Biocultural diversity: diversity of life in all its manifestations- biological, cultural and linguistic
– which are all interrelated within a complex socio-ecological adaptive system.
The cultural and spiritual meaning of nature in South Africa is poorly recorded and often misunderstood. Natural resources have come to be viewed as a "safety net" for poor people around the world who rely on wild plants for food, fuel, medicines, construction material etc. Very often, however, their daily utilitarian use belies a deeper significance that is seldom probed and recorded. Many traditional cultural practices regularly use wild plants, making nature inseparable from cultural identity. In our modernizing world cultural practices are threatened by the loss of biodiversity, and, conversely, the cultural value of many plants, forests and animals could be used as an argument to support the conservation of biodiversity.
The bio-cultural diversity conservation programme aims to:
- Develop systematic approaches to study and document the myriad of links between cultural and biological diversity.
- Contribute to the theoretical debates around bio-cultural diversity
- Develop education programs to raise awareness around the "inextricable" link between cultural diversity and biodiversity.
- Promote and monitor the use of cultural values as a tool to implement biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of the environment.
- Contribute to the formulation of both international and national policies around bio-cultural diversity.
"There is an inextricable link between cultural and biological diversity"
(Declaration of Belem 1988)
"Culture and nature have co-evolved over time to become intertwined and mutually dependent. We lose one, and we lose the other."
Martin, G. 2008. Restoring resilience. Resurgence 250: 13-15.