Friday, June 17, 2011

Seeds are our Mothers and other thoughts on Biocultural Heritage

This graphic is an elegant representation of our global biocultural heritage of systems ... utterly interlinked ... everything connected.

biocultural heritage diagram
Biocultural heritage - Protecting interlinked systems

Today I was sent the link to this remarkable website - here is the text from "about" direct from the website. Thank you Heather!

About Biocultural Heritage

India: Kalimpong
Biocultural heritage is a complex system of interdependent parts centred on the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and their natural environment. Its components include biological resources, from the genetic to the landscape level; and long standing traditions, practices and knowledge for adaptation to environmental change and sustainable use of biodiversity.
Biocultural heritage is held collectively, sustains local economies and is transmitted from one generation to the next. It includes thousands of traditional crop and livestock varieties, medicinal plants, wild foods and wild crop relatives. These precious resources have been conserved, domesticated and improved by communities over generations — and sometimes millennia.
We all rely on biocultural heritage for food and health security, particularly in the face of climate change risk and uncertainty. For some 370 million indigenous people who depend directly on natural resources and are vulnerable to climate change, this heritage is vital for survival. It is also closely linked to their cultural identity and religious beliefs.
and from the Home page:
You'll find guidance and resources for grassroots organisations, researchers, practitioners and policymakers.
This website draws on action research by and with indigenous and local communities, including the project 'Protecting community rights over traditional knowledge: Implications of customary laws and practices' (2005–2009). This was a collaboration involving IIED and research partners and indigenous communities in Peru, Panama, Kenya, India and China - See Case Studies and Partners.
Last year I attended an excellent lecture that covered this topic below.
28 April 2011: UN food treaty on plant genetic resources must protect farmers’ rights press release.  This is very much a concern around seeds as "plant genetic resources".
More from this page.

Evidence of Inter-Linkages

Peru: Potato Park The IIED and partners’ project involved 11 different indigenous groups and over 60 communities. It provides clear evidence of the very close linkages and inter-dependence between traditional knowledge (TK) and the other components of biocultural heritage:
  • Traditional knowledge is maintained, transmitted and renewed through the use of diverse biological resources, both wild and domesticated. It is embodied in traditional varieties domesticated and improved by indigenous communities. In the indigenous worldview, intangible traditional knowledge is inextricably linked to the more tangible ‘biodiversity’ it draws on — and cannot be separated from it.
  • Traditional knowledge and innovations are driven and sustained by cultural values, spiritual beliefs and customary laws, which are in turn sustained by ancestral landscapes and the sacred sites they contain.
  • There is also a direct link between traditional knowledge and landscapes. For example, Quechua people believe that the mountain gods teach knowledge. Research also shows that traditional knowledge is lost when the link to ancestral lands is broken.
When traditional varieties are lost, associated TK is also lost; and when they are restored so too are the associated knowledge, practices and cultural values (as evident in the Peru and China cases). Hence cultural information is embedded in seeds.
Hence cultural information is embedded in seeds.

Read more here:
Publications to be found through this website:

ujumama - Mother Seed

IIED code:
Jun 2010 - Qolla Aymara, IIED 
DVD film (disc plays in any region) 

The seeds are our mothers because they nurture us. Sometimes they become our babies, and they need our protection, care and warmth. In other moments they are our sisters, with whom we enjoy, sing and dance. That's how we are all family in our Andean world.

Now thats a thought to leave you with...


Anonymous said...

This is fascinating Sophie! Always excellent information!

fernenland said...

I hate saying it but unless there is a miraculous change of attitude, and ordinary people in large numbers start pressuring their governments to take action on global warming, initiatives such as this will have been simply a complete waste of time and money. Biodiversity - and the indigenous heritage that pertains to it - cannot survive an episode of rapid severe climate change which the latest scientific consensus tells us we are potentially faced with.

Biological systems will likely be unable to adapt fast enough to survive rapid climate change, according to scientists. Yet the latest data shows human-caused emissions at never before seen levels - despite the impact of the global recession.

Some scientific data released in recent weeks:
(June 6, 2011) — The rate of release of carbon into the atmosphere today is nearly 10 times as fast as during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), 55.9 million years ago, the best analog we have for current global warming, according to an international team of geologists. Rate matters and this current rapid change may not allow sufficient time for the biological environment to adjust."
(June 8, 2011)"Our findings suggest that humankind may be causing atmospheric carbon dioxide to increase at rates never previously seen on Earth, which would suggest that current temperatures will potentially rise much faster than they did during the PETM,..."

I hope each reader of this blog begins to take action at whatever level is available to them. There is no force as powerful as ordinary people when they set their minds to it. The planet has never needed them as much.

Sophie Munns said...

Thank you for taking the time to read this Mary!
It can appear to be easier to put one's head in the sand I know... but every time we don't take that option and get more informed and spread the word it is the step we need to take.

Fernenland ...
that last line is so important:
"There is no force as powerful as ordinary people when they set their minds to it. The planet has never needed them as much."
I'll quote you on that... and hope that many read this AND your comment.
I''ll tweet it too!
Thanks you for your deeply considered response.

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