Biocultural Diversity

Biocultural Diversity is a term that describes the link between the cultural and biological diversity on the planet. Research suggests that the areas in the world that show higher cultural diversity often prove to be areas of higher biological diversity (Maffi, 2005). Lately, the belief that indigenous cultures have always lived more sustainable lifestyles and are wise stewards of biodiversity, has led to a shift in biodiversity conservation strategies. Local and indigenous people are thus our potential allies in the conservation of biodiversity. In turn Aaranyaa will address the need to conserve these age-old practices and beliefs and knowledge through well-planned and sensitive programmes.

Aaranyaa and Biocultural Diversity Conservation

Aaranyaa’s programmes address the conservation of both biodiversity and biocultural diversity in partnership with local and indigenous communities through the use of community conservation models which allow for the empowerment of local and indigenous people and for the management and conservation of natural resources within the social, cultural, and economic context.

Aaranyaa’s programme includes a study into environmental beliefs, traditional knowledge systems and ecological practices of forest-dependent communities in Uttara Kannada, in the context of a changing world. These observations will provide a window onto the innovative ways in which communities cope with the impact of global trends such as climate change, cultural homogenization, demographic shifts (including displacement, migration and trans-nationalism), the effect of establishment of protected areas for local communities, nutritional transitions and transmission of knowledge through modern communication systems. The project will identify diverse local level initiatives, especially those based on traditional and indigenous knowledge, that highlight integrated and long-term approaches to restoring, conserving and sustainably using natural assets.

Gauri Mallapur, the Aaranyaa director for Biocultural Diversity Conservation spearheaded this project and used the opportunity while visiting the field sites from July to August 2011 to carry out preliminary assessments.


Maffi L 2005 Linguistic, cultural, and biological diversity. Annual Review of Anthropology, 34: 599 – 617.