“Huerta de València” designated as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System
27 November 2019
The Scientific Advisory Committee of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) officially recognised the historic irrigation system of the Huerta de Valencia as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS) at its 11th meeting held in Rome from 11-14 November 2019.
GIAHS are outstanding landscapes of aesthetic beauty that combine agricultural biodiversity, resilient ecosystems and a valuable cultural heritage. Located in specific sites around the world, they sustainably provide multiple goods and services, food and livelihood security for millions of small-scale farmers.
“Recognition of the Huerta as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System is an important step for us,” said Lidia García, Agri-food Programme Officer, Innovation Centre in Valencia City Council. “The peri-urban farmland has more than 3000 years of history and there is so much value in the landscape, knowledge and culture there, not only for the farmers and residents but for the whole metropolitan area.”
The Huerta de Valencia is one of the last six peri-urban orchards in Europe. The ditch network and traditional water infrastructure, which distributes water from the Turia River, have historically contributed to stabilising water supply and use, allowing the sustainable and continuous use of agricultural land. The area’s traditional ‘Water Court’, where local disputes over irrigation are settled, is the only one of its kind in the world and is recognised by UNESCO as intangible World Heritage.
Through the ARCH project, Valencia plans to benefit from increased knowledge and understanding of the environmental, social and economic functions of the Huerta as it relates to the urban and peri-urban areas, for example through scientific analysis of the role of the Huerta in climate resilience for the greater Valencia area.
“We are very vulnerable to climate change, mainly related to torrential rain, drought and heat waves,” said García. “Addressing this is very important for the city, and for this we need to better understand how the Huerta and the city can work together to be resilient to climate change.”