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Across the world based on diverse natural resources available, specific agricultural systems and landscapes have been created, shaped and maintained by generations of farmers and herders using locally adapted management practices. The evolution of humankind, the diversity of its knowledge, and its profound relationship with nature is reflected in these systems. Building on local knowledge and experience, these ingenious agricultural systems have resulted in outstanding landscapes, maintenance and adaptation of globally significant agricultural biodiversity, indigenous knowledge systems and resilient ecosystems. Principally the outcome has been in the sustained provision of multiple goods and services, food and livelihood security for millions of poor and small farmers.

In order to safeguard and support the world’s agricultural heritage systems, in 2002 FAO started an initiative for the dynamic conservation of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage systems (GIAHS). The GIAHS initiative has project interventions in Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Chile, China, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic), Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Tunisia, and Turkey. In these countries, adaptive management approaches will be developed and implemented, to assist national and local stakeholders in the dynamic conservation of their agricultural heritage systems.

GIAHS Vision

The GIAHS initiative promotes public understanding, awareness, national and international recognition of Agricultural Heritage systems. Looking to safeguard the social, cultural, economic and environmental goods and services these provide to family farmers, smallholders, indigenous peoples and local communities, the initiative fosters an integrated approach combining sustainable agriculture and rural development.


Agricultural Heritage Systems can be found worldwide. These systems are rich in agricultural biodiversity and associated wildlife, and are important resources of indigenous knowledge and culture.

In the selected GIAHS sites a conservation programme based on adaptive management is in place. This programme is based on the search for economic viability of the system, the identification of environmentally sustainable strategies in the face of growing climate change, and the empowerment of small holder/traditional family farming and indigenous communities.

List of GIAHS designated and potential sites