Concerned by the global erosion of ecosystems, academic community and policy makers strive for implementing innovative policies towards a sustainable management of natural resources. These resources’ undervaluation is widely pointed out as a mayor hindrance to ecological conservation. It is therefore urgent to design accurate methods that acknowledge ecosystems’ pluridimensional value. The contribution of social scientists is necessary to take into account ecosystems’ symbolic and social values, along with economic and ecological ones. But, so far, anthropologists have not engaged with this urgent issue. The BIOVALUE project contributes to filling this gap in the scientific knowledge, by introducing a new methodological approach able to identify natural assets’ multiple valuation criteria.
Heritage policies count among the more promising instruments for rising ecosystems’ multidimensional appraisal. The investigation also assesses heritage policies’ potential to effectively rise biodiversity’s value. On this purpose, the BIOVALUE project examines the FAO initiative for the conservation of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS), focusing on the case of Andean potato farming (a fundamental bearer of the global agro-biodiversity). More precisely, ethnographic observation scrutinizes tubers’ “social biography” in order to reveal how their economic, ecological and social values vary as they travel through different economic spheres. Thereby, the research evaluates any production or destruction of values during heritagisation processes. At the crossroad of social and natural sciences, this investigation clusters an interdisciplinary team of scientists and articulates their expertise with international institutions involved in biodiversity and heritage preservation, thereby contributing to the development of participative global policies that safeguard both cultural and biological diversity.