Biocultural Diversity in European cities

Nov 05, 2015

Recently published: Policy interpretations and manifestation of biocultural diversity in urbanized Europe: conservation of lived biodiversity. By Birgit H. M. Elands, Arjen E. Buijs, K. Freerk Wiersum and Kati Vierikko, in: Biodiversity and Conservation Volume 24, Number 13 (2015), pp. 3347-3366.


Biocultural diversity, which refers to the inextricable link between biodiversity and cultural diversity, has been predominantly associated with the traditional ways in which indigenous people in tropical countries interact with the natural environment. But it does not have to be restricted to these circumstances. Biocultural diversity may also be regarded as an interesting concept for understanding how people in industrialized and globalized societies deal with nature. This paper explores biocultural diversity in 20 European cities by considering (i) how biocultural diversity is interpreted in urban planning and governance, and (ii) what actual manifestations of biocultural diversity are present in these cities. Despite the fact that the concept of biocultural diversity was hardly recognized by city authorities, interviewees gave many examples of how biodiversity and cultural diversity are taken into account in (in) formal city policies. The research revealed two main manifestations of biocultural diversity within urban Europe: biocultural diversity grounded in ecological features, and cultural values as a basic foundation for biocultural diversity. Consequently, urban biocultural diversity was found to have two spatial levels: the city level and the site level. The former is the domain of governmental policy makers who discuss biocultural diversity in ‘green space networks’ in a rather static way. The latter is the domain where citizens participate in decisionmaking and the management of green spaces; it is here that cultural dynamics are most acknowledged.

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