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.

Sign up for quarterly updates on new content

All information submitted is protected by IIED's privacy policy.

Latest news and blogs

If the world is to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030, we must support Indigenous Peoples and local communities to strengthen and protect their territories and cultures, and ensure their full and meaningful participation in developing conservation policy.

From 22-24 March 2023, 10,000 people gathered in New York for the UN Water Conference, hosted by the Netherlands and Tajikistan, to scale up action to address the water crisis and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6 on clean water and sanitation.

Mountains crucial to halting nature loss and addressing climate change.

Traditional landscapes conserved by Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPLCs) across different ecosystems sustain vital ecosystem services and can deliver large-scale emission reductions. Yet despite being highly vulnerable to climate impacts, IPLCs still receive only a tiny fraction of climate aid. COP27 must provide urgent financial support to IPLC-governed organisations to protect these vital but threatened landscapes.

Projects and outputs

A group photo
As part of IIED's series looking at how the people and organisations working with the institute are successfully creating change, AsociaciĆ³n ANDES, a Peruvian NGO that combines local-level support for Andean potato farming communities with international action on protecting Indigenous Peoples and biodiversity, is profiled.
An elderly woman in a field holds crops in the air with both hands
IIED is working with partners in the UK, China, India and Kenya to establish a new partnership and network for interdisciplinary research on Indigenous food systems.