Community Protocol

Biocultural Protocol of the Kukula Traditional Health Practitioners Association

Community Protocols cover a broad range of expressions, articulations, rules and practices generated by communities to set out how they expect other stakeholders to engage with them. They may reference customary as well as national and international laws to affirm their rights to be approached according to a certain set of standards.1

The Kukula produced their first Biocultural Community Protocol (BCP) in 2010, which outlined who the Kukula were, what their protocol stood for, their views on improving conservation and the sustainable use of medicinal plants, and respecting their right to prior, informed consent related to sharing and protecting their traditional knowledge.

Natural Justice together with partners K2C and Wits Rural Facility have facilitated workshops and discussions with the Kukula to revise and update their BCP. The core messages of the Kukula remain and they are now supported by an annex that outlines key legislation which supports the Kukula’s position.

Highlights include that South Africa’s Constitution encourages co-operative conservation of protected areas and that legislation around conservation strives to balance biodiversity protection on the one hand and sustainable use for the benefit of communities on the other.

The Kukula renew their call for dialogue and to be active partners in conservation. They highlight that as holders of traditional knowledge concerning medicinal plants, and being active practitioners and stewards of biodiversity, they should meaningfully participate in conservation decisions and activities that will impact them, their livelihoods, and their ability to treat and heal patients in their communities.

The revised BCP is available in both English and Xitsonga.

  1. See draft “ A glossary of key terms and concepts within the context of Article 8(j) and related provisions”,  Document for peer review in preparation for WG8J-10, Convention on Biological Diversity.
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