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Cultural Values: a review of policies and practices

Siamese crocodile hatchling. Credit: Jeremy Holden/FFI
Written by: Mark Infield
Other posts by Mark Infield

A review of policies and practices designed to integrate cultural values into conservation initiatives

Download Cultural Values Review: 2013 (PDF)


Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has a long history of working with local communities to engage them in our conservation work.

Implicit in much of our engagement with communities has been recognition that culture and values link communities to nature, and their natural world.

Perhaps the best known example of this is our work on the Siamese crocodile, but many of the species we work to conserve are understood to be ‘cultural flagships’ for local communities, species that have a special significance and which link people to the natural world and connect them to their place.

Links between people & nature

In 2005 FFI began work in partnership with the Uganda Wildlife Authority on a project designed to explicitly recognise the importance of cultural links between people and nature and to integrate them actively into conservation activities. Based on lessons learned from this project FFI started the Cultural Values Initiative to mainstream the integration of cultural values across its conservation programme.

Interest in culture and conservation has grown steadily since Darrell Posey led establishment of the International Society of Ethnobotany. The Declaration of Belém, released in 1988, states “…there is an inextricable link between cultural and biological diversity.”

This understanding has led to the concept of biocultural diversity – the diversity of life in all its manifestations, biological and cultural -and recognition of the need to integrate the conservation of biodiversity and cultural diversity.

Though this concept has yet to strongly influence the day-to-day of biodiversity conservation policy and practice, there is a growing interest in how cultural connections to nature can support more effective achievement of conservation.

This report (PDF) provides a short background to the development of cultural values approaches to conservation and reviews the work of organisations in developing and implementing these approaches.

Written by
Mark Infield

After graduating with a degree in zoology in 1980, Mark took off for Kenya, thus beginning a 30 year career in conservation. Mark has worked for NGOs, governments, universities and private companies to develop his interest in the connections between protected areas and the communities who effect or are effected by them. Picking up an MSc and a PhD along the way, he's worked to promote innovations in the way conservation managers interact with local communities. In 2002, following ten years as advisor to the Uganda Wildlife Authority, Mark joined FFI’s Asia-Pacific programme, returning to the UK in 2011 to design and develop the Cultural Values & Conservation Programme, a further extension of his ongoing commitment to improving conservation delivery through meaningful engagement with communities and their values.

Other posts by Mark Infield
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