The “Cultural Landscape of the Bunong People” has been named to the 2022 World Monuments Watch, as one of 25 heritage sites deemed to be of worldwide significance, critical for the local community, and in urgent need of preservation.
Through the advocacy programme, the World Monument Fund (WMF) appeals for more awareness and support to use heritage preservation as a tool to empower indigenous people, the WMF said in a statement obtained by The Post on March 18.
“The Bunong cultural landscape is composed of agricultural fields, spirit-forests and burial grounds – all living places of social, spiritual, and historical importance linked by religious practices and traditional knowledge.
“The Bunong serve as essential human stewards of this rich cultural landscape through their continuous cultivation of crops and traditional forest management practices,” the statement said.
Prak Neth, chief of the Bunong Indigenous Peoples Association, a local civil society group, said the listing would help make the “Cultural Landscape of the Bunong People” more known to the world.
“We are a small group. When many people get to know this place, it helps us to protect it. It is also important for the knowledge to go to the next generation, so that our children and our grand-children feel proud about their own history.
“This is to keep their history alive. I also feel lucky to have our architecture on the Watch, so other people can see it and our young people can keep it and prevent it from being lost,” he said.
WMF CEO Benedicte de Montlaur said: “Saving irreplaceable cultural heritage has never been more important.
“The daunting global challenges facing heritage in the twenty-first century require innovative, sustainable, and replicable solutions,” she said.
The WMF noted that the Watch is announced biennially and is sponsored by American Express. “The programme has been a proven tool for raising awareness of sites in need of protection and galvanising action and support for their preservation.”
“To date, WMF has contributed more than $110 million toward projects at more than 300 Watch sites, with the visibility provided by the Watch helping communities leverage an additional $300 million from other sources,” it said.