Environmental Ethics

Volume 30, Issue 3, Fall 2008

Integrating Ecological Sciences and Environmental Ethics into Biocultural Conservation in South American Temperate Sub-Antarctic Ecosystems

Ricardo Rozzi, Ximena Arango, Francisca Massardo, Christopher Anderson, Kurt Heidinger, Kelli Moses
Pages 325-336

Field Environmental Philosophy and Biocultural Conservation
The Omora Ethnobotanical Park Educational Program

Habitats (where we live), habits (how we live), and inhabitants (who we are) constitute an ecosystem unit. The biosphere is composed of a reticulate mosaic of these habitat-habit-inhabitant units, where humans (with their indigenous languages, ecological knowledge, and practices) have coevolved. Today, these diverse ecosystem units are being violently destroyed by the imposition of a single global colonial cultural model. In Cape Horn at the southern end of the Americas, educators, authorities, and decision makers do not know about the native habitats, language, and flora, and do not distinguish between Cape Horn’s flora and the flora that grows in other parts of the country or the world. In contrast, indigenous people and old residents have a detailed knowledge, but they do not participate in education, and decision making. It is not Homo sapiens in general, but bioculturally biased educators, authorities, and decision makers who need to be transformed into (educated and responsible) members and citizen of biocultural communities. The Omora Ethnobotanical Park educational program was launched to contribute to a biocultural citizenship involving three critical steps: (1) the disclosing of biocultural diversity with a “fine filter” approach that permits understanding of the cultural and ecological diversity hidden by general universal labels; (2) direct “face-to-face” encounters with human and nonhuman co-inhabitants; and (3) actions for protection of habitats and implementation of interpretative spaces that facilitate direct encounters and conservation of biocultural diversity. These steps have been implemented at local and regional scales through the creation of the Omora Ethnobotanical Park and the UNESCO Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve.