The Biocultural Diversity Lab focuses on the Local Ecological Knowledge (LEK), a set of knowledge related to the environment, shared within communities in a specific place. The Biocultural Diversity Lab research has a specific focus on ethnobotany and ethnobiology. The Biocultural Diversity Lab was born during the implementation of the ERC project ‘Divided Generations’ (ERC-StG-2016 DiGe), which carried out research on the medicinal and food uses of plants among different ethnic groups in Eastern and Northern Europe divided during creation or following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, examining the impact of sources, medicine, education, and laws governing their use.
The focal points of the permanent activities of the Biocultural Diversity Lab are the evolution of knowledge based on the relationships between humans and the environment, both today and in past centuries, through various qualitative and quantitative methods. The application of the results of the research of the Biocultural Diversity Lab is education, the development of local products, participatory conservation strategies, and policy suggestions.
a) DiGe has clearly demonstrated the devastating effect of Russian occupation on the LEK of the studied traditional societies/minor ethnic groups. We detected erosion, homogenization and standardization of the knowledge within state borders and cross-border differences in knowledge transmission. We will continue studying the medicinal plant use in the researched area, looking for common patterns and the effects of literature and the official Soviet medical system on local ethnomedicine.
b) The research on the people-nature relations in migration concentrates on the historical Italian migrants to Brazil, exploring the specific plant species that were brought, adapted, or learnt from the local environments, the techniques used for cultivation, and the cultural and social factors that influenced these practices. The ultimate goal of the research is to identify best practices for bicultural conservation considering the local identities and to inform policy and decision-making in this area.
c) Fishery practices of Laguna di Venezia in Italy and Laguna di Bay in the Philippines are studied from the perspective of the local fishers, involving them as experts in identifying the drivers of changes (both climate and anthropogenic) and searching for sustainable and community-friendly solutions.