 2012; Zhu et al., 2015), including grains, vegetables, fruits, meat, oil, timber, fuel, medicine, dyes and sugar. The rich and varied products do not only provide local residents with adequate nutrition and food, but also improve their life quality by increasing their livelihood security, their health and social well-being. In addition, unique local varieties provide biological resources for the development of agriculture with local characteristics (Lei et al., 2013; Zhao et al., 2011; Xia and Shen, 2014); sound ecological conditions create a better environment for the development of ecological agriculture (Xie et al., 2011b); distinctive ethnic customs and local cultures promote the development of cultural (craft) industries and rural tourism (He et al., 2009; He et al., 2010). All of these help increase economic benefits and farmers’ incomes from agricultural production, thus demonstrating widespread economic and livelihood values in agricultural heritage systems (Min et al., 2012; Berweck et al., 2013).
In terms of social values, agricultural heritage systems are able to engage a large number of labor force (Zhao et al., 2012), partly because their diversified production processes and management activities are both labor-intensive (Sun et al., 2008). Another reason rests with that the multi-functionality of such systems which greatly reduces the pressure brought about by surplus labor in rural areas (Liu et al., 2014). The cultural values of agricultural heritage systems are embodied in their farming culture and its related rules and regulations (Liu et al., 2011; Bai et al., 2013), religious rituals, customs and habits, traditional knowledge and adapted technologies (Rao et al., 2009; Xu et al., 2010; Xue, 2011; Jiao et al., 2012; Yuan et al., 2013; 2014), which are able to promote and sustain the harmony between humanity and the nature (Long, 2011). They are also represented in folk legends, songs and dances, diet, clothing and architectural culture related to agricultural activities, which act as an important medium to maintain cultural identity and promote cultural inheritance (He et al., 2010; Zhang et al., 2011c).
Agricultural heritage systems exhibit a multitude of values that are embodied in a variety of aspects and should be fully recognized by both administrators and farmers. These values did not matter in the past only, but are now important and will also play a role in the future: an important role in food security, food safety, the growth of economy, the maintenance of social stability and the inheritance of traditional culture at both the local and national levels, which is exactly the reason why agricultural heritage systems should be conserved.

3 What should be conserved?

The answer to this question is closely related to the definition and connotation of agricultural heritage systems as well as their component parts.
Defined by FAO in 2002, 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” (Koohafkan, 2009). On the basis of this definition, FAO has set corresponding criteria for the selection of GIAHS, requiring them to be of global importance with outstanding features. Global importance is a composite criterion, which synthesizes the overall global “public good” value described under the five subsequent criteria. The outstanding features are summarized in the five criteria that represent the totality of functions, goods and services provided by the system( [accessed on 15 March, 2016]). These criteria are food and livelihood security; biodiversity and ecosystem functions; knowledge systems and adapted technologies; culture, value systems and social organizations; remarkable landscapes, land and water resources management features (Koohafkan and dela Cruz, 2011).
China-NIAHS are defined by MOA in 2012 as “ingenious agricultural production systems created from the long-term co-adaptation of a rural community/population with its environment and inherited to now, that are rich in biological diversity, traditional knowledge and technologies, remarkable ecological and cultural landscape and are of important scientific and practical relevance to the inheritance, sustainability and multi-functionality of agriculture in China”. The key features of China-NIAHS are described as living, adaptive, complex, strategic, multi-functional and endangered; the criteria for their selection are comprised of four basic measures and two supplementary ones (Table 1)( [accessed on 15 March, 2016]).
Table 1 Comparison between GIAHS and China-NIAHS selection criteria
Although there are differences between GIAHS and China-NIAHS in the definition and selection criteria, both of them include tangible and intangible parts that could also be found in cultural and natural mixed heritages as well as in cultural landscapes. However, agricultural heritage systems are distinct from and more complex than conventional heritages (Min and Sun, 2009), as they are living, evolving systems of human communities in an intricate relationship with their environment, agricultural landscape, biophysical and wider social system. Human beings and their livelihood activities have continually adapted to the potentials and constraints of the environment and also shaped the landscape and the biological environment to different degrees. This has led to an accumulation of experiences over generations, an increasing range and depth of their knowledge systems and generally, but not necessarily, a complex and diverse range of livelihood activities, often closely integrated (Min et al., 2010).
By the end of 2015, there were a total of 62 China-NIAHS sites recognized by MOA, which included 11 GIAHS sites certified by FAO. Although they are located in different geographic regions (Figure 1), created by different ethnic groups, characterized by different types of agricultural production and maintained under different levels of economic development, all of these systems provide outstanding contributions to promoting food security, biodiversity, indigenous knowledge and cultural diversity for sustainable development at both local and national levels as complex, living and adaptive systems. Their comprehensiveness therefore determines that their conservation is also a complex, systematic “engineering” (Fuller and Min, 2013), which is different from and more complicated than that of conventional heritages and should be considered and performed in a holistic way (dela Cruz and Koohafkan, 2009).
Figure 1 Distribution of GIAHS and China-NIAHS in China

Note: Refer to Appendix 1 for the names of agricultural heritage systems represented by numbers

Specifically, what should be conserved, in the conservation of agricultural heritage systems, includes both physical and biological components (i.e., local species and varieties, agricultural biodiversity, important ecosystem functions, ecological and cultural landscapes) and associated socio-cultural processes (i.e., cultural and value systems, knowledge and technology systems for agricultural production, bio-resources utilization, land and water resources management and environmental conservation).

4 Who should conserve them?

For centuries, it is farm communities that have developed these diverse and locally adapted agricultural heritage systems, managing them with ingenious practices that result in food security and agro-biodiversity conservation. Theoretically, farmers who continue with traditional agricultural production are supposed to be the owners as well as the protectors of agricultural heritage systems. However, given the endangered situation which some of the systems are facing, it is difficult to fulfill the purpose of the conservation by relying on farmers only. Besides, it is also unfair to impose the pressure of conserving the heritages shared by all humankind on farmers who are vulnerable members of society. Therefore, a multi-stakeholder process must be established for a more effective conservation of agricultural heritage systems (Min and Zhong, 2006).
The multi-stakeholders are identified as governments (central and local governments and their different sectors), multi-disciplinary scientists (ecologists, agronomists, economists, historians, planners, managers, etc.), communities and farmers, enterprises as well as social organizations (media, citizens, non-governmental organizations, etc.) and shall all participate in the conservation of agricultural heritage systems at different levels (Table 2).
Table 2 Participation strategy of multi-stakeholders at different levels (dela Cruz and Koohafkan, 2009)
Level Stakeholder Main task Support needed
National National government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs),
line ministries
Develop/enhance national policies and legislation and make resources available to implement dynamic conservation and mainstreaming of GIAHS in the national program GIAHS concept and strategic focus, political support, technical and financial resources
(regional/ provincial/ district)
Province or district
government, NGOs,
businesses/ planning
Institutional development and networking
Implement national policies: coordinate involvement of practicing actors in dynamic conservation of GIAHS, organize application of policies like payment for biodiversity, water services, promote cultural diversity
Supporting national policies and resources
Local farmers, local government, local
businesses, academe
GIAHS dynamic conservation
Local innovation and knowledge sharing
Valorization and develop pride in
tradition and culture
Participate in decentralized governance and natural resources management
Communicate needs to higher governance levels
Capacity building, local empowerment, payment for environmental services,
market access and development
Research Academe Link concepts and practice
Develop operational systems (biodiversity, socio-ecology, institutional development)
Global conceptual clarity
Private sector and/or
line ministries in trade, industry and/or
Link productivity, quality and payments, niche products, eco-tourism, etc. Legal framework for labeling of methods and origins of
production etc.
In China, a multi-stakeholder process was established at the very beginning that can be traced back to the period of 2005 to 2008 when FAO/GEF-GIAHS -China Rice-Fish Culture project was under preparation (Min et al., 2009b). After ten years of trial and improvement, a “Five-in-One” multi-stakeholder process has been gradually established, which is led by governments, promoted by scientists and driven by enterprises with active participation of communities and farmers and cooperation from social organizations.
Both local and national governments are playing a leading role in the conservation of agricultural heritage systems in China by formulating conservation policies and planning, implementing standardized management and providing financial support (Zhao et al., 2012). For governments, one of the most important tasks is to incorporate the conservation and management of agricultural heritage systems into the general plan for local or national development and to combine their conservation with other development strategies (Cao, 2012; Zhang and Liu, 2014). It also should be noted that the conservation of agricultural heritage systems involves a variety of departments besides agriculture, such as forestry, animal husbandry, water conservation, environmental protection, culture, tourism, science and technology, education, etc. Therefore, how to coordinate different departments and make joint efforts to conserve agricultural heritage systems is another important task for governments (Zhang and Liu, 2014).
Science and technology is also playing a very important part in the conservation of agricultural heritage systems. Experts from different disciplines like ecology, history, culture and economy have widely participated in the conservation of agricultural heritage systems by assessing their multiple values, analyzing and enhancing their sustainable mechanisms, assisting in the formulation of conservation and development planning, combining traditional knowledge with modern technologies and promoting scientific popularization (Min et al., 2010). The important role that enterprises are playing in the conservation of agricultural heritage systems is represented in developing products and markets, increasing capital investment and improving management abilities.
Communities and farmers are the “masters” of agricultural heritage systems, who are directly involved in the conservation of agricultural heritage systems (Geng et al., 2008). They are also the main bodies of cultural inheritance, agricultural production and market operation, therefore being the main beneficiaries of the achievements of the conservation. The new-style of farmers who combine traditional knowledge with modern technologies to enhance agricultural production and management are needed in the future. The awareness raising and active participation of the public will create a good social environment for the conservation of agricultural heritage systems. Both domestic and international experiences indicate that the participation of media and NGOs has brought about a critical boosting effect on heritage conservation (Min et al., 2010). In addition, citizens are also very important in the conservation of agricultural heritage systems, demonstrated by the adoption system and volunteer system implemented in Japan to promote heritage conservation (Zhang C et al., 2015).

5 How should they be conserved?

Agricultural heritage systems are described as living systems that are dynamic and adaptive, exhibiting strategic values of multi-functionality and sustainability (Min et al., 2011). Given these distinctive features, the conservation of agricultural heritage systems cannot be fulfilled by adopting conventional measures that were used on conventional heritages like ancient architecture (Min and Sun, 2009) which is basically static. Maintaining agricultural heritage systems in a static, unchanging way will to some extent result in more serious damage in the long run or in the maintenance of continuous poverty. Therefore, the conservation of agricultural heritage systems must be conducted in a dynamic way so that local farmers can benefit from the continuance of the traditional agricultural production while the heritage site can seek development under the premise of ecological functions being conserved and traditional culture being inherited (Koohafkan and dela Cruz, 2011).
As mentioned above, agricultural heritage systems provide important ecosystem services, such as water and soil conservation, micro-climate regulation, reduction in non-point pollution and biodiversity conservation. However, these important ecosystem services are public goods with externalities, which means that the residents cannot directly benefit from their conservation in an economically measurable way (Min et al., 2008). Therefore, a mechanism of payment for ecosystem services (PES) is needed to be used as an incentive to encourage the residents to continue practicing traditional agricultural production methods (Min et al., 2012). For instance, Liu et al. (2014) investigated the willingness of farmers to accept, under different conditions, reduced use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers in rice paddies. Combined with the value of ecosystem services, the dynamic PES standards are established that fluctuate with the price of agricultural products from the rice paddies, thus increasing the effectiveness of the PES mechanism implemented by the government. Zhang Y et al. (2015) established the PES standards for farmers who are in the transfer period of organic farming in rice terraces by calculating their economic loss during this period, therefore contributing to the adoption of environmentally friendly practices in the maintenance of agricultural heritage systems.
To realize dynamic conservation of agricultural heritage systems, a mechanism for preserving of cultural elements should also be established. Threatened by industrialization and urbanization, an abundance of traditional rules and regulations, customs and habits, as well as various art forms related to agriculture are faced with the risk of being lost without inheritance. Therefore, cultural elements in agricultural heritage systems should be treated the same as ecological ones like biodiversity, ecological functions and landscapes and be preserved with them as an entity in a dynamic way. For example, traditional villages in heritage sites should be renovated in the aspects of infrastructure, fireproofing and building structure so that they can meet the requirements for modern life in a better way (Zhang et al., 2011c; Yang et al., 2014) while maintaining the character, morphology and system of the old village. Modern information technologies should be utilized to publicize and promote traditional culture (Qiao, 2007) and combined with traditional connotations to make a balance between its development and its preservation (Lu and Wang, 2013).
Another important approach to enhance dynamic conservation is to establish a mechanism of eco-cultural industrial promotion that is derived from the multi-functionality of agricultural heritage systems. This mechanism is built upon agricultural production function and can be extended to other functions like agricultural product processing, biological resources utilization, cultural creativity and rural tourism (Min et al., 2012). It also seeks synergies between different functions. For instance, with the increasing requirements on food safety in modern society, more and more farmers in heritage sites have begun to utilize local biological resources and ecological conditions to produce high-quality agricultural products with cultural connotation, which are specialty products and which in turn promote the conservation of their agricultural heritage systems (He et al., 2009). Leisure agriculture and/or rural tourism is also considered an effective way to activate local residents to participate in the conservation of agricultural heritage systems while solving local employment and maintaining social stability (Sun, 2012; Li et al., 2015). For example, leisure agriculture and/or rural tourism developed on agricultural heritage systems has brought positive effects on the conservation of Rice-Fish Culture in Qingtian County, Zhejiang Province where labor shortage and land abandonment caused by urbanization has threatened the sustainability of the rice-fish system (Sun et al., 2006; Fuller et al., 2015). However, tourism is a coin with two sides. In the development of rural tourism, the characteristics of agricultural heritage systems must be fully considered (Min et al., 2007) and appropriate development modes must be chosen after tourism capacities and potentials are scientifically evaluated (Sun et al., 2011; Tian et al., 2015).

6 Conclusions

The conservation of agricultural heritage systems aims to promote the sustainable development of heritage sites, especially those ecologically fragile, economically undeveloped, but culturally rich areas, to improve the livelihood security and social welfare of local residents, and to provide references points for the development of modern agriculture in China. This includes lessons in resilience, adaptability and coping strategies, both physical and human, that offer strategic examples for modern farming systems to include. It does not mean that the conservation of agricultural heritage systems go against the development of modern practices as has been emphasized by dynamic conservation and adaptive management in GIAHS/NIAHS in China. This opposes both “destructive exploitation” without any planning or control as well as rigid, unchanging “frozen preservation”. The conservation of agricultural heritage systems does not deviate from the improvement of the livelihood and well-being of local residents. On the contrary, it strives for providing diversified goods and services for local residents and increasing their living standards and quality of life on the basis of self-maintenance and self-development of agricultural heritage systems. The conservation of agricultural heritage systems is thus not opposed to the development of modern agriculture. Traditional agriculture and their combination with modern farming technologies points out the direction that modern agriculture should go in.


Appendix 1 The list of GIAHS and China-NIAHS in China
No. Batch Designation Year
1 1 2013/2005 Qingtian Rice-Fish Culture , Zhejiang Province
2 1 2013/2010 Honghe Hani Rice Terraces, Yunnan Province
3 1 2013/2010 Wannian Traditional Rice Culture, Jiangxi Province
4 1 2013/2011 Congjiang Dong’s Rice-Fish-Duck System, Guizhou Province
5 1 2013/2012 Pu’er Traditional Tea Agrosystem, Yunnan Province
6 1 2013/2012 Aohan Dryland Farming System, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region
7 1 2013/2013 Xuanhua Traditional Vineyards, Hebei Province
8 1 2013/2013 Shaoxing Kuaijishan Ancient Chinese Torreya, Zhejiang Province
9 1 2013/2014 Jiaxian Traditional Chinese Date Gardens, Shaanxi Province
10 1 2013/2014 Fuzhou Jasmine and Tea Culture System, Fujian Province
11 1 2013/2014 Xinghua Duotian Agrosystem, Jiangsu Province
12 1 2013 Anshan Nanguo Pear Planting System, Liaoning Province
13 1 2013 Kuandian Traditional Shizhu Ginseng Cultivation System, Liaoning Province
14 1 2013 Youxi Lianhe Rice Terraces, Fujian Province
15 1 2013 Xinhua Ziquejie Rice Terraces, Hunan Province
16 1 2013 Yangbi Juglans Sigillata Dode and Crops Composite System, Yunnan
17 1 2013 Shichuan Traditional Pear Gardens, Gansu Province
18 1 2013 Zhagana Agro-Sylvo-Pastoral Compound System, Gansu Province
19 1 2013 Turfan Karez Agrosystem, Xinjiang Autonomous Region
20 2 2014 Cuizhuang Ancient Winter Jujube Gardens, Tianjin
21 2 2014 Kuancheng Traditional Chinese Chestnut Planting System, Hebei Province
22 2 2014 Shexian Dryland Terraces, Hebei Province
No. Batch Designation Year
23 2 2014 Arhorchin Grassland Nomadic System, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region
24 2 2014 Hangzhou West Lake Longjing Tea Culture System, Zhejiang Province
25 2 2014 Huzhou Mulberry-Dyke-Fish-Pond System, Zhejiang Province
26 2 2014 Qingyuan Mushroom Culture System, Zhejiang Province
27 2 2014 Anxi Tieguanyin Tea Culture System, Fujian Province
28 2 2014 Chongyi Hakka Rice Terraces, Jiangxi Province
29 2 2014 Xiajin Ancient Mulberry Groves in Old Yellow River Course,
Shandong Province
30 2 2014 Yangloudong Brick Tea Culture System, Hubei Province
31 2 2014 Xinhuang Dong-Treasured-Red-Rice Culture System, Hunan Province
32 2 2014 Chao’an Camellia sinens Tea Culture System, Guangdong Province
33 2 2014 Lonhsheng Longji Rice Terraces, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region
34 2 2014 Jiangyou Traditional Magnolia Flower Planting System, Sichuan Province
35 2 2014 Guangnan Babao Rice Culture System, Yunnan Province
36 2 2014 Jianchuan Rice-Wheat Rotation Farming System, Yunnan Province
37 2 2014 Minxian Angelica Sinensis Cropping System, Gansu Province
38 2 2014 Lingwu Long Jujube Cropping System, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region
39 2 2014 Hami Melon Cultivation System, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region
40 3 2015 Pinggu Sizuolou Juglans hopeiensis Planting System, Beijing
41 3 2015 Jing-Xi-Rice Culture System, Beijing
42 3 2015 Huanren Jingzu Rice Culture System, Liaoning Province
43 3 2015 Yanbian Apple Pear Planting System, Jilin Province
44 3 2015 Fuyuan Fish Culture System of Hezhe Nationality, Heilongjiang Province
45 3 2015 Ning’an Xiangshui Rice Culture System, Heilongjiang Province
46 3 2015 Taixing Gingko Planting System, Jiangsu Province
47 3 2015 Xianju Waxberry Planting System, Zhejiang Province
48 3 2015 Yunhe Rice Terraces, Zhejiang Province
49 3 2015 Shouxian Quebei Irrigation Project (Anfeng Reservoir) and Irrigated Farming System, Anhui Province
50 3 2015 Xiuning Fishery System with Flowing Mountain Spring, Anhui Province
51 3 2015 Zaozhuang Ancient Jujube Forests, Shandong Province
52 3 2015 Laoling Jujube-crop Eco-farming System, Shandong Province
53 3 2015 Lingbao Ancient Valley-and-Plain Jujube Forest, Henan Province
54 3 2015 Enshi Gyokuro Tea Culture System, Hubei Province
55 3 2015 Longan “Na” Rice Culture System of Zhuang Nationality,
Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region
56 3 2015 Cangxi Snow Pear Planting System, Sichuan Province
57 3 2015 Meigu Tartary Buckwheat Farming System, Sichuan Province
58 3 2015 Huaxi Ancient Tea and Culture System, Guizhou Province
59 3 2015 Shuangjiang Mengku Ancient Tea and Culture System, Yunnan Province
60 3 2015 Yongdeng Kushui Rose Farming System, Gansu Province
61 3 2015 Zhongning Chinese Wolfberry Cultivation System, Ningxia Hui Autonomous
62 3 2015 Qitai Dryland Farming Landscape, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Altieri M A, Koohafkan P, [accessed on 8 September 2007]

Bai Y, Min Q, Liu Met al., 2013. Resilience of the Hani rice terraces system to extreme drought.Journal of Food Agriculture & Environment, 11(3/4): 2376-2382.

Berweck S, Koohafkan P, dela Cruz M Jet al., 2013. Conceptual framework for economic evaluation of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS): The case of Rice Fish Culture in China.Journal of Resources and Ecology, 4(3): 202-211.The Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems(GIAHS)initiative was launched by the Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO)of the United Nations in 2002 with the aim of establishing the basis for the global recognition,dynamic conservation and adaptive management of outstanding traditional agricultural systems and their associated landscapes,biodiversity,knowledge systems and cultures.There is anecdotal evidence that designated GIAHS are economically better than non-GIAHS sites.However, there have not been done an economic analysis to prove this.Nor are any sophisticated economic performance criteria for GIAHS in place for a continuously monitoring of the functioning.Therefore,the main objective of this study is to conduct an economic valuation for a GIAHS system versus a similar non designated GIAHS system.For this,a Cost-Benefit Analysis(CBA)is chosen.The major constraint is the data availability.Therefore,a framework for economic analysis shall be developed with the intention to provide directions,assumptions,and data requirement to carry out an economic analysis and so give guidance on future inclusion of economic valuations of GIAHS.Theconceptual framework for economic assessment will use the Rice-Fish pilot site in China as a case study.The example calculations on the rice-fish co-culture(RFC)have to be taken cautiously due to data availability on different activities (tourism,marketed products on local and international markets)as well as comparison to similar systems.


Cao X, 2012. Agro-cultural heritage protection and new countryside construction. Journal of China Agricultural University (Social Sciences Edition), 29(3): 20-24. (in Chinese)

Dela Cruz M J and Koohafkan P, 2009. Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems: A shared vision of agricultural, ecological and traditional societal sustainability.Resources Science, 31(6): 905-913.In line with the sustainable development and environmental agenda, many approaches to sustainable natural resources management have been conceptualised and implemented, to support rural communities and improve their livelihoods. One of the initiatives launched by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations few years ago is the conservation and adaptive management of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS). Built on local resources and dynamic knowledge and time-tested experiences, Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) reflect the evolution of humanity, the diversity of its knowledge, and its profound harmony with nature. These living and evolving systems and communities have kept their distinct identities intact on the strength of unifying values such as nature, family, community, history, and a sense of belonging to their natural habitats. Dynamic conservation of GIAHS is an example of a holistic management approach; a shared vision of agricultural, ecological and traditional societal sustainability. Work is ongoing worldwide to promote recognition of GIAHS and safeguard their continued co-evolution.

Duan H, Shao W, Wang Set al., 2004. Study on the genetic diversity of peculiar tea germplasm resource in Yunnan by RAPD.Journal of Yunnan Agricultural University, 19(3): 246-254. (in Chinese)Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA (RAPD) technique was used to analysis the genetic diversity of 48 materials,Which including wild type old tea tree,intermediate type old tea tree,cultivated type species,wild species,local variety and the kidney plant:Camellia fascicularis. The classification and blood relationship among 48 germplasm were explored from DNA level. No single-morphic band has been found among the total 112 DNA bands. The genetic diversity degree was 100%. The figure showed that the tea trees in Yunnan processing much high genetic diversity on DNA molecular level. The genetic distance was between 0.116 to 0.527 and the average was 0.202. All the RAPD amplified bands were clustered by Unweighted Pair Group with Mathematic Average (UPGMA) based on Euclidean distances. The dendrogram of UPGMA showed that the 48 materials could be classified into 5 groups including 3 complex groups and 2 simple groups, which was basically identical with morphological classification.


Fuller A M, Min Q, Jiao Wet al., 2015. Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) of China: The challenge of complexity in research.Ecosystem Health and Sustainability, 1(2): 6.Abstract The challenge of researching Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) as complex systems forms the subject matter of this study. Complex adaptive systems are those that combine natural ecological processes with human interactions to produce a mutually supportive agro-ecological system. In China, these highly varied systems have the added dimension of long historical time, in that they have evolved over many centuries and thus add a historical dimension to the natural and human dimensions of complexity. In preparing research on GIAHS, it is clear that seeing GIAHS sites as whole systems is an essential starting and ending point. Examining the adaptive capacity of a GIAHS with its multiple scales and complex interdependencies is a major challenge for researchers accustomed to specialized disciplinary thinking. A GIAHS represents a mature agro-ecological system with human agency as a central component that has been honed over many centuries, and has already adapted to many perturbations and changes. The beauty of the GIAHS is in the integration of custom, knowledge, and practice, and it should be studied for its “wholeness” as well as for its resilience and capacity for “self organization.” The agro-ecological approach opens the possibility of researching a system as a whole and of taking its complexity seriously. This study reviews the essential features of the GIAHS as a complex adaptive system where uncertainty is normal and surprise is welcome and, in a case study of Qingtian rice–fish culture system, focuses on new perturbations, namely loss of young people and the introduction of tourism.



Fuller T, Min Q, 2013. Understanding agricultural heritage sites and complex adaptive systems: The challenge of complexity.Journal of Resources and Ecology, 4(3): 195-201.In rural life,everything is connected to everything else.Seen as a complex adaptive system,the "rural" in most regions of the world has evolved over many centuries and is well known to have endured invasive predations and conflicts and to have adapted to changing conditions,both physical and human, many times.Such changes are recorded in the culture and in the landscapes which have continuously evolved and which characterize rural places today.These features of contemporary rural life-economy, culture and landscape-are the key elements of rural systems.Interestingly,they have also become the elements that attract tourists to rural areas.This theoretical paper,starts from the position that the rural world as a whole is complex and that systems adjust in the face of uncertainty,and a type of dynamism that is generated externally in the form of shocks and stresses.Complex Adaptive Systems theory provides an excellent opportunity to examine living systems such as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems(GIAHS)in China that can provide new perspectives on resilience and self-organizing capabilities of the system.The paper suggests that adopting such approaches in contemporary research will produce new insights of whole systems and stem the tide of mainstream scientific research that reduces systems to their component parts and studies them with micro-techniques,while mostly failing to reintegrate the component parts back into the system as a whole.By reviewing this approach in relation to GIAHS and by introducing tourism into the rural village system,as a perturbation,we can create new ways to understand the effects of rural development interventions in ancient landscapes such as those which cover many parts of rural China today.


Geng Y, Min Q, Cheng Set al., 2008. Discussion on multi-stakeholders collaborative mechanism for GIAHS conservation: Taking “traditional rice-fish agriculture” in Qingtian as an example.Ancient and Modern Agriculture, (1): 109-117. (in Chinese)

He L, Min Q, Zhang Det al., 2009. Study on agricultural development mode in traditional agricultural areas: A case study of Congjiang county of Guizhou Province.Resources Science, 31(6): 956-961. (in Chinese)Modern conventional agriculture not only provides high grain production, but also results in agricultural pollution and ecological damages to environment. Therefore, agriculture nowadays begins to focus on environment-friendly and sustainable development, such as organic agriculture. Most traditional agricultural regions are economically backward, and often maintain traditional agricultural production methods by using no or little fertilizer or pesticicides. Compared with agriculturally well-developed regions, environment in these areas stays much better. Agricultural development in these traditional areas should not repeat the process of transforming from traditional agriculture to modern conventional agriculture and then to organic agriculture. However, critical financial considerations limit its direct development into organic agriculture. Congjiang County is a typical region of traditional agriculture where agricultural biology resource, labor resource and environment have potential advantages, but agricultural development is slow due to the limited land, economical and technological resources. The farmland area per person in Congjiang County is less than half the figure in China. The use of fertilizer and pesticide is much lower due to economic resons, so the environment in Congjiang County remains healthy and has the potential to develop organic agriculture. However, the extremely inadequate education of rural labor( mostly under high school level) and the lower-than-average income of farmers may hinder the progress of agriculture mode change in Congjiang County. In this paper, agricultural resources of Congjiang County are analyzed, including land resource, water resource, biology resource, labor resource, light and heat resource, ecological environment and tourism resources. Then, its agricultural development mode is discussed, including consideratoin of introducing organic agriculture, production of high-quality agricultural products, development of agriculture with distinguishing features, enhance of industrialization construction, introduction of eco-agriculture thinking and efficient use of resources, development of agricultural eco-tourism. There are many different national minorities in Congjiang County, which is thus rich in unique cultures. To specify, Dong nationality has created rice-fish-duck agricultural system, which is the assistant site of GIAHS (Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems). This can bring new opportunities to the development of modern agriculture in Congjiang County.

He L, Min Q, Zhang Det al., 2010. Evaluation models for multifunctionality of agriculture and their applications: A case study on Qingtian County in Zhejiang Province, China.Resources Science, 32(6): 1057-1064. (in Chinese)Multifunctionality in agriculture refers to the non-trade benefits of agriculture, that is, benefits other then commerce and food production such as environmental protection, landscape preservation, rural employment, and food security in terms of the WTO definition. Due to specific natural conditions and human activities, agricultural heritage sites always have a fragile ecological environment, rich cultures, undeveloped economy as well as multifunctionality in agriculture. This means that agricultural heritage sites have production, ecological, cultural and other functions. To that end, recognizing and evaluating multifunctionality of agriculture at agricultural heritage sites would be conducive to a comprehensive understanding of the value of the agricultural heritage, and in turn to providing guidance for agricultural development. Based on the definition of multifunctionality of agriculture at agricultural heritage sites, the authors established evaluation models for agricultural multifunctionality at agricultural heritage sites and examined Qingtian County in Zhejiang Province, the first pilot site of Globally Agricultural Heritage Systems selected by FAO in 2005. Multifunctionality of agriculture at agricultural heritage sites can reflect essentially in five aspects, i.e., the food production, agricultural biodiversity conservation, traditional agricultural knowledge system and culture conservation, agro-ecological environmental protection and agricultural landscape conservation. The value of the food production function is determined by the guaranteed rate of per capita grain and equivalent per capita arable land area. The value of agricultural biodiversity conservation function can be determined by the diversity of traditional rice varieties. The value of traditional agricultural knowledge system and culture conservation is determined by the importance of intangible culture heritage. The value of agro-ecological environmental protection is determined by fertilizer and pesticide intensity and Eco-environmental Quality Index (EQI). The value of landscape conservation is determined by the tourism revenue. Evaluation results indicated that Qingtian County showed the highest value of 0.86 in agro-ecological environmental protection and an agricultural landscapes conservation value of 0.83, but it had the lowest value of 0.27 in agricultural biodiversity conservation. Using a multi-dimensional model, the comprehensive value of multifunctionality in agriculture in Qingtian County was found to be 0.641. Qingtian County has a long history of raising fish in rice paddies and has been maintaining the traditional rice-fish system exemplified in traditional ecological agriculture. The government and people there have been dedicating to developing green rice-fish products and agricultural tourism, thereby resulting in the highest value of agro-ecological environmental protection and agricultural landscapes conservation. Located in the eastern developed areas in China, there are limited planting areas for traditional rice varieties.

He X, Sun Y, Gao Det al., 2011. Comparison of agronomic traits between rice landraces and modern varieties at different altitude in paddy field of Yuanyang Terrace, Yunnan Province.Journal of Resource and Ecology, 2(1): 46-50.

Jiao W, Min Q, Cheng S et al., 2009. Ecological capacity of a traditional agricultural area based on ecological footprint: A case study of Qingtian County, Zhejiang Province.Resources Science, 2009, 31(1): 63-68. (in Chinese)Qingtian County in Zhejiang Province has a long history of raising fish in rice paddies and has been maintaining this traditional rice-fish system, which is an example of both traditional ecological agriculture and distinctive cultural heritage, so it was selected by FAO as a pilot site for the rice-fish agricultural heritage system in 2005. The research presented in this article uses ecological footprint and biocapacity as indicators to monitor environmental conditions and analyse the ecological capacity of Qingtian County in 2003, aiming to provide a scientific foundation for the protection of this agricultural heritage site as well as valuable experience for the development of modern agricultural areas. Among the notable results was that, as opposed to zhejiang province China,the world and other agricultural regions, Qingtian County is characterised by a nearly breakeven total ecological balance, meaning that almost the entire local demand for natural resources can be supplied locally. Specifically, the biocapacity per capita of Qingtian County was 0.6898 ha, with cropland and forest comprising almost 93% of the total , while fishing grounds and grazing land contributing very little. Biocapacity per capita of Qingtian County is much lower than that of China and the world, totalling 86.2% of the national average and 38.8% of the global average, but it was not far off the provincial average. Qingtian County, as a typical traditional agricultural area, had a moderate biocapacity which did not differ greatly from that of other intensive agricultural areas in China. Qingtian County, although its biocapacity was not high enough, could better maintain an ecological balance than other agricultural areas due to its low ecological footprint per capita, which was only 0.6952 ha.

Jiao W, Min Q, Cheng Set al., 2011. The Emergy-based Ecological Footprint (EEF) of traditional agricultural areas in China: The case study of Congjiang County, Guizhou Province.Journal of Resources and Ecology, 2(1): 289-299.

Jiao Y, Li X, Liang Let al., 2012. Indigenous ecological knowledge and natural resource management in the cultural landscape of China’s Hani Terraces.Ecological Research, 27: 247-263.Abstract<br/>Indigenous ecological knowledge (IEK) can contribute to the management of local ecosystems and landscapes. Cultural landscapes are produced by and reflect the long-term interactions between humans and nature in indigenous societies. Yunnan Province, located in southwestern China, is the homeland of many ethnic groups, and is also a refuge for numerous species of wild plants and animals. Indigenous people in Yunnan, who have rich ecological knowledge, play an important role in the conservation of local biodiversity and the region’s unique terraced agricultural landscapes. We used the Hani people and their outstanding cultural landscape of rice terraces in Yuanyang County of Yunnan Province as a case study to describe their worldview and discuss their formation of IEK; their roles in the preservation of rice landraces and in pest regulation; their management of water, forest, and soil resources; and the vertical landscape pattern and resource-circulation system that has evolved in the areas managed by the Hani. We also discuss the challenges and threats facing the Hani, their IEK, and their cultural landscape, as well as discuss the potential for integration of the Hani’s IEK with modern conservation efforts.<br/>


Koohafkan P and dela Cruz M J, 2011. Conservation and adaptive management of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS).Journal of Resources and Ecology, 2(1): 22-28.Worldwide specific agricultural systems and landscapes have been created,shaped and maintained by generations of farmers and herders based on diverse natural resources using locally adapted management practices.Building on local knowledge and experience these ingenious agricultural systems reflect the evolution of humankind,the diversity of its knowledge and its profound relationship with nature. These systems have resulted not only in outstanding landscapes maintenance and adaptation of globally significant agricultural biodiversity indigenous knowledge systems and resilient ecosystems,but above all, in the sustained provision of multiple goods and services,food and livelihood security and quality of life. However,many of these systems are facing severe threats from various sources including globalization. In 2002 FAO initiated an international partnership initiative:&ldquo;conservation and adaptive management of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems(GIAHS)&rdquo;.The global GIAHS initiative aims to establish the basis for the international recognition,dynamic conservation and sustainable management of such systems,agricultural biodiversity and their associated biodiversity knowledge systems,food and livelihood security,landscapes and cultures.


Koohafkan P, 2009. Conservation and adaptive management of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS).Resources Science, 31(1): 4-9.Worldwide, specific agricultural systems and landscapes have been created, shaped and maintained by generations of farmers and herders based on diverse natural resources, using locally adapted management practices. Building on local knowledge and experience, these ingenious agriculturalsystems reflect the evolution of humankind, the diversity of its knowledge, and its profound relationship with nature. These systems have resulted not only in outstanding landscapes, maintenance and adaptation of globally significant agricultural biodiversity, indigenous knowledge systems and resilient ecosystems, but, above all, in the sustained provision of multiple goods and services, food and livelihood security and quality of life. However, many of these systems are facing severe threats from sources including globalization. In 2002 FAO initiated an international partnership initiative “conservation and adaptive management of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)”. The global GIAHS initiative aims to establish the basis for the international recognition, dynamic conservation and sustainable management of such systems, agricultural biodiversity and their associated biodiversity, knowledge systems, food and livelihood security, landscapes and cultures.

Lei Q, Zhang W, Sun Jet al., 2013. Traditional management and utilization of glutinous rice genetic resources in southeast Guizhou.Plant Diversity and Resources, 35(2): 195-201. (in Chinese)<p>Southeast Guizhou, inhabited by the Miao, Dong, Buyi, Shui, Yao, Zhuang, Tujia, Gejia and Han Chinese, is famous for its complicated biophysical environments. The region is very rich not only in biological diversity, but also in traditional cultural diversity. In the present paper, we studied the relationship betwen traditional culture in Southeast Guizhou and the management &amp; utilization of local glutinous rice genetic resources. Although Southeast Guizhou had undergone three great improvements from &ldquo;Glutinous Rice to Nonglutinous Rice&rdquo; various glutinous rice landraces still exist in the region. A total number of 243 glutinous rice genetic resources specimens were collected in the research, among them 19 specimens are marked difference in morophological characteristics.And, besides that this kind of rice adapt to the complex and changeful environment easily, the main reason is that the national traditional cultural has countless contacts with the management and utilization diversity of the aromatic glutinous rice species, which is the determining factor of the species diversity of glutinous rice can be well preserved in southeast of Guizhou. The different ethnic groups of Southeast of Guizhou not only created colorful ethnic traditional culture, but also made contribution to the protection and utilization of ecological agriculture, culture and species diversity. In addtition, we further validates that the positive significance of the influence of diversity of national traditional culture on the protection and utilization of biodiversity.</p>


Li W, Liu M, Min Q, 2012. Agricultural heritage conservation: New opportunity for developing eco-agriculture.Chinese Journal of Eco-Agriculture, 20(6): 663-667. (in Chinese)Due to advances in science and technology and intensive utilization of land, significant agricultural achievements have been attained at the expense certain eco-agricultural and environmental problems. It has also been noted that some traditional farming methods are uniquely advantageous in the adaptation to climate change, ecosystem services supply and environmental protection. Humans have realized the importance of protecting traditional agro-technologies, bio-resources and unique agro-landscapes. After nearly 30 years of practice and development, China’s eco-agriculture has achieved remarkable results. However, current eco-agricultural development was not entirely satisfactory mainly due to the following two reasons: 1) lack of further research and accountability on agro-ecosystem services functions; and 2) difficulty in obtaining remarkable economic benefits driven by lack of market-oriented guidance, scale management, specialized production and brand popularization of traditional autarkic peasant economy. At present, the development of present societies was not only new but also led to numerous new problems. The practice of agricultural heritage widened new visions and provided new resolutions to emerging issues. To promote further development of eco-agriculture, it was necessary to look for new understandings of multi-functional agriculture in relation to production, ecology and culture.

Li Z, Zou H, Yi Qet al., 2015. The agricultural cultural heritage tourism resources potential evaluation to terraces.Economic Geography, 35(6): 198-201. (in Chinese)

Liu M, Xiong Y, Yuan Zet al., 2014. Standards of ecological compensation for traditional eco-agriculture: Taking rice-fish system in Hani terrace as an example.Journal of Mountain Science, 11(4): 1049-1059.Traditional eco-agriculture provides many ecosystem services which are important for the local environment, especially in mountain areas. In order to encourage the farmers to engage in eco-agriculture, it is necessary to establish an eco-compensation mechanism for them. As the compensation standard is one of key issues in establishing eco-compensation mechanism, this paper calculated the standard based on the farmers’ willingness to accept (WTA) and the input-output analysis of eco-compensation. We took the traditional rice-fish eco-agriculture as the research object, conducting field surveys in Hani Terrace of Honghe County. Through the questionnaires in 2011, we obtained the farmers’ willingness to accept government compensation and market compensation. Then, the research evaluated the output of eco-compensation, the economic value of rice-fish paddy ecosystem services. Finally, under different market compensation standards, we compared the input and output of government compensation. The results show that, in 2011 the government should to pay farmers 7462 yuan·ha


Liu S, Min Q, Xu Yet al., 2011. Role of traditional knowledge in forest resources conservation in ethnic areas: A case study on Xiaohuang Village in Congjiang County, Guizhou Province.Resources Science, 33(6): 1046-1052. (in Chinese)The authors chose Xiaohuang, a Dong people community located in Congjiang County, Guizhou Province, as a sample-village. Based on analysis of data from the forestry sector and survey, three village-level forest maps of different periods over the past 60 years were made by the local public through Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA). Quantitative analysis of these maps unravels changes in forest resources from the forest area, and forest species composition and age structure. Results show that: 1) before the 1950s, the forest coverage rate was 89.1%, occupying most of the land in Xiaohuang village. Fengshui wood, water resource conservation forests, fire woods, and distant primeval forest were four major forest types with a large amount of trees over 100 years old. 2) Compared to the 1950s, the area of woodland decreased significantly. Woodland, the most land use of Xiaohuang, turned out to be wasteland between 1958 and the middle 1980s, with old trees rarely existing. 3) After the later 1980s, the wood area progressively increased and the forest coverage rate recovered to 70.03% in 2007. Current forests consist of shelterbelt wood, timber stands forest, economic forests, and firewood forests, while old trees have been replaced by those below 30 years old. Meanwhile, by literature review, field survey, key informant interview, field survey, and the method of weighted average index analysis, major driving factors affecting the forest changes were identified and sorted. The government policy is the factor of primary importance. Dong customary law, religious and traditional knowledge of forest practices is of secondary importance. The traditional ecological knowledge system, which had conducted an abstentious way of forest resources use, has been effective in ensuring the stability and longevity of the agriculture and forestry ecological system. Results of this study also show that the traditional knowledge has a close connection with forest changes. Local worship of old trees and custom of reservation of Fengshui forest and water source woodland played a significant role in forest resources protection, utilization, and management. Under general circumstances, the forest resources that are well protected and developed always mean that the role of traditional knowledge has been fully made use of. But when serious damages in forest resources happen, the role of traditional knowledge is often limited. Therefore, it is necessary to value the traditional ecological knowledge, and further study and evaluation should be conducted in order to balance development and environmental protection.

Liu W, Min Q, Bai Yet al., 2014. Impact of the GIAHS designation to local development and countermeasures.World Agriculture, (6): 89-93. (in Chinese)

Long Z, 2011. The ecological and ethical implications of the Miao people’s common law in Qiandongnan prefecture of Guizhou Province. Journal of Guizhou Ethnic Institute (Philosophy and Social Science Edition), (1): 110-114. (in Chinese)

Lu Y, Wang S, 2013. The history and protection and inheritance of Xinghua raised field. Journal of China Agricultural University (Social Sciences Edition), 30(4): 141-148. (in Chinese)

Min Q, He L, Sun Yet al., 2012. On the value, conservation and sustainable development of GIAHS pilot sites in China.Chinese Journal of Eco-Agriculture, 20(6): 668-673. (in Chinese)Traditional agricultural systems and philosophy are the foundation of modern eco-agriculture. They provide a series of cultural and ecological values/services to mankind and are also multifunctional landscapes with huge potentials for recreation and amenity. As the largest developing country with thousands of years of agricultural history, vast territory and over 65% of the people dwelling in the country side, China has diverse traditional agricultural practices and activities. However, many of the traditional agricultural systems are now under severe threat of globalization and inappropriate government interventions. The disappearance of these important agri-heritage systems and their unique agricultural legacy constitutes loss of future opportunities to enjoy the related environmental and cultural benefits. In order to conserve these systems, a program called “Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)” was initiated by Food and Agriculture Organization of United States (FAO) in 2002. The main objective of GIAHS was the dynamic conservation and adaptive management of traditional agricultural systems. There are already four pilot sites in China, including Qingtian Rice-Fish Culture System in Zhejiang Province, Hani Rice Terraces System in Yunnan Province, Wannian Rice Culture System in Jiangxi Province and Traditional Dong’s Rice-Fish-Duck Agroecosystem in Guizhou Province. There are also two candidate sites, including the Traditional Pu’er Tea Agroecosystem in Yunnan Province and Aohan Dryland Farming System in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. This study depicted the full picture of GIAHS sites in China, including basic information, system value, system threats and proposed conservations. Based on the above analysis, future directions of agri-heritage system conservation were proposed. There existed different GIAHS values, including ecological values, economic values, socio-cultural values, scientific demon-stration values, etc. Ecological values were very important in agri-heritage systems as ecological mechanisms reduced use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in a sustainable manner. Threats to agri-heritage systems, including decrease in comparative advantage, labor outflow and modern development concepts/technology, were also severe. Based on value and threat analysis, the following proposals were suggested regarding conservation of rice-fish culture: 1) utilization of dynamic conservation methods to improve local farmer livelihoods; 2) enhancement, popularization and building of scientific conservation concepts of GIAHS; 3) implementation of conservation planning and formation of sustainable conservation mechanisms; 4) improve-ment of farmer activities and building multi-participatory mechanisms; and 5) building GIAHS brands at all agri-heritage sites to promote GIAHS products and formation of dynamic conservation mechanisms.

Min Q, He L, Zhang D, 2011. Agricultural heritage research in China: Progresses and perspectives.Journal of Resources and Ecology, 2(1): 15-21.One of the legacies of the time honored agricultural development in China has been varied farming practices that adapt well to different natural conditions.These old but still functioning farming systems continue to inspire us to find solutions to various environmental problems caused by so-called modern agriculture.This paper reviewed the studies on agricultural heritage in China,including two categories: document-based researches and practice-oriented researches on dynamic conservation and adaptive management of these traditional agricultural heritages.Studies on the history and archaeological findings about the Chinese traditional agricultural heritage have laid a solid foundation for any further study. Dynamic conservation and adaptive management of agricultural heritage was promoted by the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems(GIAHS)project initiated by FAO in 2002.Until now,researches on the conservation and adaptive management of agricultural heritages have touched on many aspects of the issue,including theoretical consideration of agricultural heritage,agrobiodiversity characteristics of agricultural heritage,multi-values of agricultural heritage dynamic conservation,substitutive industries, legislation and institutionalization for the conservation of agricultural heritage.We conclude the paper with an agenda for future studies on agricultural heritages,including the broadening of the research scope,innovative research methodologies and methods and the development of strategies that combine conservation and utilization of agricultural heritages.


Min Q, Jiao W, Sun Y et al., 2008. Ecosystem services and eco-compensation of traditional agricultural systems: Taking rice-fish culture as an example. In: Min Q (ed.). Agricultural Heritage Systems and Their Dynamic Conservation. Beijing: China Environmental Science Press, 299-310. (in Chinese)

Min Q, Li W, Yang G, 2009a. Rice-fish culture in China. In: Min Q ed. Dynamic Conservation and Adaptive Management of China’s GIAHS: Theories and Practices (I). Beijing: China Environmental Science Press, 37-88.

Min Q, Sun Y, 2009. The concept, characteristics and conservation requirements of agro-cultural heritage.Resources Science, 31(6): 914-918. (in Chinese) Controversies exist in the concept of agro-cultural heritage at present, mainly focusing on its interpretation from English and its exact connotation. The Chinese translation of the concept of agro-cultural heritage systems and Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems(GIAHS) may change along with the process of GIAHS program in the future. GIAHS is about remarkable land use systems and landscapes which are rich in globally significant biological diversity evolving from the co-adaptation of a community with its environment and its needs and aspirations for sustainable development. It lays emphasis on systems, landscape, techniques, knowledge, species, culture and the co-adaptation to local community. Thus, it is quite different from the definition of the previous so-called agricultural heritage in China. To a certain extent, GIAHS shares Cultural Landscape concept, a new heritage category added to the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (World Heritage Convention) in 1992, but GIAHS is more focused on the “combined works of man and nature” and biodiversity conservation. The concept of GIAHS has not positive connection with location and tend to represent intangible systems, while the concept of cultural landscape is definitely about territory. The agro-cultural heritage systems are comprehensive, dynamic and strategic. Therefore, its conservation requires dynamic conservation, adaptive management and sustainable development. GIAHS requires continuous agro-ecological and social innovation combined with careful transfer of accumulated knowledge and experience from generation to generation. Hence, its conservation approach should not be static as is used in museums. It is necessary to build a long-term and self-maintained mechanism for the conservation of GIAHS.

Min Q, Sun Y, Cheng Set al., 2007. Primary study on the features and development of GIAHS’s tourism resources.Economic Geography, 27(5): 856-859. (in Chinese)

Min Q, Sun Y, Shi Y, 2010. GIAHS project and its implementation in China.Journal of Resources and Ecology, 1(1): 94-96.

Min Q, Sun Y, van Schoubroeck Fet al., 2009b. The GIAHS-rice-fish culture: China project framework.Resources Science, 31(1): 10-20.Rice is one of the principal food crops in the world. Over a long history, fish is cultivated in some wet rice fields, either concurrently or rotationally with rice in Asian region. Historical records and archaeological researches showed that China’s rice-fish culture could be traced back to about 2000 years ago. The rice-fish farming system is described not only as one of production style, but also as one of the traditional culture. The rice-fish system provides multifunctional goods and services: food security; quality nutrition and income generation; prevention of malaria; conservation of biodiversity; pest regulation; pollination; carbon and nutrient cycles; soil and water conservation and restoration; and social importance. However, liking many other traditional agricultural practices, rice-fish culture is facing threatens from the impact of rapid economic growth, urbanization and so-called modern agricultural techniques. China is one of the six pilot countries of this initiative, for which Longxian Village, Qingtian County, with its traditional Rice-Fish Culture RFC has been selected as a pilot system to develop a methodology for “dynamic conservation” of agricultural heritage systems. Based on the analysis of the history and general characteristics of the RFC in Qingtian County, the project goals and objectives, the expected outcomes and outputs and related activities were illustrated; different kinds of sustainability including institutional, financial, social and ecological sustainability were analyzed. At last, the implementation and management structure for RFC dynamic conservation and adaptive management was provided.

Min Q, Zhong Q, 2006. The Multi-stakeholder Processes in the Conservation of Agricultural Heritage Systems. Beijing: China Environment Science Press. (in Chinese)

Qiao X, 2007. Flow to inherit the music culture in songs of Dong Ethnic Group. Journal of Northeast Normal University (Philosophy and Social Sciences), (4): 109-114. (in Chinese)Songs of Dong ethnic group occupies a unique position worldwide in terms of varieties of thoughts,voices,chorus,cultural connotation,etc.The style of singing is characterized particularly by its role in cultivating Singers' intelligence and non-intelligence abilities.Nowadays,as the times changes,this tradition is also undergoing some crisis,which necessiates the search for a new way to inheriting the gem of ancient Chinese art.

Rao B, Zhou C, Wang Jet al., 2009. Research on the rational allocation of water resources in Hani terrace irrigation area.Journal of Water Resources and Water Engineering, 20(6): 38-41. (in Chinese)Taking Hani terrace irrigated area in Yuanyang County as a case study,the paper researched rational allocation of water resources.Pointed to the characteristic and problem in the irrigated area,based on analysis to the supply and demand balances of water resources,the rational allocation model of Hani Terrace irrigated area was established and the rational distribution program in different level years and different frequencies was obeained.The studies had shown that the allocation models and methods were feasible and effective,the allocation results was in line with the actual situation of local water use and water characteristics,and the study had certian guiding significance for the eco-environmental protection and sustainable utilization of water resources in Hani Terrace irrigated area.


Ren H, Min Q, Wang Wet al., 2014. Concentration of Aero-Anion and its influence factors in different habitats of Gushan Tea Garden, Fuzhou.Urban Environment & Urban Ecology, 27(1): 1-6. (in Chinese)In this study,the aero- anion concentration and its influencing factors in seven habitats of Gushan Tea Garden were measured. The results indicated that the aero- anion concentrations in seven habitats of the tea garden followed the order of arbors high altitude tea gardens ponds organic tea gardens lawns open spaces conventional tea gardens. The averaged values of aero-anion concentration in these seven habitats were 924,892,770,761, 754,617,601 individual / cm3,respectively. The aero-anion concentration increased significantly with the altitude of observations( 50 ~ 100 cm),and the aero-anion concentration at 150 cm was significantly higher than at 50 cm. The aero-anion concentration had a significantly positive correlation with relative humidity,while the aero-anion concentration was not related to temperature,wind velocity,air pressure and altitude. Overall,the air quality of Gushan Tea Garden was clean. The coefficient of air quality evaluation CI of seven habitats was more than 0. 50 and increased with altitude of measurements.

Ren W, Cao C, Wang J, 2008. Economic valuation of gas regulation as a service by rice-duck-fish complex ecosystem.Ecological Economy, (4): 266-272.

Sun X, Min Q, Bai Yet al., 2014. Analyzing environmental stress counter-measures in agricultural heritage sites in China.Journal of Resources and Ecology, 5(4): 328-334.In recent years, with climate change, many agricultural systems are facing severe environmental stress, which are seriously threatening the food security and sustainable development of agricultural system. Although mainstream agro-system can effectively reduce the adverse agro-production effect rapidly by using modern technology, but many of them bring serious ecological crisis at the same time. For the sustainable development of agro-systems, the stress mitigation options must give full consideration to ecological protection. The Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) sites, relying on its unique land use, water conservancy facilities, traditional crops, etc., form unique production system creating a better match with local natural conditions. Based on disaster mitigation system theory and practice, this paper analyzes environmental stress counter-measures of several GIAHS sites in China. The water requirement of millet, a drought-tolerant crop in Aohan Dryland Farming System (recognized as a GIAHS pilot site in 2012), has a better match with local water conditions. By reducing vulnerability of crops, agriculture survived healthily in semi-arid regions. Honghe Hani Rice Terraces System (recognized as a GIAHS pilot site in 2010), relying on the unique land and water use patterns, has successfully reshape disaster inducing environment, and effectively reduce the risk/effects of droughts. Besides, due to the high price, rich crop diversity and variety of income channel, the Agricultural Heritage sites can ensure the economic income and agro-system health when facing environmental stress. Stress counter-measures of traditional agricultural systems make full use of the regulation and spontaneity ability of the natural system, which is an important way to achieve sustainable development of ecological agriculture.


Sun Y, 2012. Research review on agricultural heritage systems and its tourism development.Journal of Landscape Research, 4(6): 54-58.Concept of agricultural heritage systems was introduced. As a new heritage type, agricultural heritage systems focus on agricultural systems and its related biodiversity, landscape, land use system, traditional agricultural knowledge and experience, practices, and also the relative cultural diversity which make it the best expression of "agricultural heritage systems are not about the past, it ...

Sun Y, Min Q, Cheng Set al., 2006. Relationship between tourism resources development and regional social and economic development in agricultural heritage site: Taking “Traditional Rice-Fish Agriculture” of Qingtian County as an example.Resources Science, 28(4): 138-144. (in Chinese)According to the definition by FAO, Globally Important Ingenious Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS), equaling to world cultural heritage in concept, is “remarkable land use systems and landscapes which are rich in biological dIversity evolving from the ingenious and dynamic adaptation of a community/population to its environment and the needs and aspirations for sustainable development. As a new kind of world heritages, only after 2002 was GIAHS noticed by scientists and managers. Just for this reason the research on it is at the first stage including the tourism development. There are plenty of tourism resources in agricultural heritage sites which will play potential and important roles in regional sustainable development of economy, society, culture and ecoenvironment. Onthe other hand, regional sustainable socioeconomic development will prove the conservation and development of GIAHS sites. In this paper, by literature searching and field investigation in Qingtian County of Zhejiang Province, the first pilot site of GIAHS in China, the authors analyzed the relationship between tourism resources development and regional social and economic development in agricultural heritage site. The result shows that the development of tourism resources Is closely relative to the increase of local GDP, the improvement of local people' life and the employment in tourism and the correlation coefficient are 0.68, 0.83 and 0.81 respectively. In general, tourism development and participatory mechanism increase tourism employment greatly which enlarges the local farmers' views. Tourism employment willingness investigation shows they would like to participate in the tourism activities by tourism products sales, tourists reception in farming houses, play as a guide and so on. Among them, the tourism goods' selling is their favorite one which takes up 62.5% of the whole. At the same time, the relative undeveloped social and economic conditions made large contribution to the conservation of the traditional ricefish agricultural system. Besides, theorganic combination of typical local cultural forms, I.e., religious culture, stone carving culture, famous persons culture, overseas Chinese culture, and field fish culture, lay sound foundation for the local tourism development and overseas Chinese's' support to the hometown construction also provides impetus on tourism, and accelerates the development of tourism resources in Qingtian to a great extent. Therefore, it is very obvious and important to understand the role of tourism development in the dynamic conservation of GIAHS.

Sun Y, Min Q, Cheng S, 2008. Value of the GIAHS-China traditional rice-fish system.Chinese Journal of Eco-Agriculture, 16(4): 991-994. (in Chinese)As one of the initial plot systems of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS), the traditional rice fish system in Qingtian County, Zhejiang Province,plays potential and important roles in regional sustainable development of economy, society, culture and eco-environment. For example, it can increase the production and benefits of agriculture, reduce the cost of agriculture, bring relative economic benefits, keep the ecological balance of the rice field, protect the farmland environment and conserve the biodiversity, etc. At the same time, its social, cultural, scientific and demonstrating values are of great importance for the GIAHS dynamic conservation and adaptive management.

Sun Y, Min Q, Cheng Set al., 2011. The community potential for tourism development in agricultural heritage sites: A case study of Qingtian County.Geographical Research, 30(7): 1341-1350.This paper is Presented based on a program known as "Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems(GIAHS),initiated in 2002 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations(FAO).Five traditional agricultural pilot sites at global scale were selected to be the GIAHS initiatives in 2005,including the Rice-Fish system in Longxian Village of Qingtian County,Zhejiang Province,China.Two new pilot sites were listed by FAO in 2010 and there would be more systems in the inventory in the future.The key objective of the program is to conserve the traditional agricultural systems and its biodiversity and cultural diversity in a dynamic way. Since GIAHS is different from the world cultural heritage and natural heritage and it focuses more on the co-evolution of human beings and nature and the livelihood of the local community,the local participation in the agricultural heritage sites is of great importance to the conservation of agricultural heritage and tourism development.Hence,evaluating the community potential on the agricultural heritage conservation and tourism development in a scientific way is the basis of the dynamic conservation and adaptive management of the GIAHS.By using the structural equation modeling(SEM) approach and establishing the "attitude-behavior" model,this paper tries to assess the community potential in agricultural heritage sites and also to realize the scale change from village level to county level in line with the distance reduction rule,in order to lay the basis for the agricultural heritage dynamic conservation and adaptive management.The study showed: 1) SEM and the "attitude-behavior" model are the new methods of evaluating the tourism community potential in agricultural heritage sites;2) There is an obvious spatial distance reduction of the community potential by GIS assistance;3) The case study indicated that the tourism community potential is high in Qingtian County and the scale change from village level to county level is effective,but obviously,the good perception and attitude do not make sure of the sufficient community participation behavior,and the gap still need to be filled in the development process.


Sun Y, Zhou H, Zhang Let al., 2012. Adapting to droughts in Yuanyang Terrace of SW China: Insight from disaster risk reduction.Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change. doi: 10.1007/s11027-012-9386-2.Despite international focus on how to facilitate adaptation to droughts in a changing climate, a good deal of adaptation will be enacted at the local level. Focusing on the Yuanyang Terrace of SW China (a very famous agricultural heritage site), this study illustrates that land use change, dynamic adaptation and Public-Private Partnership (PPP) are the main measures to reduce the drought disast...


Tian M, Min Q, Lun Fet al., 2015. Evaluation of tourism water capacity in agricultural heritage sites.Sustainability, 7(11): 15548-15569.Agricultural heritage sites have been gaining popularity as tourism destinations. The arrival of large numbers of tourists, however, has created serious challenges to these vulnerable ecosystems. In particular, water resources are facing tremendous pressure. Thus, an assessment of tourism water footprint is suggested before promoting sustainable tourism. This paper uses the bottom-up approach t...


Xia Q, Shen M, 2014. Analysis on reasons for red rice flourishing and its features from Yuanyang terrace: A case study of moon valley.Journal of Anhui Agricultural Sciences, (30): 10826-10828. (in Chinese)

Xie J, Hu L, Tang Jet al., 2011a. Ecological mechanisms underlying the sustainability of the agricultural heritage rice-fish coculture system.PNAS, 108(50): E1381-E1387.For centuries, traditional agricultural systems have contributed to food and livelihood security throughout the world. Recognizing the ecological legacy in the traditional agricultural systems may help us develop novel sustainable agriculture. We examine how rice-fish coculture (RF), which has been designated a "globally important agricultural heritage system," has been maintained for over 1,200 y in south China. A field survey demonstrated that although rice yield and rice-yield stability are similar in RF and rice monoculture (RM), RF requires 68% less pesticide and 24% less chemical fertilizer than RM. A field experiment confirmed this result. We documented that a mutually beneficial relationship between rice and fish develops in RF: Fish reduce rice pests and rice favors fish by moderating the water environment. This positive relationship between rice and fish reduces the need for pesticides in RF. Our results also indicate a complementary use of nitrogen (N) between rice and fish in RF, resulting in low N fertilizer application and low N release into the environment. These findings provide unique insights into how positive interactions and complementary use of resource between species generate emergent ecosystem properties and how modern agricultural systems might be improved by exploiting synergies between species.


Xie J, Liu L, Chen Xet al., 2009. Control of diseases, pests and weeds in traditional rice-fish ecosystem in Zhejiang, China.Bulletin of Science and Technology, 25(6): 801-805.The traditional rice-fish ecosystem is one of the outstanding examples of the globally important agricultural heritages and is a sustainable form of agriculture.By field sampling and controlled experiments,we studied the application of pesticides and occurrence of disease,pests and weeds through the rice production process in the ecosystem.The results obtained from field sampling showed that there is no significant difference of rice grain yield found between the rice monoculture and the traditonal rice-fish coculture.The usage of agrochemicals for disease,pest and weeds control in rice-fish coculture ecosystem was 3.13 0.31 fewer that applied in rice monoculture ecosystem.,and the times of pesticides application in traditional rice-fish coculture was 3.4 less than that in rice monoculture ecosystem.The usage of agrochemicals was significantly negatively correlated with the fish population density in the traditional rice-fish coculture ecosystem.The results from field experiments showed that the rice grain yield in traditional rice-fish coculture ecosystem was significantly higher than that in rice monoculture with chemically control of disease,pests and weeds.The occurrence of diseases,pests and weeds in tradtional rice-fish coculture significantly decreased.

Xie J, Wu X, Tang Jet al., 2011b. Conservation of traditional rice varieties in a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS): Rice-fish co-culture.Agricultural Sciences in China, 10(5): 754-761.The traditional rice-fish farming system is selected as a "globally important agricultural heritage system" (GIAHS) by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),United Nations Development Programme (UNDP),and Global Environment Facility (GEF),etc.In Zhejiang Province of China,where the pilot site for this GIAHS farming system is located,we compared the use of traditional rice varieties in rice-fish co-culture and rice monoculture.Further,we determined how traditional rice varieties were performed in this rice-fish system.Only 19% of the farmers who practiced rice monoculture planted traditional varieties while 52% of farmers who practiced rice-fish co-culture planted traditional varieties.Traditional varieties represented 13% of the total land cultivated under rice in the rice-fish system but only 2% in the rice monoculture system.In the rice-fish system,yield was lower for traditional rice varieties than hybrid varieties but application of fertilizers and pesticides was also lower.In a field experiment in the rice-fish system without pesticides,rice planthopper numbers and sheath blight incidence were lower from three traditional varieties than one hybrid variety;yields were 8 to 32% lower from the traditional varieties than the hybrid.Our results showed that traditional rice varieties can be preserved through conserving GIAHS rice-fish co-culture.Our study also indicated that traditional rice varieties can survive in the rice-fish system because these varieties are helpful to the whole system and beneficial to the farmers.


Xu H, Wang Q, Bai Jet al., 2010. Changes of phosphate and ammonium nitrogen in irrigated waters of Hani terrace wetlands along the elevation gradients.Procedia Environmental Sciences, (2): 1368-1373.ABSTRACT PO3--P and NH4+-N concentrations were measured in the overlaying waters at different elevations in Hani terrace wetlands on the Yunnan plateau of China in December, 2004, in order to study spatial variations in nitrogen and phosphorous concentrations along the elevation gradients under domestic sewage injection in fallow period. Results showed that there were consistent variations in PO3--P and NH4+-N concentrations in both terraces with elevation. They were reduced exponentially with decreasing elevations in both terraces and appeared the maximum at the higher elevations where domestic sewage was injected. The goodness-of-fits of the fitting models were more than 0.90 and 0.85 in MP and QFZ terraces, respectively. The retention rates of NH4+-N and PO3--P from domestic sewage in both terraces in fallow period was 98.7% and 90%, respectively.


Xue D, 2011. The categories and benefit-sharing of traditional knowledge associated with biodiversity.Journal of Resources and Ecology, 2(1): 29-33.A milestone in the Year of Biodiversity is that the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity(CBD)was adopted in the 10th Conference of Parties(COP 10)held in Nagoya,Japan,Oct 18- 29,2010.Traditional knowledge(TK)is a key issue in the Protocol&rsquo;s text and its negotiating period.This paper aimed to protect TK by defining its concepts and categories and promoting benefit-sharing with TK&rsquo;s holders.Based on the analysis for the TK concepts of relevant international organizations and conventions, in particularly on the author&rsquo;s current years&rsquo;research work on TK in the ethnic areas of China,this paper proposes the categories and the classification system for the TK associated with biological resources,i.e. (i)the knowledge for traditional use of agricultural bio-species and genetic resources;(ii)the knowledge for traditional use of medicinal bio-species;(iii)traditional technical innovations for bio-resource use and traditional practices for farming and living styles;(iv)traditional cultures such as customary laws and community protocols that are related to conservation and sustainable use of bio-resources;and(v) traditional geographically biological indicators.Furthermore,this paper introduced the provisions for access and benefit-sharing of TK and proposed to share fairly and equitably the benefits produced from use of TK with indigenous people,local communities and other kinds of holders such as a country for the ancient documented TK.In addition,aimed to the existing problems for traditional knowledge protection,the national strategy for TK protection was introduced and measures for TK inheritance,development,utilization and protection measures were put forward,which are significant for TK&rsquo;s popularization and beneficial to local communities of the ethnic groups in China.


Yang G, Wang B, Bai Y, 2014. Approaches to dynamic protection on traditional agriculture with ancient torreya grandis in Kuaiji Mountain.Hunan Agricultural Sciences, (22): 59-61. (in Chinese)Since its initial introduction in the mid-199000 s, retinotopic mapping of the human visual cortex, based on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), has contributed greatly to our understanding of the human visual system. Multiple cortical visual field

Yang H, Lv Y, Min Qet al., 2009. Energy comparison of rice-fish agriculture and rice monocropping.Resources Research, 31(1): 48-55. (in Chinese)Quantitative evaluation of sustainable development capacity has been concentratedly researched, and development capacity indicators based on the calculation of emergy theory are effective means of evaluation. In order to assess the differences of resource utilization and sustainable development capacity between rice-fish agriculture and rice monocropping, this paper analyzes the input-output characteristics of glutinous rice-fish agriculture (GR-F), glutinous rice monocropping (GR), hybrid rice-fish agriculture (HR-F) and hybrid rice monocropping (HR) in Xiaohuang Village, Congjiang County, Guizhou Province by using emergy analysis methods. The results demonstrate that the emergy-input structures are similar between rice-fish agriculture and rice monocropping. The utilization ratio of renewable resources is lower, while the input of non-renewable industrial secondary resources is too high and input of organic resources is deficient. Comparison between the two different systems shows that in the rice-fish agriculture system: 1) solar conversion ratio is higher; 2) purchased emergy-input per unit natural resources is less; 3) restriction by external markets is minor; 4) return rate of emergy-investment is higher; 5) environmental pressure is smaller; 6) utility ratio of renewable resources is higher and sustainable development capacity is stronger. Rice-fish agriculture is one representative of traditional agriculture sustainable development model in China. The economic basis is rather weak and transport conditions are poor in Congjiang County, where traditional rice-fish agriculture is lacking in technology and competitiveness, while labor costs are high. All of these factors have constrained the sound development of rice-fish agriculture. Obviously, the improvement of solar energy utility ratios and market competitiveness for rice-fish agriculture is a key goal. Local government should optimize the resource utilization structure, contribute to the scientific development of rice-fish agriculture and rely on rational utilization of non-renewable resources, enhance cycling utilization of resources, improve eco-economic benefits and promote harmonious development between human and nature.

Yuan Z, Lun F, He Let al., 2014. Exploring the state of retention of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) in a Hani rice terrace village, Southwest China.Sustainability, 6: 4497-4513.Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) is one of the components of the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS), which are good examples of evolutionary adapted socio-ecosystems in human history. The Hani Rice Terraces System, located in China’s southwestern Yunnan Province, is a living example of GIAHS. The Hani Rice Terraces system has existed for more than one thousand years, following TEK related to cultivation and natural resources management, which was collected and practiced continually. Over this long time period, TEK has enabled the Hani people to manage their terraces and other natural resources in a sustainable way. This paper concentrates on the TEK transferring in the current Hani community, taking a small village, Mitian, as an example. Grouping the interviewees into three different age groups (young group, 0–30 years old; middle-age group, 31–50 years old; old group > 50 years old), we investigated their understanding and participation in 13 items of TEK in relation to rice cultivation and water utilization. The items of TEK were divided into four categories, namely “Festivals”, “Beliefs”, “Folk Songs”, and “Water Management”. From the data collected, it was learned that all the items of TEK are well known, but not necessarily practiced. Age and gender have significant influences on farmers’ understanding and participation in TEK. Our analysis suggested that both the knowledge and the practice showed declining trends from the older to the younger age group. Men and women behave differently in practices. In general, it is shown that TEK is declining in the Hani villages which will affect the rice terrace system in ways that are yet unknown. It is likely that a blended TEK, with old and new knowledge and practices, will emerge to sustain the upland rice terrace systems of Yunnan.


Yuan Z, Min Q, Cheng S, 2013. The smallholder economy for the Hani rice terraces sustaining millennium.Journal of China Agricultural University, 30(4): 133-140. (in Chinese)

Zhang C, Chen L, Zhang Y, 2015. Japanese agricultural heritage system conservation: Multi-stakeholder mechanism and its policy enlightenment.World Agriculture, (12): 108-111. (in Chinese)

Zhang C, Liu M, 2014. Challenges and countermeasures for the sustainable development of Nationally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems in China.Journal of Resources and Ecology, 5(4): 390-394.In 2012 the Ministry of Agriculture of China launched a project exploring Nationally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (China-NIAHS). Through two rounds of applications and selection in 2012 and 2013, 39 traditional agricultural systems were selected and designated as China-NIAHS, including 19 forestry systems, 14 planting systems, four agricultural complex systems and two other systems. From a system origin perspective there were 24 agricultural systems, some dating back 1000 years. Twenty heritage systems are located in areas inhabited by ethnic minorities. Agricultural heritage systems face general challenges, such as ecosystem degradation and destruction, loss and abandonment of traditional agricultural technologies and landscapes, lagging agriculture scale and industrialization, and limited farmer benefit-sharing and incentives. Compared to other types of heritage, the conservation and development of agricultural heritage systems is more complex and difficult. In order to achieve sustainable development of agricultural heritage systems, the government should play a leading role and improve financial support functions. Local people should also explore market-oriented approaches and adaptive management methods on protection and development of NIAHS. Multi-participation and benefit-sharing mechanisms should be established and basic research needs to be strengthened.


Zhang D, Cheng S, Yang Het al., 2011a. Ecological control effects on pest, pathogen and weed of multiple Species coexistence in paddy fields in traditional agricultural regions.Resources Science, 33(6): 1032-1037. (in Chinese)Agriculture has flourished in China since time immemorial. One of the legacies of the time-honored agricultural development in China has been varied farming practices that adapt well to different natural conditions. Value of these traditional practices or models is rediscovered and cherished today when the so-called modern agriculture fails to be sustainable due to a variety of ecological and health problems and risks introduced by modern systems. Among plenty of traditional agricultural practices or models, some ecological principles were revealed, but significant philosophies of other traditional agricultural systems remain unknown. However, the area of traditional agriculture in China is rapidly shrinking. To that end, it is critical to investigating traditional agricultural practices and models. Understanding the role of agrobiodiversity as a contributor to sustainable agriculture, evaluation of its functions was performed in this study. Agrobiodiversity is most likely to enhance ecosystem stability and productivity when a unique or complementary effect is added to the ecosystem. Performing a semi-experiment combined with the random sampling investigation technique, modern and traditional rice varieties in different farming systems were investigated, i.e., 1) rice monoculture (R); 2) rice-fish culture (R-F); and 3) rice-fish-duck culture (R-F-D). Results show that the glutinous rice in every farming system had a lower weed density than that of the hybrid ones. There was no significant difference in the density of rice planthoppers, spider, rice leave roller (<i>Cnaphalocrocis medialis Guenee</i>) between glutinous rice and hybrid ones. The hybrid rice in every farming system had a lower incidence of Blast disease than that of the glutinous ones. Concerning the farming systems, under R-F-D, the weed density in paddy fields decreased significantly, and the control effects on weed species such as <i>Monochoria vaginalis</i> (Burm.f.), <i>Rotala indica</i> (Willd.) Koehne were 100%, with an overall effect higher than other farming systems. Compared with R, under R-F-D, the density of rice planthoppers and rice leave roller decreased significantly, while ducks preyed on spiders, which reduced the number of spiders. R-F-D had a lower incidence of Blast disease than that of other farming systems.

Zhang D, Min Q, Liu Met al., 2011b. Ecosystem service tradeoff between traditional and modern agriculture: A case study in Congjiang County, Guizhou Province, China.Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering, 6(5): 743-752.


Zhang K, Min Q, Xu X, 2011c. Agricultural connotation and conservation measures of traditional Dong villages: A case study on Xiaohuang Village, Congaing County, Guizhou Province.Resources Science, 33(6): 1038-1045. (in Chinese)The Dong people, one of the major ethnic minorities in China, live in the southeast edge of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau which is a junction of Hunan, Guizhou, and Guangxi Provinces. Because of the discommodious traffic and the asperity of the environment, a large number of traditional Dong villages were well-preserved and the influence of the modern culture was obviated. Along with social development, traditional values of Dong villages continue to be expanded and recognized. Dong villages in Qiandongnan (Dong villages in Liudong and Jiudong-Liping County, Congjiang County and Rongjiang County of Guizhou province) have been elected to the reserve list of the world cultural heritage in 2006. Congjiang “rice-fish-duck” system has been elected to the reserve list of “GIAHS” project launched in 2002. Rapid economic and social development will inevitably result in the modernization of traditional Dong. On the other hand, these traditional villages have a strong local characteristic and a wealth of knowledge about local culture. They are valuable asset of humans with a unique living concept, cultural traditions and science and technology, which should be appropriately protected. After long-term agricultural development, Dong villages exhibit the cultural characteristics of agriculture. The agri-cultural connotation of traditional Dong villages were analyzed in this paper. The location of the Dong villages is closely related to the production of the Dong ancestors, e.g., the center of the Dong villages’ structure is the Drum Tower, which is a reflection of traditional forms of social organization, the layout of the village and building construction is affected by the agriculture, and the shape of national construction, decoration and construction process have a close relationship with the agriculture. Development measures of the traditional Dong villages were proposed. It is important to involve the village as a part of the cultural system of agriculture and the holistic protection and to seize the opportunity of “GIAHS” project, for example, considering tourism as the dynamic conservation approach, and improving the livelihood of the local community.

Zhang L, Li F, Cui H, 2014a. Role of traditional agricultural ecosystem on prevention-and-cure agricultural non-point source pollution: A case study of rice-fish-duck symbiotic model in Congjiang County, Guizhou Province.Ecological Economy, 30(5): 131-134.

Zhang Y, Liu M, Min Qet al., 2014b. Environmental adaptability and service functions of Chinese jujube forest ecosystem in Jiaxian County, Shaanxi Province.Arid Zone Research, 31(3): 416-423. (in Chinese)As a long history of agriculture heritage system, Chinese jujube forest ecosystem is significantly affected by human activities and has its own environment conditions, ecosystem services and society requirements. A case study on Chinese jujube forest ecosystem in Jiaxian County, Shaanxi Province was carried out. The environmental adaptability and service function of Chinese jujube were comprehensively analyzed. The results showed that the physiological structure, growth cycle and tolerance of Chinese jujube adapted to the local environment in Jiaxian County, and Chinese jujube could also improve the local environment. Because of the high nutrient content and medical value, Chinese jujube has a huge market requirement, and also brings about the huge economic benefits. Furthermore, the local traditional myths and customs avoided the deforestation there, and Chinese jujube forest ecosystem services significantly the local economic development. The service value of Chinese jujube forest ecosystem in the county, as high as 1.72&times;109 yuan&middot;a-1, was also evaluated. Moreover, the service function, direct economic value and soil conservation of Chinese jujube forest ecosystem were appraised. Apparently, the jujube forest ecosystem in the county has adapted the local natural and social environment, and such adaptability and ecosystem services promoted jointly the development of Chinese jujube forest ecosystem itself.

Zhang Y, Liu M, Min Qet al., 2015. Calculation of price compensation of agriculture products in the period of organic conversion in agricultural heritage sites: Taking paddy rice of Hani terrace in Honghe County of Yunnan Province as an example.Journal of Natural Resources, 30(3): 374-383. (in Chinese)

Zhao L, Xu W, Sun Yet al., 2012. On the conservation of China’s agricultural heritage systems.Chinese Journal of Eco-Agriculture, 20(6): 688-692. (in Chinese)Multi-functionality in agriculture refers to the non-trade benefits of agriculture. In terms of WTO definition, this means benefits other than commerce and food production such as environmental protection, landscape preservation, rural employment, and food security. Due to specific natural conditions and human activities, agri-cultural heritage sites always have fragile ecological environments, rich cultures, undeveloped economies and multi-functionality. This implies that agri-cultural heritage sites have production, ecological, cultural and other functions. The concept of multi-functionality has triggered discussions on agri-cultural heritage systems in China and abroad. There are not only so lots of agri-cultural heritage systems in China but also long agricultural history, and most of which are under severe pressure of modernization and globalization. To promote sustainable agricultural development, international community has attached greater importance to conservation and utilization of agri-cultural heritages. Based on agri-cultural heritage systems and current state in China, this paper analyzed the value and significance of China’s main agri-cultural heritage and offered policy options for the conservation and utilization of agri-cultural heritage. The values of agri-cultural heritage systems in China were discussed from several aspects, e.g., conservation and utilization of traditional plants/animals, agri-technology, animal husbandry and medical technology, agri-customs and agri-landscapes. Based on analysis of values and significance, suggestions on conserving agri-cultural heritage system in China were proposed. These included: 1) establishment of the concept of “conservation” followed by the development of principles for dynamic conservation of agri-cultural heritage system; 2) strengthening of mechanisms and system building with specific attention on custody of agri-cultural heritage conservation and multi-participation system; 3) emphasizing conservation of agri-cultural heritage systems in Socialist New Countryside Construction; 4) building incentive mechanisms with visible importance of agri-cultural heritage system in harmonious community building; and 5) investing more conservation of agri-cultural heritage systems. All the above policy suggestions would foster the conservation and sustainability of utilization agri-cultural heritage system.

Zhao W, Min Q, Cui M, 2011. Wild rice resources in the Lancang watershed and its significance in agricultural heritage protection. Resources Science, 33(6): 1066-1071. (in Chinese)As the wild relatives and ancestor of rice, wild rice is an important basis for rice breeding and biotechnology research. To carry out the program of “Natural Heritage and Ethnic Cultural Diversity Investigation”, an integral part of the project “Scientific Investigation for the Middle and Low Reach of the Lancang River and Greater Shangri-La Region” sponsored by the national Ministry of Science and Technology in China, the research group performed field investigations along the Lancang watershed to study the distribution of wild rice both in 2009 and 2010. Results show that the Yunnan reach of the Lancang watershed was rich in wild plant resources, where 3 types of wild rice were found. However, over the last four decades, under the combined impact of population growth, deforestation, cash crop plantation, weeding, herbal collection, alien species invasion, and hydropower construction, the natural habitats of wild rice were severely damaged, resulting in rapid population reduction or even total extinction. At present, there are in total 31 distribution points, spanning over 11 counties (cities) in 4 prefectures. Taken into account the current situation of wild rice in the Lancang watershed, we put forward some suggestions for conservation as follows: 1) adopting the method of in situ conservation to strengthen habitat protection for better preservation of existing resources; 2) guiding local farmers to take part in wild rice and agricultural biodiversity conservation, improving their awareness by publicity and education; 3) enhancing the harness of alien species by manual control, meanwhile planting more trees, bushes or grasses on the cleared land to inhibit the growth of invasive plants; and 4) channelling wild rice protection into hydropower and dam construction planning, building up a market-oriented mechanism for effective conservation and utilization of wild rice resources. In a word, as a rare germplasm resource, wild rice is of great significance to our agricultural heritage and biodiversity protection. Being a developing country with a huge population, China’s future food security and sustainable development of agriculture will depend greatly on effective protection and reasonable utilization of wild rice resources.

Zhu G, Lu Y, Li Q, 2015. Inheritance and development of traditional ecological farming system in Lake Taihu area under background of modernization: From perspective of agricultural heritage. Journal of Nanjing Agricultural University (Social Science Edition), 15(2): 109-116, 128. (in Chinese)

Zhu Y, Chen H, Fan Jet al., 2000. Genetic diversity and disease control in rice. Nature, 406: 718-722.

Zong L, Jiao Y, Hua Het al., 2014. Vertical changes of soil moisture and water holding capacity of Hani terraces landscape in water conservation forest region.Bulletin of Soil and Water Conservation, 34(4): 59-64. (in Chinese)