Enhancing our understanding of Biocultural diversity and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada


UBC campus has many initiatives to address cultural diversity, however there are few opportunities to discuss the benefits of biocultural diversity; this limitation infringes the ability to benefit and contribute from it.

The creation of opportunities to explore the meaning of biocultural diversity and ways to engage in healthy dialogue, debate, and challenges .....

This case study aims to foster the dialogue about biocultural understanding as a core competency to contribute to social and environmental sustainability. Furthermore, the case study aims contribute to the removal of barriers to the sharing and celebration of cultural and biological richness, and the impacting on the UBC community.

The interactive design and use of information technology tools of the case study should promote and enhance accessibility of the physical and biological environments at UBC. Furthermore, it will expand opportunities to safely express opinions on issues related to cultural and biological diversity at all levels of the university.


Historical Context

Artificial swamp habitat and indigenous totem pole

UBC has embraced diversity as a value, however historically many groups of society remained marginalized and excluded for a big part of its history (e.g., Aboriginal people). This exclusion took many systematic forms of exclusion including social, economic, policy development, and impact the development of the campus physical environments, biological diversity health and sustainability, and organizational policies, procedures and practices.

The impact of loss of biocultural diversity over the last 100 years continues to manifest in different forms and there is a lack of appropriate venues to address fundamental issuers impacting social sustainability, human rights, and Aboriginal Rights. UBC has stated values of integrity, mutual respect equity and the public interest in its Vision Statements and strategic plans. However, the links to the importance of biocultural diversity to the are not taken in account in the integration of physical development, social responsibility, and strategic planning.



With a student, staff, and faculty representing over 140 countries and a rich temperate rainforest ecosystem (a unique in the world and possible threaten) this case study can contribute to illustrate the benefits of biocultural conservation and the fostering of social sustainability. A dialogue centered on the importance of biocultural diversity, sustainability, and conservation will contribute to achieving UBC commitments, accountability and honesty, and aspirations to social and shared responsibility and innovation. Achieving such developments may require an adjustment in practices, policies and human interactions with the physical and biological environment., including the increasing the competency of its population in understanding and practicing biocultural diversity sustainability.


Websites: Indigenous Research Partnerships Indigenous video collection

Agnoletti Article [1]

Gavin Article [2]

Buizer Article [3]

Frascaroli Article [4]

Nakamura Article [5]

Andersson Article [6]

Mackey, B and Claudie D. [7]

Jovel Article [8]

Backes Article [9]

Clavet-Mirab Article [10]

Pretty Article [11]

Frascaroli Article [12]

Elands Article [13]


  1. Agnoletti, M and Emanueli, F. (2016). Biocultural Diversity and Landscape in Europe: Framing the Issue, Volume (V). Page 1. Retrieved from:*~hmac=9243c725c146d6bed76b06dc5157088ef38d2a614d62d19e5b8559af99126a43 Buizer, M, Elands, B and Mattijssen, T. (2015). The governance of urban green spaces in selected EU-cities: Policies, Practices, Actors, Topics. Green Surge. Retrieved from: packages/wp6/files/Buizer_et_al_2015_D6.1_GREEN_SURGE_The_governance_of_urban_green_spaces_in_selected_EU_cities.pdf
  2. C Gavin, M, McCarter, J, Mead, A. (2015). Defining biocultural approaches to conservation. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Volume (30). Retrieved from:
  3. Buizer, M, Elands, B and Vierikko, K. Governing cities reflexively-The biocultural diversity concept as an alternative to ecosystem services, Science Direct. Retrieved from:
  4. Frascaroli, F, Frascaroli, F and Verschuuren, B. (2016). Biocultural Diversity in Europe. Springer. Retrieved from
  5. Hashimoto, S, Nakamura, S, Saito, O. (2015). Mapping and characterizing ecosystem services of social-ecological production landscapes: case study of Noto Japan, Sustainability Science .Retrieved from:
  6. Andersson, E and Barthel, S. (2016). Memory carriers and stewardship of metropolitan landscapes, Stockholm Resilience Centre. Retrieved from:
  7. (2015). Points of Contact: Integrating Traditional and Scientific Knowledge for Biocultural Conservation, Environmental Ethics. Retrieved from:
  8. Jovel, Eduardo M., José Cabanillas, and G. H. N. Towers. "An ethnobotanical study of the traditional medicine of the Mestizo people of Suni Mirano, Loreto, Peru." Journal of ethnopharmacology 53.3 (1996): 149-156.
  9. Backes, Martina M. (2001) The role of indigenous trees for the conservation of biocultural diversity in traditional agroforestry land use systems: The Bungoma case study In-situ conservation of indigenous tree species . Agroforestry Systems. 52(1), 119-113. Retrieved from:
  10. Calvet-Mirab, L., Riue-Bosoma, C., González-Puentea, M. et. al. (2016). The Transmission of Home Garden Knowledge: Safeguarding Biocultural Diversity and Enhancing Social-Ecological Resilience. Society & Natural Resources: An International Journal, 29(5). Retrieved from:
  11. Pretty, J., Adams, B. and Berkes, F. et. al. (2009). The Intersections of Biological Diversity and Cultural Diversity: Towards Integration. Conservation and Society. 7(2), 100-112. Retrieved from:;year=2009;volume=7;issue=2;spage=100;epage=112;aulast=Pretty
  12. Frascaroli, F., Bhagwat, S. and Guarino, R. et. al. (May 2006). Shrines in Central Italy conserve plant diversity and large trees. Ambio, 45(4), 468-479. Retrieved from:
  13. Elands, B., Wiersum, K., and Buijs, A. et al. (2015). Policy interpretations and manifestation of biocultural diversity in urbanized Europe: conservation of lived biodiversity. Biodiversity and 24(130), 3347-3366. Retrieved from:

What would an ethnobotanist do?

Facilitate the bridging of different world views and ways of knowing. Contribute to create dialogue environments inclusive of plant biological diversity and its cultural uses. Offer tours to discuss land issues, local indigenous knowledge, and local cultures (Indigenous and others)

Teaching Resources

What would an XX Do?

Teaching Resources