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Biocultural Refugia: Combating the Erosion of Diversity in Landscapesof Food Production
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of History. Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre. Uppsala University, Sweden; Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
2013 (English)In: Ecology & society, ISSN 1708-3087, Vol. 18, no 4, UNSP 71- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

There is urgent need to both reduce the rate of biodiversity loss caused by industrialized agriculture and feed morepeople. The aim of this paper is to highlight the role of places that harbor traditional ecological knowledge, artifacts, and methodswhen preserving biodiversity and ecosystem services in landscapes of food production. We use three examples in Europe ofbiocultural refugia, defined as the physical places that not only shelter farm biodiversity, but also carry knowledge and experiencesabout practical management of how to produce food while stewarding biodiversity and ecosystem services. Memory carriersinclude genotypes, landscape features, oral, and artistic traditions and self-organized systems of rules, and as such reflect adiverse portfolio of practices on how to deal with unpredictable change. We find that the rich biodiversity of many regionallydistinct cultural landscapes has been maintained through different smallholder practices developed in relation to localenvironmental fluctuations and carried within biocultural refugia for as long as millennia. Places that transmit traditionalecological knowledge and practices hold important lessons for policy makers since they may provide genetic and culturalreservoirs — refugia — for the wide array of species that have co-evolved with humans in Europe for more than 6000 thousandyrs. Biodiversity restoration projects in domesticated landscapes can employ the biophysical elements and cultural practicesembedded in biocultural refugia to create locally adapted small-scale mosaics of habitats that allow species to flourish and adaptto change. We conclude that such insights must be included in discussions of land-sparing vs. land-sharing when producingmore food while combating loss of biodiversity. We found the latter strategy rational in domesticated landscapes with a longhistory of agriculture

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 18, no 4, UNSP 71- p.
Keyword [en]
agriculture, biocultural refugia, diversity, ecosystem restoration, resilience, small holders, stewardship
National Category
Environmental Sciences Ecology
Research subject
Natural Resources Management
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-99318DOI: 10.5751/ES-06207-180471ISI: 000329431700071OAI: diva2:686669
Available from: 2014-01-13 Created: 2014-01-13 Last updated: 2014-10-02Bibliographically approved

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