Too often conservation projects are imposed from the top onto local communities with little genuine local involvement. A recent article compares an area of common land at St Breward on the edge of Bodmin Moor with a community in western Galicia. It calls for more understanding of local knowledge and traditional management practices when undertaking conservation projects.
It states that despite ‘growing evidence of how indigenous peoples and local communities, through their knowledge and traditional management practices, play an active and effective role in ecosystem restoration, carbon sequestration and prevention of environmental degradation, such groups continue to be considered mostly as passive recipients of restoration work while their cultural practices remain ignored.’
It also expands the definition of cultural heritage to include the biological make-up of heritage sites, something that is termed ‘biological cultural heritage’. Given the amount of litter that we see casually discarded in heritage sites these days one could be a little cynical about the ability or willingness of local communities to respond to the call to preserve their biological heritage. Are too many of us now too alienated from our natural environment?