Green power to help save famed Philippine terraces

MANILA - Revenue from a small hydropower plant that cost little more than a supercar to build, will help preserve 2,000-year-old Philippine rice terraces dubbed the “Eighth Wonder of the World”, conservationists say.

By (Reuters)

Published: Fri 22 Jan 2010, 9:44 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 3:39 AM

The crumbling ricefields that follow the contours of the mountains in northern Ifugao province and resemble a stairway are slowly being eroded by bad weather and limited upkeep.

On Friday, Philippine officials were handed the symbolic keys to the $1 million 200-kilowatt hydropower plant, which will meet 18 percent of the province’s power needs.

It is projected to generate $70,000 in annual revenue for the Rice Terrace Conservation Fund, aimed at shoring up the famed ricefields that have been on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in danger since 2001.

“Many are abandoning the terraces. It’s not economically feasible to plant rice because the farmers’ land holdings are small,” Carmelita Buyuccan, head of planning and development at the Ifugao provincial office, told Reuters.

Many of the farmers’ children, after earning their college diplomas, also choose to either work in the city or overseas for better pay, added Buyuccan.

The hydropower plant was donated by e8, a non-profit organisation consisting of 10 leading electricity firms from the G-8 countries that was also behind the first solar panels in Tuvalu and the first wind turbines on the Galapagos Islands.

Halting the deterioration of the terraces would require $400,000 a year, according to a 2004 study by Tokyo Electric Power Co 9501.T>, and project proponents hope the revenue from the power plant would inspire other donors.

Work would include restoring damaged terrace walls and rehabilitating the irrigation system, officials said.

A 10-year project that would go beyond and improve the condition of the terraces would require $11.8 million, said Yoshihiro Hatano, general manager at TEPCO.

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