The intersection of the cultural and the ecological highlighted in the previous post, including the ways that artists and cultural practitioners engage with cultural dimensions of biodiversity, in this case manifest in language, engages the cultural sector directly with understanding and articulating ecosystem services. Ecosystem Services and the associated assessments provide a critical method used across environmental research and management. Too often the cultural dimension has been focused by tourism and the role of the arts and culture in opening up understandings of ecosystems has been overlooked.
Dave Pritchard contextualised the Ecosystem Services and the Gaelic language report(NatureScot 2021) in relation to wider policy work being done by different bodies. In terms of language and ecosystems, he highlights:
The cultural services chapter of the status & trends volume of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment places languages in the ecosystem services context – https://www.millenniumassessment.org/documents/document.286.aspx.pdf .
The UK National Ecosystem Assessment produced an excellent report on cultural services http://uknea.unep-wcmc.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=t884TkrbVbQ%3D&tabid=82 . It combines linguistics in the sense of vocabularies with linguistics in the sense of distinct languages.
In the wider context of language as part of intangible cultural heritage, Dave highlights:
The United Nations 2003 ‘Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage’.
There has been specific work to highlight the relationship between intangible cultural heritage and sustainable development (publication in English here other languages also available). UNESCO have developed an interactive interface highlighting the connections between specific exemplary intangible heritage including dance, rituals, festivals and other forms, and the Sustainable Development Goals.
UNESCO and the Convention on Biological Diversity have joint programme and have identified a range of resources https://www.cbd.int/lbcd/resources including publications on cultural and spiritual values of biodiversity. There is more information on the programme here https://www.cbd.int/lbcd/about.
According to Dave, internationally the pre-eminent organisation is Terralingua which promotes understanding and appreciation of the vital value of the world’s biocultural diversity for the thriving of all life on earth.— the diversity of life in nature and culture.
There is also the International Ecolinguistics Association, and its journal Language & Ecology – http://www.ecoling.net/ .
In a Scottish specific context he highlighted Museums Galleries Scotland’s report ‘Scoping and Mapping Intangible Cultural Heritage in Scotland Final Report (PDF)‘ from 2008 (which is on the website of the Fair Scotland, celebrating Scotland’s Show People).
ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.
It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge Research, Gray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.
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