Secretariat provided and hosted by Bioversity International

Since 1996 Terralingua, an international NGO and IUCN member, has been at the forefront of developing research and applications in the field of biocultural diversity. This field conceives of the diversity of life as diversity in nature and culture. It has brought to the fore the links and interdependence between language, knowledge and the environment at the local level, and between biodiversity, cultural diversity and linguistic diversity globally.

Terralingua has worked tirelessly to promote the understanding and adoption of a biocultural perspective in academic, professional, and policy circles and among the general public, for the sake of human futures and the sustainability of all life on Earth.

Some of our work has resulted in a set of tools that form what we call our "Biocultural Diversity Toolkit":

  • A set of mappings that illustrate and analyze the geography of biocultural diversity and identify factors in the persistence or loss of biocultural diversity.
  • A set of indicators (the Index of Biocultural Diversity, the Index of Linguistic Diversity, and the Vitality Index of Traditional Environmental Knowledge) that allow for the quantitative assessment of the state and trends of language vitality and TEK vitality, two key components of cultural diversity, and for comparison with state and trends of biodiversity.
  • A sourcebook that surveys and analyzes projects from all over the world that take an integrated biocultural approach to conserving biodiversity and sustaining local cultures and cultural diversity, and draws lessons for successful biocultural diversity conservation.

Information about these and other Terralingua projects is found at People interested in Terralingua's work can contact Luisa Maffi, Terralingua's co-founder and director, at Those who would like to become Terralingua members and/or receive our newsletter can contact Tania Aguila at

In February 2010, Terralingua will launch"Conversation on Conservation", a web-based discussion forum devoted to the development of a community of practice in biocultural diversity conservation. The forum will be found on a companion portal for our upcoming book Biocultural Diversity Conservation: A Global Sourcebook (Earthscan, February 2010), which reports on the results of our survey of biocultural projects. (See the Publications section in this newsletter for further information about this book.)

The URL for this portal, which currently is still under construction, is Interested people will find the link to sign up for the discussion forum. We invite everyone to join the conversation, for a mutually enriching exchange of experiences on what works where, when and how in biocultural diversity conservation, as well as for a constructive discussion of how to strengthen this approach and overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of its broader adoption.

Work area: 
Social Policy
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