It’s Official: the Balinese SUBAK Cultural Landscape now UNESCO World Heritage

Tuesday, 3 July 2012 | 3352

After a twelve years’ wait,  finally on Friday, 29 July 2012 UNESCO in its meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, officially recognized the Balinese Subak Ricefields Irrigation Cultural Landscape as UNESCO World Heritage.

Chairperson of UNESCO World Heritage Committee, Eleonora Valentinovna Mitrofanova officially announced that the Balinese Subak has now been entered in the World Heritage List, after presentation and recommendations made by the International Council of Monuments and Sites  (Icomos), read by Susan Deyes, reports Kompas from Russia.  

As an integrated landscape of cultural values, community organisation and unique religious system, Subak is the one and only such organisation in South East Asia, owned by the Balinese since the 11th century and preserved even until today. This proves the importance of the Subak that has provided welfare for the community, Deyes said.

Nevertheless, Icomos reminds the Balinese that there are threats to the existing system, among which are the use of fertilizers which will reduce water quality, the depletion of forests to preserve water, and pressures from tourism, besides ricefields being sold to build tourist facilities.

Wiendu Nuryantie, Deputy Minister for Education and Culture of Indonesia, expressed Indonesia’s pride and happiness at the decision to include the SUBAK Cultural Landscape in the UNESCO World Heritage List. “The Subak is vital for the Balinese community and remains one of the few ancient legacies that are still preserved until this day”.

It is the Subak system that has created and maintained the beautiful green terraced ricefields of Bali.

Meanwhile, Director for Internal Values and Cultural Diplomacy, Etty Indirati, admits that preserving the Subak is no easy matter since this means the need to preserve and continue the traditional community organisation, related cultural values, land use, water quality and water levels as a total integrated entity. “We need to preserve the Subak system from upstream to downstream as well as its total environment.

The decision to make Subak a UNESCO World heritage was seconded by Malaysia, India, Swiss, Mexico, Cambodia, Germany and Japan, while a number of delegations admired the Subak system as one of local wisdoms to preserve the environment and build sustainble development.

The Subak was proposed by Indonesia since the year 2000, the Subak landscape to include the Pura Subak Danau Batur, the Batur Lake, Subak Pakerisan, Subak Catur Angga Batukaru and Pura (temple) of Taman Ayun.

The nomination of the Subak was entitled : “The Balinese Subak Culture, inspired by the Balinese philosophy of Tri Hita Karana”.

Tri Hita Karana is the fundamental philosophy to create and maintain balance in life that must be implemented with good relations between man and God, between man and his fellow human beings, and bettween man and his natural environment.

Attending the UNESCO Conference in St. Petersburg were local government officials from the districts of Badung and Gianyar wearing their best Balinese constumes, who immediately stood up at the acceptance of the Subak as World Heritage.

(Source: Kompas)