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

Leaders at COP29 urged to ‘significantly’ increase funding given directly to groups conserving precious resources and ecosystems.

In November 2023, IIED, INMIP, ANDES (Peru) and partners organised side events at two global policy meetings on traditional knowledge and genetic resources: the Biodiversity Convention Working Group on Article 8J, and the FAO Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources.

An approach to development practice from the Indigenous cultures of the Andes that promotes ecological harmony.

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.

Projects and outputs

The International Network of Mountain Indigenous Peoples (INMIP) brings together mountain communities from 11 countries as they seek to revitalise biocultural heritage for climate-resilient and sustainable food systems. IIED provides communications, advocacy and capacity support for INMIP.
A group of people sit on the floor under a tree.
This project aims to protect biodiversity and improve livelihoods in the Mijikenda’s sacred Kaya forest landscapes in Kenya. It will establish a biocultural heritage territory that empowers Kaya elders to enforce traditional conservation rules and promote agroecological practices.