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Journal ArticleDOI

Biocultural approaches to pollinator conservation

11 Mar 2019-Vol. 2, Iss: 3, pp 214-222

Abstract: Pollinators underpin sustainable livelihoods that link ecosystems, spiritual and cultural values, and customary governance systems with indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) across the world. Biocultural diversity is a shorthand term for this great variety of people–nature interlinkages that have developed over time in specific ecosystems. Biocultural approaches to conservation explicitly build on the conservation practices inherent in sustaining these livelihoods. We used the Conceptual Framework of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services to analyse the biocultural approaches to pollinator conservation by IPLCs globally. The analysis identified biocultural approaches to pollinators across all six elements of the Conceptual Framework, with conservation-related practices occurring in 60 countries, in all continents except Antarctica. Practices of IPLCs that are important for biocultural approaches to pollinator conservation can be grouped into three categories: the practice of valuing diversity and fostering biocultural diversity; landscape management practices; and diversified farming systems. Particular IPLCs may use some or all of these practices. Policies that recognize customary tenure over traditional lands, strengthen indigenous and community-conserved areas, promote heritage listing and support diversified farming systems within a food sovereignty approach are among several identified that strengthen biocultural approaches to pollinator conservation, and thereby deliver mutual benefits for pollinators and people. Pollinators are integral to ecosystem functions and human wellbeing, yet conservation approaches often ignore indigenous and biocultural perspectives and practices. This Analysis uses the IPBES framework to categorize biocultural practices and identify policies to support their roles in pollinator conservation.

Summary (4 min read)

Introduction

  • Pollinators are integral to a good quality of life for people globally, contributing to sustainable livelihoods, maintenance of ecosystem health and function, food production, cultural, spiritual and social values 1 .
  • Inclusive policy for their conservation requires innovative, multiscale assessments that include evidence from science and other knowledge systems 2 .
  • Biocultural approaches to conservation, which explicitly build on local cultural perspectives and recognize feedbacks between ecosystems and quality of life, have emerged as key to the necessary inclusivity 4 .
  • The authors provide the first global analysis and review of current literature about biocultural approaches to pollinator conservation, drawing on and augmenting work undertaken for the first IPBES assessment 9 .
  • Particular IPLCs may use some or all of these practices.

Results of the Analysis

  • All six elements of the IPBES CF are presented in Figure 1 (a); and Figure 1 (b) presents the analysis of IPLCs' biocultural approaches to pollinator conservation into these elements, which includes b Indigenous and local knowledge is defined here in accordance with Diaz et al.
  • It is also referred to by other terms such as, for example, Indigenous, local or traditional knowledge, traditional ecological/environmental knowledge (TEK), farmers' or fishers' knowledge, ethnoscience, indigenous science, folk science." recognition of drivers of unsustainable practices for pollinators which are evident among some IPLCs.
  • The arrows between the elements reflect influences and interactions 5 which are not further described here.

Figure 1 (a) IPBES Conceptual Framework 5 and (b) analysis of biocultural approaches to pollinator conservation according to this Conceptual Framework

  • Pollinators, pollination and good quality of life Pollinators and plant-pollinator interaction networks make vital contributions to IPLCs' quality of life, in both subsistence and market economies, as part of socio-cultural heritage, identity, and social relations 11 .
  • Beekeeping provides a critical anchor for rural economies because: (1) minimal investment is required; (2) diverse products can be sold; (3) land ownership or rental is usually not necessary; (4) nutritional and medicinal benefits derive; (5) timing and location of activities are flexible; and (6) links to ILK and traditions are usually numerous 12 .
  • Honey hunting makes significant contributions to some IPLCs, providing vital sustenance and deep connections with quality of life .
  • Examples of contemporary honey-hunters include: the forest peoples of Indonesia; Ogiek people in Kenya; and Xingu people in Brazil 11 .
  • The collection of entire bee colonies means that high protein components such as brood, royal jelly and pollen form important dietary constituents 14 .

Figure 2 Global patterns of the contribution of biocultural approaches for pollinators and pollination to quality of life, from studies/sites identified in the analysis: (a) beekeeping; (b) honey hunting; (c) Intangible Cultural Heritage listed as globally significant; (d) Cultural and Mixed Sites inscribed on the World Heritage List (WHL) with significance for pollinators

  • Pollinators' roles in rituals, dances, myths and legends of IPLCs are recognised as globally significant through inclusions in the Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO .
  • The World Heritage List is divided into sites listed for their cultural heritage; those listed for their natural heritage; and those that have both cultural and natural heritage, known as "mixed sites".
  • Virtually all natural sites protect pollinators and many cultural and mixed sites protect and celebrate biocultural linkages between people and pollinators .
  • Examples of sites that recognise biocultural approaches include the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia, and the Osun Sacred Grove protected by Yoruba peoples near Osogbo, Nigeria.
  • The Agave Landscape in Mexico recognizes biocultural interactions with this bat-pollinated plant used since at least the 16th century to produce tequila spirit, and for at least 2,000 years to make other fermented drinks, fibre and cloth.

Anthropogenic assets

  • IPLCs develop and use anthropogenic assets, particularly technologies for honey-hunting and beekeeping 15 , that underpin the good quality of their lives.
  • Honey hunters manufacture ladders in Ethiopia 16 and ropes from lianas in India 17 for tree-climbing.
  • Diverse techniques among IPLCs for construction of bee hives have been reported across Europe (e.g. tree-trunk hives 19, 20 ); in Asia (e.g. clay, cow-dung, bamboo, rafter and log hives [21] [22] [23] ); and in west, east and north Africa (e.g. hives made from cane lined with leaves, and woven baskets covered with mud and dung [24] [25] [26] ).
  • In France and Spain, anthropogenic assets include traditional swarming methods, harvest and honey extraction techniques, and diverse smokers 19 .
  • Examples include its use for arrow cement in Bolivia; to soften skins, and make jewelry in Africa; and to make hunting tools, firesticks and didgeridoos, a traditional musical instrument, in Australia 10 .

Biocultural pollinator institutions and governance

  • IPLCs' governance and institutional arrangements are central to biocultural approaches to pollinator conservation .
  • Governance systems consist of actors (individuals and organisations), institutions (formal and informal rules and norms) and multi-level interactions (across scales and between organisations and institutions) 29 .
  • Actors in biocultural governance systems often include actual pollinators, as IPLCs attribute authority to many spirits who are pollinators, including birds, bats, butterflies, bees and other insects 10 .
  • Multilevel interactions highlight risks to these biocultural approaches, arising from lack of recognition of customary tenure and other rights at the nation-state level.
  • Ogiek honey-hunters recently won the case ACHRP vs Republic of Kenya App. No. 006/2012 in the African Court of Human and Peoples' Rights.

Drivers of change

  • Many IPLCs report pollinator and pollination declines associated with expansion of industrial forestry and agriculture into their traditional lands, driving habitat loss and degradation, and replacing biodiverse habitat with monocultures 11 .
  • Loss and decline of the stingless bees is linked with a loss of traditional knowledge and practices such as ethnomedicine (use of honey), cosmogony, and handcraft (using cerumen) 10 .
  • Pollinators can themselves become threatened as IPLCs experience scarcity of wild food resources.
  • Large flying foxes (Pteropus vampyrus natunae) in Kalimantan, Indonesia, are threatened by over-hunting for food 44 .
  • Language holds culturally specific knowledge of local biodiversity, ethnobiological knowledge, as well as knowledge about traditional resource use, management practices and taxonomy.

Figure 3 Drawings by J.M.F. Camargo 52 , marked with the Kayapó names of the different anatomical structures of a bee (left) and ontogenetic stages of bee development (right). Reproduced with permission.

  • Nature's contributions to people Nature's contributions to people (NCP) include all the contributions, both positive and negative, of nature (i.e. systems of life) to quality of life for people 8 .
  • NCP are created through interactions between systems of life, anthropogenic assets, and institutions and governance.
  • The context-specific perspective is recognised as potentially producing bundles or groups that follow from distinct lived experiences such as farming, or hunting and gathering.
  • The authors analysis identified three such bundles or groups that are considered NCP as part of, and ways to foster, biocultural approaches to pollinator conservation: (1) the practice of valuing diversity and fostering biocultural diversity; (2) landscape management practices; and (3) diversified farming systems.
  • Many IPLCs favour heterogeneity in land-use as well as in their gardens, tend to the conservation of nesting trees and flowering resources for bees, butterflies and other pollinators, name and classify a great range of wild bees, observe their habitat and food preferences.

Figure 4 Landscape management practices (a and b) and diversified farming systems (c and d), based on Indigenous and Local Knowledge (ILK), that are part of and foster pollinators' roles in Nature's Contributions to People (NCP)

  • Three types of diversified farming systems based on ILK, scattered across the globe, were identified as part of, and ways to foster NCP .
  • Evidence is accumulating that commodity agroforestry, practiced by IPLCs and resulting in a landscape matrix of fragments of high-biodiversity native vegetation amidst the agricultural crop, both produces food and maintains pollination services 54 .
  • Home Gardens, capitalised to distinguish those characterised by producing a wide diversity of foods and medicinal plants, display complexity and multi-functionality, and provide habitat for a great diversity of pollinators 55 .
  • Shifting cultivation (seasonal rotation of crops, trees, animals and intercropping) demonstrates diverse interdependencies with pollinators and remains important in many regions, particularly through the tropical world 56 .
  • The traditional Mayan Milpa shifting cultivation produces a patchy landscape with forests in different stages of succession with a diverse array of plants, nearly all of which are pollinated by insects, birds and bats 57 .

Seven policies to support biocultural approaches to pollinator conservation

  • IPLCs across the globe continue to practice many successful biocultural approaches to pollinator conservation.
  • Indigenous Protected Areas in Australia required prior informed consent for their creation, and have protected culturally-significant pollinationdependent fruit, their bird and bat pollinators, and their habitats 10 .
  • The Intangible Cultural Heritage List promotes understanding of practices which are listed-for example the protection of traditional knowledge of Totanac people, which includes agroforestry systems that protect pollinators and stingless beekeeping.
  • Fostering livelihoods based on beekeeping can overcome many barriers to effective pollinator protection when they are able to link: (1) customary economies (that require ongoing protection of pollinators); (2) markets (that give these products economic significance); and (3) investments from government in accompanying research, market analysis and brokering 11 .
  • Promoting food sovereignty helps pollination protection because of its connection with diversified farming systems and management practices that foster diversity and abundance of pollinators and pollination resources 65 .

Conclusion

  • Pollinators and pollination have become worldwide heritage and IPLCs' have ancient and recent associations with these organisms, creating rich and unique biocultural manifestations.
  • The contributions of IPLCs are therefore essential to decision-making and actions for the preservation of these key ecological resources.
  • The authors consider that the suggested seven policies will strengthen vital ILK while providing ongoing opportunities for education, development and empowerment of the wellbeing of IPLCs and mutual benefits with broader societies.
  • Local community-driven conservation initiatives can be successful and should be encouraged.
  • The authors conclude that pollination and pollinators can be better preserved by acknowledging IPLCs and working together between ILK and science for sustainable ecosystem governance and management in this time of rapid global change.

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Biocultural approaches to pollinator
conservation
Article
Accepted Version
Hill, R., Nates-Parra, G., Quezada-Euán, J. J. G., Buchori, D.,
LeBuhn, G., Maués, M. M., Pert, P. L., Kwapong, P. K., Saeed,
S., Breslow, S. J., Carneiro da Cunha, M., Dicks, L. V.,
Galetto, L., Gikungu, M. G., Howlett, B. G., Imperatriz-
Fonseca, V. L., Lyver, P. O.'B., Martín-López, B., Oteros-
Rozas, E., Potts, S. G. and Roué, M. (2019) Biocultural
approaches to pollinator conservation. Nature Sustainability, 2.
pp. 214-222. ISSN 2398-9629 doi:
https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-019-0244-z Available at
https://centaur.reading.ac.uk/82035/
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1
Biocultural approaches to pollinator 1
conservation 2
3
Abstract 4
Pollinators underpin sustainable livelihoods that link ecosystems, spiritual and cultural values, and 5
customary governance systems with indigenous peoples
a
and local communities (IPLC) across the 6
world. Biocultural diversity is a short-hand term for this great variety of people-nature interlinkages 7
that have developed over time in specific ecosystems. Biocultural approaches to conservation 8
explicitly build on the conservation practices inherent in sustaining these livelihoods. We used the 9
Conceptual Framework of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services to 10
analyse the biocultural approaches to pollinator conservation by indigenous peoples and local 11
communities globally. The analysis identified biocultural approaches to pollinators across all six 12
elements of the Conceptual Framework, with conservation-related practices occurring in sixty 13
countries, in all continents except Antarctica. Practices of IPLC that are significant for biocultural 14
approaches to pollinator conservation can be grouped into three categories: the practice of valuing 15
diversity and fostering biocultural diversity; landscape management practices; and diversified 16
farming systems. Particular IPLCs may use some or all of these practices. Policies that recognise 17
customary tenure over traditional lands, strengthen Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas, 18
promote heritage listing and support diversified farming within a food sovereignty approach, are 19
among several identified that strengthen biocultural approaches to pollinator conservation, and 20
thereby deliver mutual benefits for pollinators and people. 21
a
Here we follow the global norm of using lower case for “indigenous” while recognising the norm in Australia and New
Zealand is to use upper case, following Johnson, J.T. et al. (2007) Creating anti-colonial geographies: Embracing indigenous
peoples' knowledges and rights. Geographical Research 45 (2), 117-120.

2
22
23
24
25
Keywords: biocultural diversity, indigenous peoples, local communities, conservation, biodiversity, 26
governance, cultural values 27
28

3
Introduction 29
Pollinators are integral to a good quality of life for people globally, contributing to sustainable 30
livelihoods, maintenance of ecosystem health and function, food production, cultural, spiritual and 31
social values
1
. Inclusive policy for their conservation requires innovative, multiscale assessments that 32
include evidence from science and other knowledge systems
2
. Yet conservation science has often 33
neglected societies’ values, world views and knowledge systems and ignored culturally-grounded 34
approaches
3
. In this context, biocultural approaches to conservation, which explicitly build on local 35
cultural perspectives and recognize feedbacks between ecosystems and quality of life, have emerged 36
as key to the necessary inclusivity
4
. Biocultural approaches are underpinned by the concept of 37
biocultural diversity, which recognises that culture and biodiversity are linked and may be mutually 38
constituted
5
. Indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) are integral to the biocultural 39
diversity that has developed in ecosystems over millennia, including large areas of the globe, many 40
with high biodiversity, over which IPLCs have management responsibility
6
. The Intergovernmental 41
Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services (IPBES) is promoting inclusivity in 42
assessments through the IPBES Conceptual Framework
5
, their valuation approaches
7
, and by 43
providing space for context-specific culturally-grounded ways of assessing nature’s contributions to 44
people (NCP)
8
. In this paper, we provide the first global analysis and review of current literature 45
about biocultural approaches to pollinator conservation, drawing on and augmenting work 46
undertaken for the first IPBES assessment
9
. 47
48
For the first time in any global environmental assessment, the IPBES global pollination assessment 49
included indigenous and local knowledge (ILK)
b
. This incorporation of ILK focused on the 50
contributions of pollination and pollinators to two elements of the IPBES Conceptual Framework—51
good quality of life and nature’s contributions to people
10
. For this paper, we analyse biocultural 52
approaches, based on ILK, according to all six elements of the IPBES Conceptual Framework (CF)
5
53
(Figure 1). We focus on the knowledge of IPLCs, both groups identified essentially by their (multi-54
scalar) linkages with their traditional territories (see Methods, Box 1). Our analysis demonstrates 55
that practices of IPLCs that are significant for pollinator conservation can be grouped into three 56
categories: (1) the practice of valuing diversity and fostering biocultural diversity; (2) landscape 57
management practices; and (3) diversified farming systems. Particular IPLCs may use some or all of 58
these practices. Seven policies to strengthen these approaches are presented, followed by 59
concluding comments about implications for future science and policy. Methods for analysis, 60
literature review and (self)-identification of IPLCs are presented at the end of the article. 61
Results of the Analysis 62
All six elements of the IPBES CF are presented in Figure 1(a); and Figure 1 (b) presents the analysis of 63
IPLCs’ biocultural approaches to pollinator conservation into these elements, which includes 64
b
Indigenous and local knowledge is defined here in accordance with Diaz et al. 2015 as “A cumulative body of
knowledge, practice and belief, evolving by adaptive processes and handed down through generations by
cultural transmission, about the relationship of living beings (including humans) with one another and with
their environment. It is also referred to by other terms such as, for example, Indigenous, local or traditional
knowledge, traditional ecological/environmental knowledge (TEK), farmers’ or shers’ knowledge,
ethnoscience, indigenous science, folk science.”

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