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Conservation through Biocultural Heritage—Examples from Sub-Saharan Africa

Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, African and Comparative Archaeology, Uppsala University, Box 626, SE-751 26 Uppsala, Sweden
Natural Resources and Sustainable Development, Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, Villavägen 16, 75236 Uppsala, Sweden
Plant Conservation Unit, Botany Department, University of Cape Town, Private Bag X3, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa
Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3DZ, UK
School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg 2000, South Africa
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 November 2018 / Revised: 21 December 2018 / Accepted: 23 December 2018 / Published: 2 January 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity and Protected Areas)
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In this paper, we review the potential of biocultural heritage in biodiversity protection and agricultural innovation in sub-Saharan Africa. We begin by defining the concept of biocultural heritage into four interlinked elements that are revealed through integrated landscape analysis. This concerns the transdisciplinary methods whereby biocultural heritage must be explored, and here we emphasise that reconstructing landscape histories and documenting local heritage values needs to be an integral part of the process. Ecosystem memories relate to the structuring of landscape heterogeneity through such activities as agroforestry and fire management. The positive linkages between living practices, biodiversity and soil nutrients examined here are demonstrative of the concept of ecosystem memories. Landscape memories refer to built or enhanced landscapes linked to specific land-use systems and property rights. Place memories signify practices of protection or use related to a specific place. Customary protection of burial sites and/or abandoned settlements, for example, is a common occurrence across Africa with beneficial outcomes for biodiversity and forest protection. Finally, we discuss stewardship and change. Building on local traditions, inclusivity and equity are essential to promoting the continuation and innovation of practices crucial for local sustainability and biodiversity protection, and also offer new avenues for collaboration in landscape management and conservation. View Full-Text
Keywords: biocultural heritage; sub-Saharan Africa; traditional ecological knowledge; hotspots; sacred forests; conservation biocultural heritage; sub-Saharan Africa; traditional ecological knowledge; hotspots; sacred forests; conservation

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Ekblom, A.; Shoemaker, A.; Gillson, L.; Lane, P.; Lindholm, K.-J. Conservation through Biocultural Heritage—Examples from Sub-Saharan Africa. Land 2019, 8, 5.

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