This research project aims to provide ecosystem-based adaptation measures to strengthen the resilience of rice terrace farming systems in Hani (China) and Ifugao (the Philippines) to climate change, reduce the risk of flood and drought, and enhance existing systems to cope with climate change. Two representative and well-known sites are selected for this study. One major case study is the Hani rice terrace located in Ailao Mountain, in Yunnan, China, which is the upper watershed of the Red River, flowing from China to the South China Sea through Vietnam. Another case study is the Ifugao Rice Terraces in the Philippines, which is recognized as a world heritage site. The project is supported by the Asia Pacific Network for Global Change Research (APN), through a three-year research grant (2011–2013).
The project aims to:
1. Analyze and evaluate the ingenious and indigenous rice terracing system and technologies in the Hani and Ifugao rice terraces, especially in terms of their unique water management system, and combine this with their special ecological functions;
2. Investigate and identify the current water cycle and hydrological processes in the Hani and Ifugao rice terrace watershed and simulate their future change and uncertainty due to climate change;
3. Propose on-site measures to simulate and test adaptation strategies to reduce the variation range of climate change induced flood and water scarcity to cope with future climate uncertainty;
4. Assess costs and benefits of on-site measures for climate change adaptation, and optimize cost-effective adaptation strategies; and
5. Develop training modules for local government officials and communities as well as higher education to devise adaptation strategies for rice terrace in Asia Pacific.
At the end of first year’s field work, recognizing socio-economic changes and their relevance to the sustainability of the terraces, the project’s scope was expand to include issues of development and water management, in order to identify ways to strengthen current development strategies.