Journal of Geographical Sciences

, Volume 26, Issue 7, pp 969–982 | Cite as

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

  • Qingwen Min
  • Yongxun Zhang
  • Wenjun JiaoEmail author
  • Xueping Sun


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.


Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) China Nationally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (China-NIAHS) dynamic conservation sustainable development China 


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Copyright information

© Institute of Geographic Science and Natural Resources Research (IGSNRR), Science China Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qingwen Min
    • 1
  • Yongxun Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wenjun Jiao
    • 1
    Email author
  • Xueping Sun
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchCASBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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