Biocultural Diversity and the Diverse City: A Model for Linking Nature and Culture

  • 2015•09•04

    In his latest essay for the online forum, The Nature of Cities, William Dunbar (Communications Expert, UNU-IAS) explores the complex interactions between biological and cultural diversity in urban environments. Acknowledging the already well-accepted notion that cultural diversity is deeply rooted in nature, Dunbar argues that the relationship between cultural and biological diversity is not a one-way, but a two-way process ― meaning that cultural diversity can actually lead to higher biological diversity. He illustrates this with an example of how human production activities characterized by diverse traditional knowledge systems and the surrounding nature can produce a diverse mosaic of land and sea uses (also known as satoyama and satoumi in Japanese).

    He also highlights the work of a UNU-IAS Operating Unit Ishikawa Kanazawa (OUIK) research project that focuses on how the tangible and intangible aspects of culture ― specifically that of Kanazawa City, Japan ― are influenced by the ecological conditions of surrounding rural areas and vice versa. He adds that OUIK has played a major role in mobilizing recognition of the Ishikawa-Kanazawa area as a model for promoting biocultural diversity, both in urban areas and in terms of the ties between urban and rural environments.