Walking our Talk: Creating a Community of Practice

Throughout the world, biocultural diversity continues to decline, despite the growing recognition of its vital importance for the future of humanity and of all life on earth. The many on-the-ground efforts that are taking place worldwide to support and restore biocultural diversity are forging a new, integrated path toward sustainability. However, by and large these efforts happen in isolation from one another and tend to “fall under the radar”: they often remain invisible, and the people involved in them cannot benefit from one another’s experiences and form a common front. There have been no established mechanisms for making the interconnections among these efforts. As a consequence, the lessons from all these activities remain dispersed in many different locales and cannot be learned easily. Their wide-ranging implications for policy and implementation—and indeed for an overall paradigm shift in how we think of human relationships with the environment—cannot be brought out as prominently as they deserve. Our current global predicament calls for giving much greater visibility to these efforts, so that we can share successes and solutions, and work together to better address the challenges ahead and promote a more favorable climate for biocultural diversity conservation. One of the key goals of the Terralingua project that led to our book Biocultural Diversity Conservation: A Global Sourcebook is to support the development of a network, or “community of practice”, in biocultural diversity conservation, so as to create the conditions for greater direct interactions among researchers and practitioners involved in biocultural diversity conservation activities. Within such a network, people are able to share information, experiences, and lessons learned among peers, discuss what works and what remains a challenge, and build on this knowledge sharing in order to strengthen methodologies, expand the scope of the approach, raise awareness, and identify needs and opportunities for advancing biocultural diversity research, policy, and action. This companion portal to our Sourcebook is our response to the need for such a community of practice. On the “Stories” page, portal users can read as well as post “real-life” stories of people who are working on the ground to conserve biocultural diversity.  On the “Projects” page, people can add to the gallery of biocultural diversity conservation projects, thus progressively expanding the network and its worldwide reach. The “Conservation in Conversation” discussion forum enables participants to post queries and comments and discuss relevant topics, ranging from the “nuts and bolts” of biocultural diversity continue reading–>