“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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