Sustainability of rice landscapes in South East Asia threatened

Jul 09, 2012
This shows rice terraces at Batad, Banaue district, Philippines (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Credit: L. Penev

During a meeting in Banaue, The Philippines, scientists from 21 research institutions from Germany, Vietnam, The Philippines, Thailand, UK, Bulgaria and Spain raised several concerns on the future of the rice ecosystems in South East Asia. The meeting was organized within the framework of the international project LEGATO that deals with the multiple risks for rice ecosystems arising from various aspects of global change.

"Threats to sustainable rice production are diverse and come from different directions. Global change is a very important threat, but certainly not the only one. Human mistakes and political neglect can be even more dangerous", said Dr Joachim Spangenberg from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Germany. "For example, the unique rice terraces in Banaue, The Philippines (), and in Sapa, Vietnam, are endangered because the local farmers are not properly credited for their maintenance. The terraces attract an increasing attention of the touristic industry, which should pay back to the farmers on whom its very existence depends!", added Dr Spangenberg.

"The misuse of pesticides in rice production destroys the natural biocontrol mechanisms. Farmers are used to spray their fields, often under the advice of local pesticide retailers, at a too early stage after planting. These sprays create favorable conditions for pests, such as the brown rice hopper. They insert their eggs into the rice stems and are protected from the pesticides that kill off instead their , such as and egg ." commented Dr KL Heong, a principal scientist at the Institute (IRRI) in Los Banos, The Philippines.

Initiatives have been started in the Banaue Valley to restore abandoned former terrace areas. Credit: J. Settele

"It is not sufficient, and may even be considered as a completely outdated practice, to view the rice production only within the perspective of its quantitative growth. The fundamental idea of the LEGATO project is to advance long-term sustainable development of irrigated rice fields, in a harmony with the surrounding landscapes, biodiversity and cultural heritage of the local communities" concluded the project leader Dr Josef Settele from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Germany.

Explore further: NOAA's Marine Debris Program reports on the national issue of derelict fishing traps

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Rice Institute calls for cuts in pesticide use

Dec 16, 2011

Rice farmers should cut the use of pesticides that kill the natural predators of the planthopper, one of the most destructive pests of the key crop, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has said.

Philippines rice terraces off endangered list: UN

Jun 27, 2012

The Philippines' ancient rice terraces, carved into mountains like giant green stairs, have been removed from a UN list of endangered world heritage sites, the UN office in Manila said Wednesday.

Research required urgently to control planthopper pests

Jun 23, 2008

[B]June 23-25 conference to address major threat to Asian rice production[/B] A small insect that has devastated millions of hectares of rice in southern China and Vietnam over the past few years—causing the loss of tho ...

Climate change threatens rice production

Oct 16, 2009

Once-in-a-lifetime floods in the Philippines, India's delayed monsoon, and extensive drought in Australia are taking their toll on this year's rice crops, demonstrating the vulnerability of rice to extreme weather.

Green: The new color of rice

Dec 02, 2011

Rice consumers worldwide can now look forward to eating "green" rice with the launch of an initiative that will set environmentally sustainable and socially responsible rice production management standards.

Recommended for you

The devastating spread of the mountain pine beetle

1 hour ago

When the mountain pine beetle began blazing a path across forests in British Columbia and Alberta, nobody could have imagined the extent of the damage to come. But as the insect devastated pine forests and ...

User comments : 0