The Book

To Learn More About Biocultural Diversity Conservation…

BookWe wrote Biocultural Diversity Conservation: A Global Sourcebook (Earthscan, 2010) as a comprehensive source of information for researchers, professionals, policy makers, indigenous and other local organizations, international agencies and non- governmental organizations (NGOs), funders, media and others. It is the very first resource of its kind.

The material we present in this volume is the outcome of a project carried out over several years by Terralingua, with support from The Christensen Fund. In the course of this project, we conducted a worldwide survey to identify a representative sample of projects that take an integrative approach to sustaining cultures and biodiversity. We were especially interested in projects initiated and conducted by indigenous and local communities, or else jointly planned, led and managed by these communities and external agents (such as governments, international organizations, or NGOs). The 45 projects we selected are ones that recognize the fundamental link between local languages, ecological knowledge, cultural practices, and biodiversity, and that apply this recognition to the design of sustainable solutions to environmental and social problems.

By looking at these examples, we wanted to understand what works where, when, why, and how in biocultural diversity conservation, and what improvements can be made in how we do the work of conservation. In writing this book , we aimed to foster experience sharing and mutual learning among those who are involved in applying a biocultural approach to on-the-ground action, and to ensure that the lessons learned would be accessible to a wider audience. We sought to give greater visibility to this emerging paradigm, and to promote greater understanding, appreciation and adoption of a biocultural perspective.

As Gonzalo Oviedo—IUCN Senior Adviser on Social Policy, and author of the book’s foreword—points out, the international community has reasons to worry about biodiversity: the 2010 target for achieving “a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on Earth” was not met. And, he adds, this book provides a clue as to why such objectives are so hard to reach:

“As it is known to biologists, diversity contributes to ecosystems’ resilience – and there are growing indications that the same applies to human cultures. As the prevailing economic models and political systems continue to promote standardized, homogeneous responses to the needs and challenges of development and conservation, we lose diversity. We also lose resilience, as many people find themselves increasingly alienated from their cultural strengths – the knowledge and practices for survival and adaptation accumulated through generations. Policies and practices that better understand the profound links between nature and culture, and the value of diversity for resilience, can support creativity, encourage better-adapted responses and empower people to value their identity and knowledge.”

Biocultural Diversity Conservation: A Global Sourcebook addresses this fundamental need for new policies and practices. In this book, we review the theory of biocultural diversity and why it is relevant for conservation. We then present and analyze the 45 projects, highlighting their methodological diversity. This variety of approaches to biocultural diversity conservation, adapted to different contexts, reflects the biocultural diversity of life itself. It confers individual and collective strength to these integrated conservation efforts. In our analysis of the projects, we look at the factors that foster or threaten the integrated conservation of biological and cultural diversity. Drawing from the projects, we provide lessons learned and recommendations for how to further develop and strengthen the biocultural approach to conservation.

We offer this book, and the related “conversation” that takes place on this portal, as our contribution to the emerging movement toward achieving true sustainability on earth: biocultural sustainability.

– Luisa Maffi and Ellen Woodley

To order this book, please visit our Terralingua Ubuntu Market.

Global Sourcebook News

Luisa Maffi interviewed by National Geographic

During the 12th International Congress of Ethnobiology (May 2010), Terralingua Director Luisa Maffi was interviewed by National Geographic News editor David Braun on biocultural diversity and our book Biocultural Diversity Conservation.

You can find the news item, the video of the interview, and other relevant resources at the following link: click here

Global Sourcebook Reviews >>

From the book’s foreword:
‘This book represents a culmination of the already extensive contributions that the authors have made… From presenting the conceptual issues in a solid but accessible manner, to researching examples of biocultural practices worldwide, to extracting lessons that others can benefit from, their work is filling a critical gap of knowledge and policy.’
Gonzalo Oviedo, Senior Adviser on Social Policy, IUCN
From the book’s jacket:
‘This book is a treasure trove of the many approaches that have been taken by the world’s diverse cultures to maintain the biological systems upon which they depend. This invaluable resource will certainly find great utility in all parts of the world and among many disciplines.’
Jeffrey A. McNeely, Senior Science Advisor, IUCN
‘This book will truly make a difference in the world. It represents a key milestone in our global understanding of the profound and inextricable links between cultural and biological diversity. Written by two of the leading lights in this new and growing field, it is filled with important information, case studies and analyses on a global scale.’
Nancy J. Turner, University of Victoria, Canada
‘At long last: an authoritative guide to biocultural conservation. This is a splendid illumination of the intermingled diversity of culture and nature … revealing and revolutionary.’
Thomas E. Lovejoy, Biodiversity Chair, The Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, USA
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