Neither Rice Terraces of Sapa, Lao Cai province nor Mu Cang Chai, Yen Bai provice of Vietnam, but The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras were the first “cultural landscape” to make the UNESCO World Heritage List.
“When I first saw this photo, I thought it was a natural landscape. Then I noticed the striped trenches cascading down the hills like green waves and realized I was looking at something manmade. It seemed like a stunning landscape design, a clash between hill and sea. But this isn’t some grand piece of public artwork. It’s a rice field.” Ilana Strauss wrote on treehugger.com.
Perhaps any Vietnamese person would have known that, but I’m from Illinois. Cornfields do not look like this. Cornfields are overgrown carpets from sky to sky. (No offense, corn. You didn’t choose this life for yourself.) But these rice paddies? They’re worth staring at.
The Internet tells me these so-called “terrace steps” keep water on the hill, rather than at the bottom of it, making it easier to water the rice and saving water. Pretty cool technique, huh? The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras were the first “cultural landscape” to make the UNESCO World Heritage List.
“For 2,000 years, the high rice fields of the Ifugao have followed the contours of the mountains,” says UNESCO. “The fruit of knowledge handed down from one generation to the next, and the expression of sacred traditions and a delicate social balance, they have helped to create a landscape of great beauty that expresses the harmony between humankind and the environment.”
By Ilana Strauss