Biocultural diversity: moving beyond the realm of 'indigenous' and 'local' people

M.L. Cocks

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115 Citations (Scopus)


During the past decade the relationship between biodiversity and human diversity has received increased attention, resulting in the identification of what the Declaration of Belém calls an `inextricable link¿ between biological and cultural diversity. Although the term biocultural diversity, introduced to denote this link, is being used increasingly, there has been little critical reflection on what it precisely refers to. I argue that it is used with particular reference to `indigenous traditional¿ people, but that there is scope for extending its application within biocultural discourse. I therefore review the concept of culture and discuss what constitutes cultural values of the natural environment. I conclude that the concept of culture must be understood as involving a dynamic process of transcultural exchange and constant re-articulations of tradition resulting in the persistence of certain cultural practices. This approach ultimately reveals that the concept of biocultural diversity is also applicable to non-indigenous traditional communities
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-200
JournalHuman Ecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • eastern-cape
  • biodiversity
  • management
  • africa
  • values

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