Subak system and rice paddies

Subak system and rice paddies

The Balinese water system I previously wrote about in Balinese Water Temples: Modern Agriculture Run Amuck have been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. The listing officially is: Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy. I am so thankful that the people benefitting from the Subak water management system were able to resist its total destruction as modern agricultural “experts” attempted to destroy it. But, once again, a traditional agricultural system has been proven to be far superior to the modern approach that dumps massive toxins onto the land and completely disrupts delicate ecological systems that had been working well for centuries.

The description from the UNESCO web site is:

Cultural Landscape of Bali: the Subak System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy forms a cultural landscape of five rice terraces and their water

Bali rice paddy landscape

Bali rice paddy landscape

temples that cover 19,500 hectares. The temples are the focus of a cooperative water management system of canals and weirs, known as subak, that dates back to the 9th century. Included in the landscape is the 18th-century Royal Temple of Pura Taman Ayun, the largest and most impressive architectural edifice of its type on the island. The subak reflects the philosophical concept of Tri Hita Karana, which brings together the realms of the spirit, the human world and nature. This philosophy was born of the cultural exchange between Bali and India over the past 2000 years and has shaped the landscape of Bali. The subak system of democratic and egalitarian farming practices has enabled the Balinese to become the most prolific rice growers in the archipelago despite the challenge of supporting a dense population.

Let us hope that the Subak system is able to fully recover from the assault of the “green” revolution that almost destroyed it. It has survived, but is not fully back.


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