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

27 Mar 2014

Article in Langscape Magazine explores these concepts in the context of the SIFOR project.

A side event hosted by the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) this week called on negotiators at the World Intellectual Property Organization to include innovation by small-scale farmers and asked for complementarity of several international instruments dealing with this issue.

The film "Planting for Change" tells the story of how farmers in Guangxi and Yunnan provinces have responded to climatic adversity by using their own innovations and biocultural heritage – and by improving this heritage by working with scientists on participatory plant breeding projects.

Local newspaper reports on the innovations identified by SIFOR project communities in Kilifi and Kwale counties.

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.