Season 1, Chatroom 19

3 Ways Indigenous Wisdom Protects Biodiversity

Indigenous people’s take on the world’s biodiversity varies very much from Western science. For example, traditional societies believe that Nature is interconnected and we can commune with all living beings. In this conception, humans are a part of a bigger whole. This relationship with nature can protect the world’s biodiversity, as evidenced by a startling statistic — more than 80% of the world’s remaining intact biodiversity is on indigenous land. 

In this bonus episode, we speak with Tero Mustonen, a geographer and lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s landmark report on climate change released last month. Mustonen is also the head of the Selkie village in Finland.

Mustonen tells us about what biodiversity is in indigenous systems, and how the approach taken by Western science to understand Nature is limited by what scientists can measure. Indigenous communities can contribute to science, and guide scientists and policymakers about the right choices to make.

Time Markers (mins: sec)

  • 00:41 – Tero Mustonen intro
  • 1:13 – Ask the bees!
  • 2:00 – Intro to the episode
  • 3:07 – Convention on Biological Diversity
  • 3:42 – How to measure biodiversity
  • 3:55 – What is biodiversity for indigenous people?
  • 5:30 – Problematic history of biodiversity science
  • 7:30 – Indigenous history can contribute to science
  • 8:09 – Indigenous wisdom can help with decisionmaking

Podcast Guest

Tero Mustonen

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Reading List

Alexander, C. et al. Linking Indigenous and Scientific Knowledge of Climate Change. BioScience 61, 477–484 (2011).

Johnson, N. et al. The Contributions of Community-Based Monitoring and Traditional Knowledge to Arctic Observing Networks: Reflections on the State of the Field. ARCTIC 68, 28 (2015).

Ogar, E., Pecl, G. & Mustonen, T. Science Must Embrace Traditional and Indigenous Knowledge to Solve Our Biodiversity Crisis. One Earth 3, 162–165 (2020).

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