This is one of two living cultural landscapes among World Heritage Sites in Southeast Asia, and managing it successfully will require close engagement with the subaks that make up the site. The project focused on Catur Angga Batukaru, which has the largest number of subaks and villages in the World Heritage Site. Conditions are changing rapidly, and centuries-old traditions may not be viable for much longer unless the farmers get the support they need to maintain them.
The farmers of Catur Angga Batukaru, their leaders, their king and the high priest have important roles to play in the management of the World Heritage Site. They are eager to get involved, and they are well prepared, as they have longstanding practices of deliberative and democratic governance, learned through generations of managing their subaks. What they need are effective mechanisms to participate in the site management, and real, sustained attention to their needs, such as an adequate supply of water, and support for organic farming practices.
The project found that the ingredients for a successful farmer-led management system are already in place. The subaks and their leaders, the pekasehs, have set up the Forum Pekaseh Catur Angga Batukaru as a vehicle for their involvement with the World Heritage Site, and codified the rules that bind them together and define their responsibilities.
The project also found that the subaks face several challenges that require prompt attention, including increasing costs of rituals, changing farming practices in favor of intensive production systems, declining availability of family labour for farming, changing occupational preference against farming among the young, declining availability of water, high land taxes, and growing incentives to convert rice paddies to other uses.
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