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Urban Biocultural Diversity: “Urban realities and urban nature” Reading Workshop in South Africa

During the first week of April, 13 researchers from around the world met in East London, South Africa to publish a book on urban biocultural diversity.

The workshop was organized and sponsored by the professors of the University of Rhodes in South Africa. The book is composed of different chapters, where the thirteen collaborators prepared each of the individual chapters prior to the workshop. 

OUIK Research Associate Dr. Juan Pastor Ivars is one of the collaborators of the book and his chapter is about the biocultural diversity of Japanese cities. To do this, he evaluates the figure of the Japanese garden, its ontology, aesthetics, ecology and focuses on the gardens of Kanazawa. In particular, he presents examples of how to rebuild the relationship between people and nature through Japanese gardens.

The program of the workshop included the individualized reading of each of the chapters, their subsequent discussion and excursions to the area. In one of the excursions, the workshop team visited the Xhosa ethnic group and their representatives explained the deep relationships they have with the nature of their surroundings through rituals. In another visit was the museum of Steve Biko, anti-apartheid activist leader of the black consciousness movement.

This workshop demonstrated the importance of interpersonal links at a global level in order to promote the concept of biocultural diversity, as well as create an academic body for its implementation and governance. The book is scheduled to be published early next year — details of the book and participants below.

Book Outline: (from organizers)
The primary aim of the book is to display and celebrate the diversity of biocultural ways in which urban residents view, interact, engage and give meaning to urban nature. By offering alternative views, visions uses of and relationships with urban nature that offers a wider perspective and balance to the global world.

Participants
Africa
•Michelle Cocks. Professor. Rhodes University (South Africa); Charlie Shackleton. Professor. Rhodes University (South Africa); Lindsey Walsh, Duncan Haynes: Researchers Rhodes University (South Africa)
•Natasha Louise Constant. Chair on Biodiversity Value and Change. University of Venda(South Africa)
•Joseph Adedeji. Senior Lecturer. Akure Federal University of Technology (Nigeria)

America
•Lorien Nesbitt. Assistant Professor. University of British Columbia – Vancouver (Canada)
•Heather McMilen. State of Hawaiʿi Division of Forestry & Wildlife (USA)
•Juliana Merçon. Researcher. University of Veracruz (Mexico)
•Zachary Garcia. Graduate Teaching Fellow. Yale University (USA)
•Brazil- Guilherme Crus de Mendonca. Researcher. Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)

Asia
•Juan Pastor. Research Associate. UNU-IAS OUIK. (Japan)

Europe 
•Birgit Elands. Assistant Professor. Wageningen University. (Netherlands)
•Katie Vierikko. Researcher. Environmental Policy Centre, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE). (Finland)
•Viveca Mellegård. GRAID Researcher. Stockholm Resilience Centre University of Stockholm( Sweden)

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