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Ricardo Rozzi and Francisca Massardo Trails and Tribulations
with an MA in philosophy, and to focus my research on the
ornithological knowledge of the world's southernmost
indigenous people: the Fuegian Yahgans.
Together with our academic advisors and a group of
researchers and students, Francisca and I travelled to Cape
Horn to meet "the grandmothers", Ursula and Cristina
Calder6n, the last two Yahgan who spoke their native lan-
guage fluently (Figure 2). We were amazed by the region's
exuberant evergreen forests - we expected to find tundra at
the southern end of the Americas - and by the detailed
knowledge and familiar relationship that Ursula and Cristina
had with the local birds in their everyday life, both materially
and symbolically. Ursula's favorite bird was lana, the giant
Magellanic woodpecker (Campephilus magellanicus; Figure 1),
a close relative of the North American ivory-billed wood-
pecker. She explained to us that, in Yahgan, "lan" means
"tongue", and the bird's name alludes to the long tongue with
which it skillfully extracts larvae from trees. The scientific
name also highlights these attributes: Campephilus means
"caterpillar-lover". These birds are so specialized in their
habitat requirements that they feed and nest solely in old-
growth southern beech trees (Nothofagus spp).
The Mapuche and Yahgan TEK demonstrates, as much as
does our scientific ecological knowledge, a clear understand-
ing that the well-being of humans and other species goes
hand in hand. A similar understanding can also be found in
the early beginnings of Western science and ethics. Indeed,
the English word "ethics" originates from the Greek term
"ethos", which, in its more archaic form, meant a "den" (the
dwelling of an animal; Rozzi et al. 2008). Our field experi-
ence in Cape Horn extended the central question of ethics -
about the concept of the good life and how we should live -
into the broader biocultural question of how to co-inhabit
with human and other-than-human beings.
This biocultural understanding stimulated us to further
investigate the ancient Amerindian, Western philosophical,
and contemporary concepts of ecological knowledge and
ethics, and to take action to contribute to the conservation
of this precious biological, linguistic, and cultural diversity.
Along with a group of scientists, artists, philosophers, and
other professionals, both Chilean and foreign, we initiated a
program of field environmental philosophy and biocultural
conservation that led to the creation of the Omora
Ethnobotanical Park in 1999. In the Yahgan language,
"omora" is the name of the firecrown hummingbird
(Sephanoides sephaniodes), and in the ancient narratives it is
presented as a powerful small man and spirit who maintains
both ecological and social order. Omora became a flagship
species, and with members of the indigenous community,
the regional government, researchers, and students, we
launched a research, education, and conservation program
that resulted in the creation of the UNESCO Cape Horn
Biosphere Reserve in June 2005 (Rozzi et al. 2006). The
Omora Ethnobotanical Park became the transdisciplinary
research center of the new biosphere reserve, and in 2005 we
inaugurated the Sub-Antarctic Biocultural Conservation
Program, in partnership with the University of Magallanes,
Figure 2. Ursula Calderon and Ricardo Rozzi during a recording
session on Cape Horn.
the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity, and the University
of North Texas (www.chile.unt.edu).
In current times, human-driven global change demands
not only more scientific knowledge but also a sense of envi-
ronmental ethics. Diverse forms of ecological knowledge
and ethics inform one another; they do not constitute
autonomous facts and values (Rozzi 1999). The biocultural
understanding of ancient Western philosophy, Amerindian
TEK, and ecological sciences offers a viable conceptual
platform to orient ethically and scientifically informed
answers to the call for Earth stewardship proposed by the
Ecological Society of America in its forthcoming 96th
Annual Meeting in 2011 (Chapin et al. 2010). A greater
appreciation of the biocultural mosaic within global educa-
tional, administrative, and economic systems that currently
prevail can foster policies that favor the continuity of
regional sustainable cultures, and could also provide a foun-
dation for a global, heterogeneous meta-culture of sustain-
Chapin FS, Power M, Pickett STA, et al. 2010. Earth stewardship: a
framework to transform the trajectory of society's relationship to
the biosphere. Social, Behavioral, and Economic (SBE) Sciences
white paper 9. Ecological Society of America. www.esa.org/earth
stewardship/files/SBEWhitePaper9_29%20ESA.pdf. Viewed 29
Rozzi R, Arango X, Massardo F, et al. 2008. Field environmental phi-
losophy and biocultural conservation: the Omora Ethnobotanical
Park Educational Program. Environ Ethics 30: 325-36.
Rozzi R, Massardo F, Anderson C, et al. 2006. Ten principles for bio-
cultural conservation at the southern tip of the Americas: the
approach of the Omora Ethnobotanical Park. Ecol Soc 11: 43.
www.ecologyandsociety.org/voll 1l/issl/art43/. Viewed 29 Mar 2011.
Rozzi R. 1999. The reciprocal links between evolutionary-ecologi-
cal sciences and environmental ethics. BioScience 49: 911-21.
Ricardo Rozzi1,2,3* and Francisca Massardo2'3
'Department of Philosophy and Religion Studies, University
of North Texas, Denton, TX; 'Institute of Ecology and
Biodiversity and the University of Magallanes, Chile ,
*(firstname.lastname@example.org); Omora Ethnobotanical Park, Puerto
Williams, Antarctic Province, Chile
The Ecological Society of America www*frontiersinecology.org
Ricardo Rozzi and Francisca Massardo
The Ecological Society of America
Trails and Tribulations
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Rozzi, Ricardo, 1960- & Massardo, Francisca. The road to biocultural ethics, article, May 2011; [Washington, D.C.]. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc130193/m1/2/: accessed April 25, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Arts and Sciences.