Biodiv Sci ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (8): 1120-1127.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2020480

Special Issue: 生物入侵

• Original Papers: Cultural Diversity • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Applications of Wa traditional culture in biodiversity conservation

Hua Shao1,2, Jingbiao Yang1,2,*(), Dayuan Xue1,2,*()   

  1. 1 College of Life and Environmental Sciences, Minzu University of China, Beijing 100081
    2 Key Laboratory of Ecology and Environment in Minority Areas, Minzu University of China, National Ethnic Affairs Commission, Beijing 100081
  • Received:2020-12-25 Accepted:2021-04-09 Online:2021-08-20 Published:2021-07-27
  • Contact: Jingbiao Yang,Dayuan Xue


Aims: There is an emerging recognition that cultural diversity and biodiversity are inherently linked. Wa people have formed a rich culture in the long process of utilization and management of biological resources from local areas. This study reports the wild plants traditionally used by Wa people and related traditional culture. It is of great significance to understand the interaction between Wa traditional culture and biodiversity for sustainable development of the community.

Methods: We investigated the wild plants traditionally used by Wa people and their culture in Cangyuan and Ximeng autonomous counties by a semi-structured interview method to gather the plant inventory and culture information.

Results: The wild plants traditionally used by Wa people are abundant, and are the basis for their traditional diet, medicine, clothing, and architectural culture. The ecological view, customary law, and customs of Wa people based on nature worship are constantly promoting the conservation and sustainable utilization of biodiversity in the local areas. Local governments have made efforts to protect the traditional culture and knowledge. For example, intangible cultural heritage projects have been applied to facilitate industrial development for poverty alleviation and rural revitalization. The factors of cultural diversity loss include marketization and urbanization, lifestyle changes, weak protection consciousness, and invasion of foreign culture. Local communities' incompetence to transform characteristic biological resources into ecological products also restricts the sustainable utilization of bioresources.

Recommendations: Our recommendations include improving policies and regulations for traditional knowledge and culture, establishing databases of traditional knowledge, strengthening publicity activities and education to enhance the awareness of protection and inheritance, facilitating scientific knowledge research and professional experts training. Overall, promoting cultural diversity could be a promising approach for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of bioresources in the ethnic minority areas.

Key words: traditional culture, biodiversity conservation, Wa people, Yunnan Province, China