How Culture Affects Biodiversity

How Culture Affects Biodiversity

Emma Shepheard-Walwyn, U.Kent Recently the integration of social science techniques into biodiversity conservation research has increased, especially in studies focusing on cultural and sacred natural sites. In my investigation of the Kaya forests of the Mijikenda people in coastal Kenya, I used interdisciplinary approaches, including social-science methods, to investigate the existing interactions between the local people and the sacred kaya forests and how their cultures, attitudes and values may impact the conservation of these sites. My findings demonstrate that the sacred sites are important for biodiversity, cultural heritage and perceived/actual ecosystem services. They show that the sites and the biodiversity they contain are important to cultural activities, which may impact their conservation. They also indicate that there are relatively large populations surrounding some of the sites and many of the sites are undergoing degradation and suffering from encroachment. In addition, my findings also show that the attitudes, values and behaviours of the Mijikenda have undergone substantial modifications in the past century. Most people identify as being Christian or Muslim, over half of the surveyed population no longer view the Kayas as sacred, and more than two thirds do not know the traditional laws. The investigation of these social factors can help ecologists to understand the how the sacred sites are perceived and used, which can help to explain the existing communities within the sites as well as potentially highlighting some of the pressures that they and the biodiversity they contain may face. This knowledge will therefore enable ecologists and other conservationists to designing better, more appropriate management approaches for such...
From Wild to Post-collapse

From Wild to Post-collapse

Philippe Saner, University of Zurich Since 2009 the NGO Rhino and Forest Fund engages in the restoration of Borneo’s landscape, in close collaboration with local stakeholders. I will briefly outline the current status of our project work on site and present an ongoing conservation finance initiative that we undertake to establish an important wildlife corridor in the Tabin Wildlife...
Ritual plant use

Ritual plant use

Fostering relatedness to the environment through ritual plant use: daily practices in a Tibetan community in Southwest China Caroline S. Weckerle, University of Zurich The foothills of the Eastern Himalayas are well known for their rich biocultural diversity. They are thus valuable for research on interrelatedness of people with their biodiversity-rich environment and traditional plant knowledge. As part of the Tibetan cultural area, people in the eastern Himalayas largely perform a traditional lifestyle with subsistence agriculture and Tibetan Buddhism at its core. We show here how people communicate and integrate with their environment through their daily religious practices and the specific use of ritual...
Apology of Failure

Apology of Failure

Apology of Failure: Three tales on a strategy for success when all the odds are against you Philippe Forêt, University of Zurich / University of Orleans This paper will examine failure and redemption in in-between areas. Keeping a facus on methodological issues, we will examine case studies from Paris in the 1770s, Hong Kong in the 1950s and Macau today. I will argue that success after failure depends on the articulation of place, values and community, the creation of an area open to negotiations, and the command of new...
From Parasitism to Symbiosis

From Parasitism to Symbiosis

Marcus Hall, University of Zurich Individuals in communities can all be considered either competitors or else cooperators with one another, so that in the first instance, they are either parasites or hosts, or in the second instance, they are symbionts of each other by providing mutual assistance. This talk explores how seeing a dichotomy of parasites and symbionts helps us understand our biological and cultural worlds, and how there is strong evidence to suggest not only that parasites evolve into symbionts, but that symbionts evolve into parasites. A parasite, as concept and entity, provides crucial messages for ecologists as well as...