Biocultural diversity is a relatively new term that is becoming widely used to convey the deep symbiotic relationship between biological and cultural diversity, and how the interaction between them contributes to the resilience and health of our planet. It describes the different dimensions of biodiversity, from species to ecosystems. And it describes all of the ways in which diverse cultures express themselves - from language to music, foods to governance. All of these expressions are reflections of the ecosystems in which cultures are embedded.
Recognising and valuing the beliefs, knowledge, practices and social organisation of local communities and indigenous peoples, and their fundamental right to be different, is the foundation of justice amongst humans.
The loss of biocultural diversity, through the imposition of global uniformity, endangers both human and ecological health and well being. It undermines the right and capacity of communities to choose their own way of life - communities who have developed mutually enhancing ways of living within their environment for millennia. In the present context of climate instability, these are the traditions which have the greatest ability to adapt to the global challenges because they can read what Nature is saying. The fact that these ancient traditions still exist after thousands of years of adaptation is testimony to their resilience. This stands starkly against the industrial system which after just 200 years radically undermined the biosphere, created global warming, and is now collapsing in on itself.
We find ourselves ethically destitute just when, for the first time, we are faced with ultimacy, the irreversible closing down of the Earth's functioning in its major life systems. Our ethical traditions know how to deal with suicide, homicide and even genocide, but these traditions collapse entirely when confronted with biocide, the killing of the life systems of the Earth, and geocide, the devastation of the Earth herself. Thomas Berry
Gaia's founding commitment is to revive and protect biological and cultural diversity as the basis from which resilience and justice can be restored. With our partners in the Amazon, Africa, Asia and Europe, we are regenerating biocultural diversity, seed and food sovereignty, and recovering traditional ecological governance. All of this is rooted in enhancing the ecological principles through which traditional communities govern themselves, in order to maintain healthy and reciprocal relationships with their territories.