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Making Up for Lost Nature?

A Critical Review of the International Development of Voluntary Biodiversity Offsets

Sarah Benabou

This article analyzes the international development of voluntary biodiversity offsets, a conservation instrument that permits developers to pursue their activities if conservation actions are undertaken elsewhere to compensate for the environmental impacts of their projects. Largely undertaken by extractive industries that operate in the global South where no offsetting regulations exist, this tool is currently attracting growing interest from policy makers, private companies, financial institutions, and conservation experts. Building upon the concept of market framing developed by Callon (1998), I explore in what contexts and through what processes this idea has gathered momentum, as well as the disturbing gap between the way it has been framed and its practical implementation. It is suggested that once immersed in the outside world, the market framing of offsets appears as a fragile result dependent upon substantial investments, which casts serious doubts about offsets' ability to reduce biodiversity loss on technical, governance, and social grounds.

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Spiritual Beliefs and Ecological Traditions in Indigenous Communities in India

Enhancing Community-Based Biodiversity Conservation

Maria Costanza Torri and Thora Martina Herrmann

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From time immemorial, local and indigenous communities in India have developed traditions, representations, and beliefs about the forest and biodiversity. The cultural practices and beliefs of a community play a significant role in enhancing community-based initiatives, particularly in achieving sustainability in the long term. Nevertheless, too often conservation policies do not take into consideration the link between the culture of local communities and their environment. A comprehensive understanding of the relationship between cultural traditions and practices related to biodiversity and their current status and manifestations is crucial to the concept of effective and sustainable conservation policy. This article examines the traditional practices of the communities in the Sariska region (Rajasthan, India) as well as their beliefs and their values, underlining the special relationship that these tribal and indigenous communities maintain with the forest and their usefulness in community-based conservation. Some conclusive remarks on the importance of adapting conservation approaches to local cultural representations of the environment will be drawn.

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George Holmes

Planetary changes associated with the Anthropocene challenge longestablished ideas and approaches within biodiversity conservation, such as wilderness, wildness, native and exotic species, species and ecosystem diversity, and what counts as success in biodiversity conservation. This article reviews and analyzes how the Anthropocene is being used within the literature on biodiversity conservation. It finds that the idea of a new epoch has been used to frame a broad range of new approaches and concepts to understanding and stemming the loss of biodiversity. These new ideas are diverse and sometimes contradictory, embracing a range of ethical values and positions. Yet the term Anthropocene is not widely used within the biodiversity conservation literature. Despite the cross-disciplinary nature of the Anthropocene, interdisciplinary research on these new concepts and approach is rare, and the insights of the humanities are almost entirely absent. Debates about conservation in the Anthropocene are a continuation of long-running controversies within conservation, such as how it should relate to human development, and over the concept of wilderness. Overall, this review demonstrates that the literature on biodiversity conservation in the Anthropocene is not well established, is both diverse and new, while echoing longstanding debates in conservation, and it indicates the direction such literature might take in future.

Open access

A Crystal Ball for Forests?

Analyzing the Social-Ecological Impacts of Forest Conservation and Management over the Long Term

Daniel C. Miller, Pushpendra Rana, and Catherine Benson Wahlén

questions through a review of the broad interdisciplinary literature that assesses forest conservation and management impacts on biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation, and poverty alleviation in developing countries. It focuses particular

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Ka’ux

Mixe language and biodiversity loss in Oaxaca, Mexico

Alfonsina Arriaga-Jiménez, Citlali Pérez-Díaz, and Sebastian Pillitteri

English abstract: The community of Tlahuitoltepec, in the Sierra Mixe of Oaxaca, is losing Traditional Ecological Knowledge due to socially driven changes in its natural environment. Mixe is one of the 69 indigenous languages spoken in Oaxaca, and is spoken almost exclusively in Tlahuitoltepec. Using an ethnographic approach, with loosely structured interviews among key members of the community, we analyzed the theory that biodiversity loss is linked to the loss of indigenous languages and traditional ecological knowledge. Our findings show that certain words in Mixe, used to refer to animals that are no longer observed in the community or its surroundings, are not well known by young people. The case of Ka’ux reflects what happens to traditional ecological knowledge and to an indigenous language when biodiversity is lost.

Spanish abstract: La comunidad de Tlahuitoltepec, en la Sierra Mixe de Oaxaca, pierde conocimiento ecológico tradicional debido a cambios sociales en su ambiente natural. El Mixe es una de las 69 lenguas indígenas habladas en Oaxaca, y es hablado casi exclusivamente en Tlahiutoltepec. Aplicando un enfoque etnográfico, con entrevistas semiestructuradas a miembros clave de la comunidad, analizamos la teoría sobre si la pérdida de biodiversidad se relaciona con la pérdida de lenguas indígenas y conocimiento ecológico tradicional. Nuestros resultados muestran que algunas palabras mixes usadas para nombrar animales que ya no se observan en la comunidad o sus alrededores, no son bien conocidas por la gente joven. El caso de Ka’ux refleja que ocurre con el conocimiento ecológico tradicional y a las lenguas indígenas cuando la biodiversidad desaparece.

French abstract: La communauté de Tlahuitoltepec, dans la Sierra mixe d’Oaxaca, perd ses connaissances écologiques traditionnelles en raison de changements sociaux dans son environnement naturel. Le mixe est l’une des soixante-neuf langues indigènes parlées à Oaxaca et elle est parlée presque exclusivement à Tlahuitoltepec. En utilisant une approche ethnographique, avec des entretiens semi-structurés parmi les membres clés de la communauté, nous avons analysé la théorie selon laquelle la biodiversité est liée à la perte des langues autochtones et des connaissances écologiques traditionnelles. Nos résultats montrent que certains mots en mixe utilisés pour désigner des animaux qui ne sont plus observés dans la communauté ou ses environs ne sont pas bien connus des jeunes. Le cas de Ka’ux reflète l’impact de la perte de biodiversité sur les connaissances écologiques traditionnelles et sur une langue autochtone.

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J. Donald Hughes

Henry David Thoreau remarked that he had traveled widely—in Concord, Massachusetts. An intentionally contradictory statement, it is nonetheless true if the landscape is composed of many interpenetrating biomes and cultural uses. Fields and forests, groves and gardens, towns and temples form the tesserae of a landscape mosaic embodying the interpenetration of culture and nature, and while such elements provide diversity, they can also, paradoxically, mold integrity. The integrity of nature, in the sense of the completeness of the ecosystem that is present in a place, invests that place with power and lays a claim on sentient beings. Mosaic landscapes have a higher degree of biological diversity than monocultures because they manifest ecotonality, and they are spiritual stimuli for the psyches of those who live within and travel through them. Maintaining the variety of elements within the mosaic, and preventing effacement by huge, land-altering projects where "culture" disregards nature, is a moral imperative. The arrangement of tesserae in a particular landscape mosaic must not be haphazard, but should make both cultural and natural sense, following the underlying geology, the paths of celestial events, and the places where myth and history have resonated, binding cultural meaning to the fabric of the land. Such a pattern leaves areas of varying habitats where biodiversity may flourish. In a future when humans will inhabit the Earth sustainably, the concept of the landscape mosaic may serve as an organizing principle.

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Rolf Lidskog

This paper analyzes public understanding and moral reasoning with regard to regulating nature, specifically, societal efforts to control an insect population. It presents a study of a Swedish case in which a biological insecticide has been used to fight mosquitoes to reduce the nuisance to the local population. This case involves conflicting values regarding environmental protection. People's right to outdoor life is placed in opposition to long-term risks to biodiversity. Through interviews with local residents, their deliberations on the spraying are analyzed, particularly concerning to what extent and how they describe the situation in moral terms, but also how they acknowledge and use scientific findings in their argumentation.

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Anna Jorgensen and Paul H. Gobster

In this paper we review and analyze the recent research literature on urban green space and human health and well-being, with an emphasis on studies that attempt to measure biodiversity and other green space concepts relevant to urban ecological restoration. We first conduct a broad scale assessment of the literature to identify typologies of urban green space and human health and well-being measures, and use a research mapping exercise to detect research priorities and gaps. We then provide a more in-depth assessment of selected studies that use diverse and innovative approaches to measuring the more ecological aspects of urban green space and we evaluate the utility of these approaches in developing urban restoration principles and practices that are responsive to both human and ecological values.

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Linda D’Amico

scientists called attention to the importance of biodiversity and rain-forest conservation. Ecologists and conservation organisations prioritised the preservation of Intag cloud forests for their endemic biocultural diversities and vast hydrology resources

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Dagmar Haase

Whereas environmental and social impacts of urban sprawl are widely discussed among scholars from both the natural and social sciences, the spatial consequences of urban decline are nearly neglected when discussing the impacts of land transition. Within the last decade, "shrinkage" and "perforation" have arisen as new terms to explain the land use development of urban regions faced with demographic change, particularly decreasing fertility, aging, and out-migration. Although shrinkage is far from being a "desired" scenario for urban policy makers, this paper argues that a perforation of the built-up structure in dense cities might bring up many positive implications.