Themes and Projects
“Culture should be regarded as the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group, and that it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs.” (UNESCO, 2002)
Ordinary people all over the Mediterranean Basin are the keepers of extraordinary traditional ecological knowledge – knowledge which has until now gone largely unacknowledged by the conservation community, and yet surely holds the key to a more sustainable future in the Mediterranean.
Through undertaking a Rapid Assessment of cultural practices in the Basin, we’ve identified common themes beneficial to nature across the region which are in decline. Below are the themes we are currently working on.
How do we define a cultural practice?
Taking the broadest definition of culture, how do we decide what is a cultural practice? Some simple criteria include:
1. Distinct Cultural Practice
Is the practice evidently based on cultural values and value systems that can be identified, that differentiate it from other practices in the same place or area?
2. Authenticity / Integrity
Is the practice an authentic endeavour embedded in a community?
Does the practice occur in areas of high biodiversity value?
Does the practice contribute, directly or indirectly, to the conservation of biodiversity and/or the sustainable use of natural resources? Does the practice contribute to the Traditional Ecological Knowledge of a region?
Does the practice have longevity and therefore has it been sustainable to date? What is the likelihood of its existence in the future?
6. Added Value
What can we practically do, as an interdisciplinary team, to support this practice?
Mobile pastoralism is the movement of people and livestock through the landscape in search of water and pasture, and includes different practices such as transhumance, semi-nomadic and nomadic pastoralism and certain practices of extensive grazing – all involving people, herds and movement, and all having a positive impact on nature and biodiversity.
Traditional fishing techniques have been practiced in the Mediterranean for thousands of years and can be found all across the region. These small scale practices, well adapted to their particular environment, have proven to be sustainable as they don’t over-harvest fish and seafood – yet today many are threatened and in decline due to the presence of large scale fisheries and declining fish stocks.