Biocultural Diversity2022-02-04T11:37:57+00:00

Biocultural Diversity Programme  

Biocultural Diversity

Biodiversity, culture and language are deeply intertwined. An understanding of and respect for these relationships is embedded deeply within the beliefs of most Indigenous Peoples and local communities around the world and reflected in the way they interact with and as part of nature.

Monocultural approaches – from the way humans grow their food to the way we educate our children to the languages we speak – have profoundly altered the planet’s ecological integrity. 

Image: The Indigenous Partnership for Agrobiodiversity and Food Sovereignty

Our programme aims to support Indigenous Peoples and local communities to revive, regenerate, celebrate and protect: 

Sacred natural sites and rituals.

Languages and the ancestral environmental knowledge held within them.

Indigenous, locally adapted seed and food systems.

* Images (L to R): eGuide Travel (CC BY 2.0), The Christensen Fund, Shutterstock

“From mountains to rivers, forest groves to coral reefs, springs to wetlands, sacred natural sites are places of special cultural, ecological and spiritual significance, embedded in the territories of indigenous communities. The traditional custodians of these sites – select elders within the community or clan – are central to their protection and responsible for ceremonies to maintain the health of the ecosystem and the community.”

Gaia Foundation

Image: Moss/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Spotlight on Papua New Guinea

Despite occupying just one per cent of the world’s landmass, Papua New Guinea is home to the world’s third largest tract of contiguous rainforest and over five per cent of the world’s plant and animal species, an astonishing two-thirds of which live nowhere else on the planet. Papua New Guinea is home to some of the most diverse and ancient human cultures in the world; around 800 languages are spoken within its borders.

From the Meakambut hunter-gatherers of the Karawari Caves (the largest known underground cave system in the southern hemisphere) to the Asaro “Mudmen” of the Eastern Highlands to the Chambri Tribe, or “Crocodile Men” of the Sepik River, all of these cultures have a long and deep physical and spiritual connection with nature. Indeed, it is impossible to separate these cultures from the nature of which they are a part.

The persistence of such cultural diversity, combined with the fact that 97 per cent of the land has traditionally been held under customary tenure, explains why ecosystems and biodiversity have remained so diverse and intact.

Image: Jonathan E. Shaw (CC BY-NC 2.0)