Legislation regulating protection and development

Published: 05 October 2020
Last edited: 05 October 2020

Previous to the inscription in the WH List, from 2000 to 2013, the HHTR World Heritage Administration and the Yuanyang Management Committee for World Heritage HHTR enacted a modern law and regulatory system to promote the sustainable development of the rice terraces based on local customary laws, such as regulations on forest protection and water resources use. They have drafted local laws, regulations and administrative measures. At the same time, they nominated the site to be protected at national level. They formulated conservation and management plans which were announced by the State Council and provincial people’s government so it could be incorporated into the national legal protection system. This would allow them to obtain State financial support. While using and maintaining the customary laws and village regulations, the conservation and management of the rice terraces are conducted according to the law and are gradually being integrated into the modern legal framework.


Legal and policy frameworks, policy advocacy
Scale of implementation
Phase of solution
Planning phase
Inception phase
Review phase

Enabling factors

  • Modern management is integrated with community-based traditions through the setup of specialized conservation offices. These are complementary to the traditional social organization.
  • A clear understanding of the current state of conservation of the rice terraces and the management system through on-site research and work.
  • Issue of the Rules of Procedure and signing of the Target Responsibility which merged the traditional and modern conservation and law systems in China.

Lessons learned

  • The enactment of laws and regulations is conducive to the long-term protection of the rice terraces. It is also the challenge and opportunity for the integration of traditional customary law in the minorities’ remote areas and the modern legal system under a new dual social structure combining traditional and modern management system, which exist in parallel at different levels and have not been integrated.
  • In the context of the new dual social structure, the traditional community-based organization comprising “Migu-Mopi” (persons in charge of religious affairs and artisans, ditch diggers and forest rangers) is inadequate for the increasingly complex and rapidly changing modern society, as well as  the maintenance and development of the rice terraces. There is an urgent need to integrate with  the modern administrative system and carry out an innovative management of the rice terraces.
  • Raising awareness of cultural laws and regulations needs to be undertaken among local communities. This could reduce difficulties and management costs, improving conservation efficiency.

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