In this picture, young and old Maasai from the Kenyan Rift Valley sit together by the campfire while the ancients tell stories to the boys. With the stories, they also pass on knowledge about their environment to the next generation. This is exactly what scientists want to promote - with "storytelling projects". Àlvaro Fernández-Llamazares and Mar Cabeza from the University of Helsinki see storytelling as a promising way of preserving the biological and cultural diversity of a region. They urge conservation and environmentalists to use the art of storytelling to revive the cultural heritage of indigenous peoples and conserve biodiversity.
"If conservationists listen to the stories, they may understand the native worldview better. Storytelling can then facilitate dialogue, "explains Fernández-Llamazares. By telling stories, not only children and young people in the community learn more about the ecological knowledge of the population, but also scientists and conservationists.
Practical examples already exist: a project in Madagascar calls for the protection of lemurs by telling stories on the local radio station. In the US, a mobile display shows stories of how the local conservation community is entering the mountains of the Sierra Nevada. Another project supports young people in North Kenya. They write down the stories told by their parents about the wilderness.
"These initial initiatives bridge the gap between the revival of cultural traditions and the preservation of nature, " says Fernández-Llamazares. They should help to break new ground to preserve biocultural diversity. display
Photo: Joan de la Malla© science.de - Ruth Roebuck