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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2009  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 100-112

The Intersections of Biological Diversity and Cultural Diversity: Towards Integration

1 University of Essex, Colchester CO4 3SQ, United Kingdom
2 University of Cambridge, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom
3 University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada
4 University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA
5 Equilibrium, United Kingdom
6 University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
7 Terralingua, United Kingdom
8 Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, Northern, Ireland
9 EcoHealth Consulting, United Kingdom
10 University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA
11 American Museum of Natural History, Upper West Side, Manhattan, New York, USA
12 University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California, USA
13 Department of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Colchester CO4 3SQ, United Kingdom

Correspondence Address:
Sarah Pilgrim
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Colchester CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.58642

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There is an emerging recognition that the diversity of life comprises both biological and cultural diversity. In the past, however, it has been common to make divisions between nature and culture, arising partly out of a desire to control nature. The range of interconnections between biological and cultural diversity are reflected in the growing variety of environmental sub-disciplines that have emerged. In this article, we present ideas from a number of these sub-disciplines. We investigate four bridges linking both types of diversity (beliefs and worldviews, livelihoods and practices, knowledge bases and languages, and norms and institutions), seek to determine the common drivers of loss that exist, and suggest a novel and integrative path forwards. We recommend that future policy responses should target both biological and cultural diversity in a combined approach to conservation. The degree to which biological diversity is linked to cultural diversity is only beginning to be understood. But it is precisely as our knowledge is advancing that these complex systems are under threat. While conserving nature alongside human cultures presents unique challenges, we suggest that any hope for saving biological diversity is predicated on a concomitant effort to appreciate and protect cultural diversity.

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