“Protecting biocultural diversity — the true web of life.”

Terralingua n 1: the languages of the Earth, the many voices of the world’s diverse peoples. 2: the language of the Earth, the voice of Mother Nature. 3: an international non-governmental organization (NGO) that works to sustain the biocultural diversity of life a precious heritage to be cherished, protected, and nurtured for generations to come. ¶ From Italian terra ‘earth’ and lingua ‘language’.

Photo: David Rapport, Sierra Terrahumara, Mexico

What is biocultural diversity?

It’s the true web of life: diversity in both nature and culture. It’s a living network made up of the millions of species of plants and animals that have evolved on Earth, and of the thousands of human cultures and languages that have developed over time. Languages, cultures, and ecosystems are interdependent. They’re bound together through the myriad ways in which people have interacted with the natural environment. Through a diversity of cultural traditions and practices, in a great variety of natural environments, human communities have acquired invaluable knowledge of how to achieve harmony with nature. Biocultural diversity is both the source and the expression of all the beauty and potential of life on Earth.

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Why does it matter?

Both biological diversity and cultural diversity are in steep decline. It’s a “converging extinction crisis” of the diversity of life in all its forms. We are losing the unique ways of life and identities of the world’s diverse peoples. We are losing both the rich biodiversity that supports humanity and all other species, and the traditional knowledge that helps sustain biodiversity. It’s a matter of survival. In a time of crisis, we not only desperately need healthy ecosystems. We also desperately need all the voices of the planet and the ancestral wisdom that they express. Losing biocultural diversity is like losing our life insurance when we need it most.

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Terralingua News

Langscape's newest issue is now available. "The People's Issue - Part 1: Flows and Bridges" Flows: the flow of life in nature and culture, in space and time; the flow of water; the flow of memory; the flow of communication and understanding across cultures; the flow of art, dance, and beauty. Bridges: bridges across often troubled waters, linking traditional and scientific knowledge, traditional solutions and contemporary innovations, traditional informal education and western formal education, local situations and global awareness and action; bridges of solidarity among individuals and communities; bridges over our gaps in knowledge and understanding, opening new [...]
Mon, Jun 29, 2015, Continue reading at the source
Our 2014 Annual Report is now available for download. You'll find the past year's news about our projects: Voices of the Earth, the Biocultural Diversity Education Initiative, the Biocultural Diversity Toolkit, and our magazine Langscape, along with our 2014 financial summary and an acknowledgment of our generous supporters. Please do take a moment to read through, and follow the links to further information on the main Terralingua website and on our Terralingua membership site, the Ubuntu. [...]
Fri, Apr 10, 2015, Continue reading at the source
Abstract Submissions - Now ClosedThis issue of Langscape is the "People's Issue" - dedicated to YOU! We want to hear from you, for there is a crucial global dialogue that needs to happen. What are your own thoughts about the value of diversity in nature and culture? What is happening with biocultural diversity in your corner of the world? What are your experiences defending and strengthening biocultural diversity on the ground, wherever you are? What are your efforts to apply the idea in your life, your work, your community, and the [...]
Sat, Jan 17, 2015, Continue reading at the source
We created Terralingua Ubuntu as a space for Terralingua members and friends to come together as a community, connect, and work together to sustain the biocultural diversity of life. Ubuntu is a word in the isiXhosa and isiZulu languages of South Africa, meaning: 1. Humanity or personhood, achieved through interconnectedness with other people and community. 2. An African philosophy of humanism, grounded in the notion that human identity and dignity arise out of respect, concern, compassion, generosity, and reciprocity toward others–family, neighbors, ancestors, community, and the human race at large. True to our mandate of actively supporting biocultural diversity, we developed [...]
Sat, Jan 10, 2015, Continue reading at the source
We are pleased to bring you the first issue of Langscape's new series. In this issue, guest-edited by Yvonne Vizina, we explore how both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal philosophies rooted in the interconnection between language, culture, and nature can inspire and shape new and integrative approaches to education, within and outside the school, and how they can contribute to the problem-solving skills, growth, and resilience of humanity in this rapidly changing world. Join us as we explore Biocultural Diversity as an emerging paradigm in a changing world. New issues of Langscape are now a benefit of Terralingua membership. Join [...]
Thu, Jan 01, 2015, Continue reading at the source
Biocultural Diversity Education Initiative (BCDEI) The goal of the BCDEI is to introduce the idea and relevance of biocultural diversity to high school students (and their teachers). So far we have prepared an overview and other introductory materials for teachers, and are completing three initial curriculum lessons: an introduction to biocultural diversity and two case studies. Keep checking in--we are posting the materials on the BCDEI pages of the Terralingua website as they become available. . [...]
Fri, Dec 12, 2014, Continue reading at the source
Biocultural Diversity Toolkit The Toolkit consists of a series of short volumes aiming to introduce biocultural diversity and relevant approaches and tools to a broad audience of researchers, practitioners, and the general public. Each volume includes introductory articles, conceptual and methodological pieces, and case studies, presented in a handsome and user-friendly format. The material was based both on Terralingua's own work and on collaborations with colleagues from all over the world. The volumes are now available for you on our Biocultural Diversity Conservation Portal. [...]
Fri, Dec 12, 2014, Continue reading at the source
Voices of the Earth As a part of our Voices of the Earth project, we continued to support the Tsilhqot'in First Nation of British Columbia, Canada, in their efforts to document their oral traditions related to their relationship with the land. This material contributed to testimony in an environmental assessment of a gold mining project that was threatening Tsilhqot'in lands, and that was turned down earlier this year. A subsequent historic victory in Canada's Supreme Court affirmed Tsilhqot'in title to a portion of their traditional territory. To celebrate these successes, last month the Tsilhqot'in held a ceremony at the site where the now defunct mining project would have taken place, [...]
Fri, Dec 12, 2014, Continue reading at the source
The challenge we put out in this issue of Langscape is how we can weave tradition and innovation together to actively transform our current global paradigm. How can the linguistic, cultural, and biological treasures handed down to us be utilized in order to ensure their and our continuing existence? How do we draw on ancestral knowledge, practices, and arts to devise new solutions for our global predicament? How do we adapt the gifts, values and teachings of the past to create a brighter future? What new ideas harmonize well with these gifts to reinvigorate their usage where they have declined? [...]
Sun, Aug 31, 2014, Continue reading at the source
Our Index of Linguistic Diversity (ILD), developed by David Harmon and Jonathan Loh, and Vitality Index of Traditional Environmental Knowledge (VITEK), developed by Stanford Zent, are both featured on the website of the Biodiversity Indicators Partnership (BIP). The ILD is also featured in the second edition of the BIP's “Aichi Targets Passport”, a Smartphone app that provides annual updates on the global biodiversity indicators relevant to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)'s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets for addressing the global loss of biodiversity. The BIP is a global initiative mandated by the CBD to promote [...]
Tue, Nov 05, 2013, Continue reading at the source