Documenting Biocultural Diversity

There’s little doubt that we’re in the midst of a “converging extinction crisis” of the biocultural diversity of life. With not only the variety of species and the health of ecosystems in steep decline around the globe, but also the world’s languages and cultures increasingly at risk, a lot of efforts around the world are going into “saving” diversity.

We at Terralingua believe that the best way to “save” the biocultural diversity of life is to ensure that it does not get depleted in the first place; that is, to ensure that cultures, languages, species, and ecosystems remain as vital and thriving as possible. But we also recognize that, when losses have already been significant, efforts to rescue and restore what was lost are of the essence.

In the case of endangered languages and cultural traditions — including traditional relationships with the land — documentation is definitely a crucial step toward revitalization and reaffirmation. That’s the philosophy with which we undertook our Voices of the Earth project. And that’s also why we’ve put together a few handy resources to illustrate some of the approaches that can be taken to help document oral traditions and traditional knowledge.

Here, you can download some of these resources: Documenting and Revitalizing Oral Traditions (Vol. 4 of our 5-volume digital primer, the Biocultural Diversity Toolkit), and an issue of our flagship publication, Langscape Magazine, devoted to the theme of “Breaking the Language Barrier: A Biocultural Approach to Documenting Oral Literature.” We’ll be adding more resources in the near future, so keep checking this page!