Defining biocultural approaches to conservation

Featured Journal Content

Trends in Ecology & Evolution (TREE)
Volume 30, Issue 3, p140–145, March 2015
Defining biocultural approaches to conservation
Michael C. Gavin1,2, Joe McCarter1, Aroha Mead3, Fikret Berkes4, John Richard Stepp5, Debora Peterson4, and Ruifei Tang2
1Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1480, USA 2 School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand 3 Maori Business, School of Management, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand 4 Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2, Canada 5 Ethnobiology Lab, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
:: Biocultural conservation addresses loss of biological and cultural diversity.
:: These approaches sustain dynamic and interdependent social-ecological systems.
: Biocultural conservation can lead to just, legal, and effective outcomes.
:: We outline eight principles of successful biocultural conservation initiatives.

We contend that biocultural approaches to conservation can achieve effective and just conservation outcomes while addressing erosion of both cultural and biological diversity. Here, we propose a set of guidelines for the adoption of biocultural approaches to conservation. First, we draw lessons from work on biocultural diversity and heritage, social–ecological systems theory, integrated conservation and development, co-management, and community-based conservation to define biocultural approaches to conservation. Second, we describe eight principles that characterize such approaches. Third, we discuss reasons for adopting biocultural approaches and challenges. If used well, biocultural approaches to conservation can be a powerful tool for reducing the global loss of both biological and cultural diversity.

Principles of biocultural approaches to conservation
1 Acknowledge that conservation can have multiple objectives and stakeholders
2 Recognize the importance of intergenerational planning and institutions for long-term adaptive governance
3 Recognize that culture is dynamic, and this dynamism shapes resource use and conservation 4 Tailor interventions to the social–ecological context
5 Devise and draw upon novel, diverse, and nested institutional frameworks
6 Prioritize the importance of partnership and relation building for conservation outcomes
7 Incorporate the distinct rights and responsibilities of all parties
8 Respect and incorporate different worldviews