Biocultural Heritage

Promoting resilient farming systems and local economies

IIED logo

A research framework

The research team for the Protecting Community Rights over Traditional Knowledge: Implications of Customary Laws and Practices project adopted the concept of 'collective biocultural heritage' as the common vision to link the work in Peru, Panama, India, China and Kenya.

Based on this, the project developed a conceptual framework for assessing the conditions and trends affecting traditional knowledge, and the responses needed to address these.


The concept of collective biocultural heritage has proved useful for action research on traditional knowledge in different contexts, particularly for:

  • understanding complex traditional knowledge systems in the field, “because things are so inter-connected”

  • identifying the many different threats to traditional knowledge

  • designing tools to protect traditional knowledge (eg community protocols and registers) that also strengthen biocultural resources for subsistence

  • providing communities with a vision for reviving their traditional knowledge and biocultural heritage

  • communicating with communities, policy makers and others.


For more information see:

Protecting community rights over traditional knowledge. Research Partners' Workshop, Panama, November 2007. Also in Spanish.