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Luisa Maffi
  Major Collaborator on on Biocultural Diversity

Luisa Maffi, PhD, FI, is co-founder (1996) and Director of Terralingua (, an international NGO devoted to sustaining the biocultural diversity of life - the world’s biological, cultural, and linguistic diversity - through research, education, policy-relevant work, and on-the-ground action. Dr. Maffi has pioneered the concept of biocultural diversity, and is widely recognized as a leader in this field. Terralingua’s work has been instrumental in putting the links between biodiversity and cultural diversity on the academic and international policy agenda. Two of Dr. Maffi’s books, the edited On Biocultural Diversity: Linking Language, Knowledge, and the Environment (Smithsonian Institution Press, 2001) and the co-authored Biocultural Diversity Conservation: A Global Sourcebook (Earthscan, 2010), are considered foundational references on this subject.

Dr. Maffi has edited, co-edited, or co-authored 7 other books, and has written or co-written nearly 60 articles and book chapters. Her research has taken her to Somalia, Mexico, USA, Canada, Australia, China, and Japan. She has lectured widely in Europe, North America, Asia and the Pacific. She has served as a consultant, advisor, and contributor to various international organizations, including The World Bank, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, UNEP, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the United Nations University, and the US National Science Foundation. Through her work with Terralingua, she has collaborated with numerous UN agencies, international organizations, universities, and museums such as UNEP, UNESCO, the CBD, IUCN, WWF, Conservation International, the University of California at Berkeley, Northwestern University, Northern Arizona University, the Smithsonian Institution, the American Museum of Natural History, the Field Museum of Natural History, and others.

Dr. Maffi has a background in linguistics (B.A., University of Rome, 1978) and anthropology (Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley, 1994). Since 2010, she has been an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences at Royal Roads University. In 1998-2003 she was a Research Associate in the Anthropology Department at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois, and in 1999-2004 a Research Associate in the Anthropology Department at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. She held grants and fellowships for her doctoral work from NATO, the US National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Wenner-Gren Foundation, among others. She also received a postdoctoral fellowship from NSF (1994-1997) and a National Research Service Award fellowship from the US National Institutes for Health (1997-2000). Terralingua’s work has been funded by numerous foundations, including Ford Foundation, The Christensen Fund, International Development Research Centre, Firebird Foundation, Swift Foundation, Kalliopeia Foundation, Berman Foundation, Logan Foundation. Dr. Maffi was a Fellow of the Society for Applied Anthropology in 2003-2008. She has been an International Fellow (FI) of the Explorers Club since 2010.

Countries of Service: Australia, Canada, China, Mexico, Japan, Somalia, USA

Find out more about the EcoHealth Team: 

Glenn Albrecht

Victoria Lee

Luisa Maffi

Bruce Mitchell

David Rapport

Ola Ullsten