How To Nature Journal Biocultural Diversity: Mariia Ermilova Terada

Mariia Ermilova Terada shows us how to nature journal biocultural diversity. Not only does she nature journal in three languages but she also incorporates the human-nature connection into her pages. In contrast, most nature journalers today omit this relationship. For example, I often choose nature subjects where I cannot see the human interaction. I frequently exclude hikers, benches, telephone poles from my landscape paintings. Another example is that I rarely nature journal my garden, my salad, or the other aspects of nature my life is directly dependent on.

In addition, we talk about Mariia’s studies, her love of frogs, fabric arts, and the role nature journaling can play in making the world a better place. Don’t miss the lightning round!

How to Nature Journal Your Breakfast

Did you nature journal the plants and animals that you ate for breakfast today? What about the plants or animals that made your clothes? Have you ever included the indigenous names for plants or animals on your page? If nature journaling is supposed to connect us more to nature why do we often avoid the subjects we are most closely connected to?

How to nature journal biocultural diversity

In the above example we can see how Mariia applies nature journaling to an everyday scene. Her neighbor caught a fish and is cooking it. This nature journal page captures that subsistence relationship. In addition she gives the name of the fish in three languages and points out how it is an invasive species. The combination of comic, recipe, and species profile give this page a biocultural significance. how to nature journal biocultural diversityIn contrast, Mariia could have just nature journaled a random butterfly. “What’s wrong with nature journaling a random butterfly?” In fact, there is nothing wrong with choosing a subject just because of an aesthetic interest. But let’s be self aware. Why don’t we nature journal what we eat?

how to nature journal biocultural diversity
How to Nature Journal Biocultural Diversity
  1. First, be curious about local traditional knowledge about nature in the area where you are. What culture has been living there? What was their relationship to the plants and animals and landscapes you are drawing? Is there a way you can recognize and incorporate some of that into your journal? However, be aware of the issue of cultural appropriation.
  2. Second, be curious about cultural context. Even the magnolia in your garden, the chicken in your soup, or your house cat have a cultural how to nature journal biocultural diversitycontext. Even a quick search on google could find some cool background. What if you included a map, names in other languages, or historic references next to that sketch of your feline or flower?
  3. Finally, what are some biocultural connections from your own life? You can also try to nature journal some of the aspects of your own life that are connected to nature. What plants, animals, fungi, minerals etc do you relate to on a daily basis?

See more of Mariia’s work: https://taplink.cc/mariia_ermilova_terada

What you have been waiting for…

It’s here! The behind the scenes story of my recent trip to Tanzania is finally finished after weeks of being back and days of video production work. Thanks for waiting patiently. This video is available to followers of my website for several days before it goes public on youtube.

Taste The Rainbow (While it Lasts)

You are lucky. Life has existed for 3.5 billion years on this planet and you happen to live during the period that has arguably the greatest variety of living organisms ever. And since we have yet to discover even one form of life or fossil life anywhere besides earth this place and this moment could be the most biodiverse period in the 13.8 billion year history of the universe. You are one lucky entity. So how can you enjoy your luck while it lasts? Here are three ways…

Variety is the Spice of Life: Aesthetics and Inspiration:

Every day you take for granted the beauty and meaning of the biodiversity around you. I’m talking about in your backyard, not just in exotic rain forests. And it is impossible to quantify the benefits that you receive as a human from the diverse and novel forms and functions of the organisms around you. For example, artists, scientists, and designers have taken inspiration or directly copied natural forms since the origins of culture. Can you imagine how boring and destitute life would be if you lived on a planet with three kinds of plants, three kinds of animals, and a handful of microorganisms? It is ridiculous to even visualize it. Even 100 of each would probably be pretty bad. (The above photo is of an orchid flower from a botanical garden in Ecuador. According to the signage Ecuador contains more diversity of orchid species than any other country.)

Luckily, you do not live in such a ridiculously un-diverse nightmare world so you might as well enjoy the aesthetics and inspiration that surround you. One way to do so is to nature journal, you could also become a birder, an orchid lover, or an amateur lichenologist. (in the photo you can see some examples of wasp biodiversity from the pages of my nature journal. I appreciate wasps as an amateur and greatly enjoy their various shapes and colors.)

Taste the Rainbow: Edible Biodiversity:

When you were a baby you experienced and appreciated the world by putting things in your mouth. You can still do that as an adult but with a tad more discretion. Eating a variety of foods is one of the greatest pleasures of being human as well as important for good health. Availability of a diversity of food is something we cannot take for granted. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN the diversity of agricultural crops is estimated to have diminished by about  %75 percent in the last 100 years. In addition, around three fourths of the world’s food comes from twelve plants and five species of animals (that is starting to sound like our ridiculously boring nightmare world!) As an eater of food you can seek out and support edible biodiversity by showing interest in and supporting the preservation of different types of plant, animal, and fungal food. Not only is it the right thing to do but it is also tasty and nutritious and sometimes adventurous. Speaking of adventurous, check out this funny and controversial article I wrote about   eating biodiversity.

Hedging Your Bets: Survival and Resilience:

Why put all your eggs in one basket when there are so many diverse and beautiful different types of baskets? Not only is it unimaginably boring to live on a planet with a handful of species, or to only eat five types of plants, it is also ridiculously precarious to depend entirely on a safety net made of five strands. You might as well enjoy the diversity available to you now while also hedging your bets a little bit. Depending on diversity is always a good strategy during unpredictable times or rapid change. And you live in the most unpredictable and rapidly changing period in human history. For an academic article exemplifying the diversification strategy in a traditional culture check out my essay called Diversity and Adaptation. (In the photo above I am  opening an example of a food crop that is delicious and nutritious but virtually unknown outside of South America. It is a relative of breadfruit. This is the type of agrobiodiversity that is being lost every year.)

I’m sure there are more than three main ways to enjoy the uniquely biodiverse period that we are living in. What ways do you enjoy? How do you taste the rainbow? On the flip side what aspects of biodiversity have you noticed yourself or your community taking for granted? In the next article I will talk about the decline in biodiversity and the incredible opportunity and role we can play during what looks like it will be the Sixth Great Extinction.

This rant about biodiversity would not be complete without a diversity of other sources for you to check out:

Biodiversity in Geological Time

What is Happening to Agrobiodiversity?

The 6th Great Extinction

E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation

Growing Biodiversity at OAEC