PROJECT UPDATE: Biocultural Diversity in Farming Landscapes of the Global South

Our project on biocultural diversity has now been running for more than a year and we are happy to report some achievements that we have made so far.

First, we have put together a core team of researchers. This includes Jan Hanspach as the project lead, Isabel Diaz Reviriego as a postdoc, and Stefan Ortiz Przychodzka and Camila Benavides Frias as PhD students. Annika Drews-Shambroom works as the project coordinator and looks after the administrative processes.

Last September we went for a first scoping trip to Bolivia, where most of the empirical work of the project is meant to happen, and started to set up a collaboration with a local NGO. Now after many discussions, meetings, emails and paper work we jointly agreed on a collaboration with the Bolivian NGO FundaciĆ³n TIERRA.

Unfortunately, the political situation in Bolivia deteriorated after the national election failed in October. With the Covid-19 pandemic hitting in on top of that the current situation is rather grave. Of course, this also means that it is uncertain how we can continue our work in Bolivia and we are in the process of adapting to the situation.

Nonetheless, we are trying to move forward and progress in different ways instead. For example, we now have published a systematic literature review on biocultural approaches in sustainability science. It shows that biocultural approaches are increasingly applied in a broad range of research contexts. These include applied research ranging from biodiversity conservation and ecosystem restoration to discussions of ethical issues and their implementation. The results also show that biocultural approaches still lack mainstreaming of issues related to gender, power, action and transformations. This is something that we want to pay special attention to in our project. The paper was published in the journal People and Nature in July 2020. You can view the full paper here. We are currently working on a similar analysis of the Spanish literature on the topic.

We also recently launched a new project website! Embedded in our website is also a Blog where we regularly post general news and updates on our progress, so check it out! We are also on Facebook and Twitter! And you can watch a short video explaining the concept of biocultural diversity and introducing our project – a Spanish version of that is in the pipeline.

By Annika Drews-Shambroom and the BioKultDiv Project Team