2 January 2019
Ekblom A, Shoemaker A, Gillson L, Lane P, Lindholm K-L. 2019. Conservation through Biocultural Heritage—Examples from Sub-Saharan Africa. Land 8(1), 5.
In this paper, we review the potential of biocultural heritage in biodiversity protection and agricultural innovation in sub-Saharan Africa. We begin by defining the concept of biocultural heritage into four interlinked elements that are revealed through integrated landscape analysis. This concerns the transdisciplinary methods whereby biocultural heritage must be explored, and here we emphasise that reconstructing landscape histories and documenting local heritage values needs to be an integral part of the process. Ecosystem memories relate to the structuring of landscape heterogeneity through such activities as agroforestry and fire management. The positive linkages between living practices, biodiversity and soil nutrients examined here are demonstrative of the concept of ecosystem memories. Landscape memories refer to built or enhanced landscapes linked to specific land-use systems and property rights. Place memories signify practices of protection or use related to a specific place. Customary protection of burial sites and/or abandoned settlements, for example, is a common occurrence across Africa with beneficial outcomes for biodiversity and forest protection. Finally, we discuss stewardship and change. Building on local traditions, inclusivity and equity are essential to promoting the continuation and innovation of practices crucial for local sustainability and biodiversity protection, and also offer new avenues for collaboration in landscape management and conservation.