Considering biological and cultural diversity in the context of botanical conservation strategies

Concerns continue to mount regarding potential impacts of global climate change, habitat loss, and other environmental changes on the world´s flora. Over the millennia, peoples and cultures across the world have developed deep and unique relationships to the land and have discovered many valuable uses on plants in their areas. Just as floristic diversity is eroding, so too are cultural and linguistic diversity. UNESCO estimates that 50% of all languages are endangered, with one language being lost every 2 weeks. As plants become increasingly rare, and ultimately extinct, the cultural values and significance they represent disappear. Thus, cultures risk losing critical elements of their identity. By the same token, as cultures and languages are lost, we lose traditional knowledge about plants, unique perceptions of time and of nature, and intellectual wisdom. Consequently, botanic gardens and other conservation organizations should consider both biological and cultural diversity within their conservation programs. It is not enough to consider just the effects of environmental change on plant life within the current context of the GSPC and CBD (particularly Article 8(j)). Rather, we must actively engage in understanding the broader impacts of environmental change to "biocultural" diversity.

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