Biocultural approaches to sustainability: a systematic review of the scientific literature

Jan Hanspach, Lisbeth Jamila Haide, Elisa Oteros-Rozas, Anton Stahl Olafsson, Natalie M. Gulsrud, Christopher M. Raymond, Mario Toralba, Berta Martín-López, Claudia Bieling, María García-Martín, Christian Albert, Thomas H. Beery, Nora Fagerholm, Isabel Díaz-Reviriego, Annika Drews-Shambroom, Tobias Plieninger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


1.  Current sustainability challenges demand approaches that acknowledge a plurality of human–nature interactions and worldviews, for which biocultural approaches are considered appropriate and timely.

2.  This systematic review analyses the application of biocultural approaches to sus-tainability in scientific journal articles published between 1990 and 2018 through a mixed methods approach combining qualitative content analysis and quantita-tive multivariate methods.

3.  The study identifies seven  distinct  biocultural lenses,  that is,  different ways  of understanding  and applying biocultural  approaches,  which to different degrees consider the key aspects  of sustainability science—inter- and transdisciplinarity, social justice and normativity.

4.  The review suggests that biocultural approaches in sustainability science need to move from describing  how nature  and culture are co-produced  to co-producing knowledge for sustainability solutions, and in so doing, better account for questions of power, gender and transformations, which has been largely neglected thus far

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)643-659
Number of pages16
JournalPeople and Nature
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Biological Sciences (106)


  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • bio-cultural
  • conservation
  • knowledge
  • social–ecological systems
  • transformation
  • value


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