Biodiversity


Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Global Environmental Change
Erik Gómez-Baggethun, Esteve Corbera, and Victoria Reyes-García (guest eds)
Ecology and Society special feature 18(4), 2013

This special feature of Ecology and Society addresses two main research themes. The first one concerns the resilience of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and the conditions that might explain its loss or persistence in the face of global change. The second theme relates to new findings regarding the way in which TEK strengthens community resilience to respond to the multiple stressors of global environmental change. Those themes are analyzed using case studies from Africa, Asia, America and Europe. Theoretical insights and empirical findings from the studies suggest that despite the generalized worldwide trend of TEK erosion, substantial pockets of TEK persist in both developing and developed countries. A common trend on the studies presented is hybridization, where traditional knowledge, practices, and beliefs are merged with novel forms of knowledge and technologies to create new knowledge systems. The findings also reinforce previous hypotheses pointing at the importance of TEK systems as reservoirs of experiential knowledge that can provide important insights for the design of adaptation and mitigation strategies to cope with global environmental change. Based on the results from papers in this feature, the guest editorial also discusses policy directions that might help to promote maintenance and restoration of living TEK systems as sources of social-ecological resilience. Read the issue [open access] …

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants
Robin Wall Kimmerer
Milkweed Editions, 2013 | ISBN: 978-1-57131-335-5

Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist and mother, Kimmerer shows how other living beings—asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass—offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices. In a rich braid of reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgement and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. Further information …

Bioprospecting under the Nagoya Protocol: a conservation booster?
Claudio Chiarolla et al
IDDRI Policy Brief no 14/2013

Some proponents of access and benefit sharing (ABS) mechanisms believe that bioprospecting, if better regulated under ABS legislation and the Nagoya Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), will incentivize and fund biodiversity conservation. By combining economic and legal analysis, the authors of this brief challenge this view. First, the Nagoya Protocol was not primarily designed to conserve biodiversity. Second, the provisions that call upon the Parties to allocate the advantages arising from bioprospecting towards the conservation of biodiversity are hortative in nature. Nevertheless, beyond its relatively narrow focus on the utilization of genetic resources and associated tradition knowledge, the Nagoya Protocol can be helpful to empower stakeholders, whose rights, duties and responsibilities are crucial for the conservation of biodiversity. Read the brief …

World Heritage no. 69: Agricultural landscapes
UNESCO World Heritage Centre, October 2013

Agricultural landscapes are a testimony to humanity’s long interaction with the land, often unique examples of people and nature co-existing and influencing each other. They demonstrate a rich cultural and landscape diversity, sustainable land-use systems and in some cases people’s daily struggle for survival under extreme climatic and environmental conditions. The 19th-century coffee plantations in Cuba; Stari Grad Plain in Croatia, where grapes and olives have been harvested since ancient Greek times; Konso Cultural Landscape in Ethiopia, where fortified settlements embody a living cultural tradition stretching back twenty-one generations and adapted to a harsh environment; and the subak water management system in Bali (Indonesia), where the spiritual, human and natural worlds are brought together in a philosophy that has shaped the landscape while ensuring prolific rice production – all of these are exceptional examples of an enduring and harmonious interaction. The issue also presents the new World Heritage sites inscribed during the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee, Phnom Penh (Cambodia) in June 2013. Read the issue …

Indigenous peoples’ rights to lands, territories, and resources
Birgitte Feiring, International Land Coalition, 2013 | ISBN: 978-92-95093-90-4

Published as a contribution to the debate towards the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, this study assesses the global and regional instruments, mechanisms and initiatives in regard to indigenous rights to lands, territories and resources. It contains a review of regional situations of indigenous people in Asia, Africa and Latin America, showing how the situation of indigenous peoples varies across regions and countries; and also offers an analysis on how indigenous peoples’ land rights are related to three key thematic areas: women’s rights and access to land and resources; community conserved areas; and climate change and REDD+.

The study concludes with a summary of key trends and challenges, including the non-recognition of tenure rights, and further identifies key opportunities, including strong or emerging indigenous peoples’ organizations, and progressive legislation and policy developments. The study confirms what was suspected: indigenous peoples entertain special relationships with their lands, territories and resources, as these are central to their world view, their cultures, livelihoods, spirituality, identity, and their continued existence as distinct peoples. Read the ILC press release … Download the study [pdf] …

Rain Forest Warriors: How Indigenous Tribes Protect the Amazon
National Geographic, 22 December 2013

LONDON, UK: Deforestation stops at the borders of the lands of indigenous tribes, where a massive green island is comprised of ten legally ratified indigenous territories totaling 35 million acres (14 million hectares). For those who want to protect the Amazon, there’s a lesson here. How do relatively few indigenous people manage to keep the chainsaws and bulldozers at bay over a vast area of pristine forest? Legal protections are part of the answer: Threatened by ranchers, loggers, and gold miners on their borders, the Kayapo fought for and won official recognition of their lands in the 1980s and 1990s. (Their southern neighbors were already living in a smaller protected area, the Xingu Indigenous Park, established in the 1960s.) But this region of the southeastern Amazon is like the Wild West, a territory lacking proper governance. Violent conflict over land, illegal logging and gold mining, fraudulent land deals, and other corruption are rampant. Laws are not protection enough. Some native tribes have staged protests, pressured the government, and fought on the ground to secure their rights. Read the article …

Indigenous rangers protecting turtles
ABC Rural, 24 December 2013

QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA: There is little known about the flat back turtles that nest on the beaches of north Queensland, or the threats they face. But a group of indigenous rangers is working to protect the creatures by patrolling the beaches and the ocean. Mixing traditional knowledge and modern science, the rangers are making sure the extraordinary species will survive into the future, and be around for the next generation. Read the article …

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