Biocultural Heritage

Promoting resilient farming systems and local economies

IIED logo

About this website

Biocultural Heritage (BCH) refers to the knowledge and practices of indigenous people and their biological resources, from the genetic varieties of crops they develop, to the landscapes they create. As indigenous peoples have adapted to harsh climates over many generations, this heritage is important for food security in the face of climate change.

This website shows how the concept of biocultural heritage can be used to protect the bundle of rights that support indigenous peoples and local communities. It provides tools to protect and promote biocultural heritage, such as community protocols and Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS) partnerships. It shares research developed through Protecting Community Rights over Traditional Knowledge and Smallholder Innovation for Resilience. It reviews policies to protect BCH at international and national level.

Stay in touch

Our editorial team send out a quarterly email digest. Sign up for updates.

We respect your privacy so will never pass on your email. You can cancel any time, just send us a message via the contact page.

Latest news and blogs

TWN Info Service on Intellectual Property and Agriculture
4 March 2016

Zhu Zhenyan (Third World Network) describes important aspects of the final revision.

This 30 minute film, produced by indigenous filmmakers in Taiwan, documents the emergence of a new global indigenous network - the International Network of Mountain Indigenous Peoples (INMIP) - at a ‘walking workshop’ in Bhutan in May-June 2014. The network aims to strengthen the capacity of indigenous mountain communities to confront climate change through exchange of indigenous knowledge and seeds, and strengthening biocultural heritage and indigenous farming systems.

The Paris Agreement commits governments to climate action. To deliver this agenda successfully, they must engage with all sectors of society, including indigenous peoples, and recognise traditional knowledge.

Respect for the spiritual values and traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples is a key component in the response to climate change, as was today asserted by an agreement between the Center for Earth Ethics (CEE) of Union Theological Seminary, the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED) at Columbia University, and the Indigenous Peoples Biocultural Assessments Initiative (IPBCCA) of Asociacion ANDES.

Projects and outputs

A herbalist providing information on medicinal and food plants occurring in Kaya Kinondo

This five-year project (2012-2017) aims to strengthen biocultural innovation for food security in the face of climate change, in China, India, Kenya and Peru.

Indian musicians

This participatory action-research project in China, India, Kenya, Panama and Peru (2004-2009) developed the concept of Collective Biocultural Heritage as its common framework for research.