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Sunday, February 8, 2015

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51 Unbelievable Photos Of The 2,000-Year-Old Philippine Rice Terraces

For at least two millennia, the Ifugao people have sculpted the sides of mountains into useable farmland. Located in the heart of the Cordillera mountain range in the northern Philippines, these rice terraces rise like wide, monumental staircases. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) added these feats of ancient engineering to its list of World Heritage Sites in 1995. According to UNESCO, the Philippine rice terraces “create a landscape of great beauty that expresses the harmony between humankind and the environment.”

The terraces, however, also epitomize the story of how modern tensions are putting a strain on that “harmony” worldwide. Yes, natural disasters and the perennial typhoons that lash the Philippines threaten the preservation of the Cordillera rice terraces. But the biggest pressure they face is a shift in human society. As the UNESCO advisory body has written, “the terraced landscape is highly vulnerable because the social equilibrium that existed in the rice terraces for the past two millennia has become profoundly threatened by technological and evolutionary changes.”

Young Ifugao are migrating to the cities where they can find higher paying, less backbreaking work. At the same, the once remote region is becoming more interconnected through large investments in infrastructure. In the next two years, the Philippine government plans to spend around $25 million in road construction and improvement in the Cordillera region.


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