Biocultural Approaches to Resilience Across Scales main content.

Biocultural Approaches to Resilience Across Scales

Biocultural approaches start with and build upon local values, knowledge, and needs while recognizing the interplay between the cultural and biological parts of a system. At the CBC, we use these approaches to collaborate with communities and explore how to manage and adapt for resilience in a way that is culturally appropriate and can be communicated at the national and international levels.

The CBC has several active projects aimed at supporting biocultural approaches to management across scales. On a global level, we look at how people think about and use biocultural approaches in order to improve our understanding of the variety of tools and techniques in use. On a regional Pacific-wide basis, our work aims to bridge linguistic, cultural, and disciplinary divides by providing an opportunity for sharing of information and best practices regarding small island nation settings. Lastly, at the local level our focus is on fostering the use of locally-grounded knowledge and values for appropriate monitoring, while also providing the opportunity for peer-to-peer comparison of metrics and outcomes.

Men working together in the field in the Solomon Islands
Garden survey with local partners in Zaira, Solomon Island, assessing soil health and pest abundance and training community rangers in research techniques. 
© Joe McCarter CBC/AMNH

A Biocultural Approach to Indicator Development

Effective monitoring and evaluation are fundamental to understanding the success of conservation and sustainable management projects. However, often the tools and indicators used to assess community-level resilience are developed with little to no input from those very communities. When local voices are not adequately represented at the national and international level, this disconnect can lead to the development and use of evaluative metrics that are inconsistent with local realities and needs. 

Across projects, we are developing indicators and frameworks for indicators that accurately reflect local realities and also can translate to the global level. At the global level, we are also working to understand how people and organizations are currently using biocultural indicator metrics, what works best under what conditions, and where there are knowledge gaps or areas for further strengthening. This calls for an iterative process, requiring conceptual thinking across different scales spanning global, regional, and more in-depth on-the-ground piloting which in turn re-informs global and regional discussions.

The CBC's work on biocultural indicators is led by Chief Conservation Scientist, Dr. Eleanor Sterling. Watch her Yale Wilbur Cross Medal Lecture on the CBC's biocultural work, given while she was honored as one of the 2016 recipients of the prestigious award.

Partners and collaborators: