Elands, B.H.M., Vierikko, K., Andersson, E., Fisher, L.K., Gonçalves, P., Haase, D., Kowarik, I., Luz, A.C., Niemelä, J., Santos-Reis, M. & Wiersum, K.F. (2018) Biocultural diversity: a novel concept to assess human-nature interrelations, nature conservation and stewardship in cities.Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 40, 29-34. DOI:10.1016/j.ufug.2018.04.006 (IF2017 2,782; Q1 Forestry)
Biocultural diversity is an evolving perspective for studying the interrelatedness between people and their natural environment, not only in ecoregional hotspots and cultural landscapes, but also in urban green spaces. Developed in the 1990s in order to denote the diversity of life in all its manifestations―biological, cultural and linguistic―co-evolving within complex socio-ecological systems such as cities, biocultural diversity was identified in the GREEN SURGE project as a response to recent challenges cities face. Most important challenges are the loss of nature and degradation of ecosystems in and around cities as well as an alienation of urban residents from and loss of interaction with nature. The notion of biocultural diversity is dynamic in nature and takes local values and practices of relating to biodiversity of different cultural groups as a starting point for sustainable living with biodiversity. The issue is not only how to preserve or restore biocultural practices and values, but also how to modify, adapt and create biocultural diversity in ways that resonate with urban transformations. As future societies will largely diverge from today’s societies, the cultural perspective on living with (urban) nature needs careful reconsideration. Biocultural diversity is not conceived as a definite concept providing prescriptions of what to see and study, but as a reflexive and sensitising concept that can be used to assess the different values and knowledge of people that reflect how they live with biodiversity. This short communication paper introduces a conceptual framework for studying the multi-dimensional features of biocultural diversity in cities along the three key dimensions of materialized, lived and stewardship, being departure points from which biocultural diversity can be studied.