We are engaging in educational efforts aimed at the general public and the media. Our first educational project was in collaboration with UNESCO, for which we wrote the educational booklet Sharing a World of Difference: The Earth’s Linguistic, Cultural, and Biological Diversity. Currently, we are focused on the development of a school curriculum in collaboration with elementary and high school students and teachers.
Terralingua’s Voices of the Earth project supports Indigenous Peoples’ efforts to document and revitalize their oral traditions. Keeping oral traditions alive contributes to strengthening indigenous identities and helps ensure that indigenous worldviews, values, beliefs, knowledge, and practices are transmitted to the younger generations. We have partnered with two Canadian First Nations, the Saanich (W̱SÁNEĆ) People of Coastal British Columbia (BC) and the Chilcotin (Tsilhqot’in) People of the BC Interior.
We wrote down the lessons we learned from studying 45 biocultural diversity conservation projects from all over the world, and have published them in the book Biocultural Diversity Conservation: A Global Sourcebook (L. Maffi and E. Woodley, Earthscan, 2010), which make these lessons available to all those who want to learn more about these efforts and their global significance. We also created the companion portal Biocultural Diversity Conservation: A Community of Practice.
We have fostered the development of policies that recognize the vital importance of the diversity of life in nature and culture, and promoting action to implement that recognition at international and national levels. Terralingua had a significant presence at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) 4th World Conservation Congress, held in Barcelona in October 2008, We co-sponsored three resolutions: “Integrating Culture and Cultural Diversity into IUCN’s Policy and Programme”; “IUCN Adoption of Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”; and “Recognition and Conservation of Sacred Natural Sites in Protected Areas”, all of which were adopted by the IUCN Members’ Assembly.
How do we know what is happening with global biocultural diversity, and particularly with the world’s languages and stores of traditional environmental knowledge (TEK)? How do the trends in persistence or loss of languages and TEK compare with the trends in biodiversity? To answer these critical questions, we first developed a global Index of Biocultural Diversity and then the following projects: Index of Linguistic DiversityVitality Index of Traditional Environmental Knowledge These tools allow for an assessment of the state of biocultural diversity at different scales, from the local to the national to the global. These tools provide critical information for biocultural-friendly policy making and conservation, and can assist local efforts at biocultural revitalization
Through our research, which we initiated through a collaboration with WWF-International and have continued through a partnership with the University of Florida, we have mapped the overlaps in the global distributions of biodiversity and cultural diversity, and have identified “core areas” of biocultural diversity: regions that are highly diverse in both nature and culture.