Contributed by Viktor Ulicsni

Rhododendron shoots for tea

On my first international congress ever, in May 2010, in Tofino, Canada, as a new member of the International Society of Ethnobiology I was also among those who voted for the host of the 2014 ISE Congress. Then, as I was quite beginner in my ethnobiological work I haven’t even dare to dream that I will have the chance to participate as an oral presenter on the so prominent event in such an interesting country as the mysterious Bhutan. However greatly thanks to the ISE travel award this unrealistic possibility was fulfilled finally.

As a member of the Hungarian Bhutan Friendship Society, I learnt a lot about the Bhutanese people’s lifestyle and found surprisingly big rate of similarity with the stories about the disappearing lifestyle of my ancestors and my elder teachers. In our big work of preserving and vitalizing the cultural diversity, thinking together with people in a similar field can greatly help in being really effective. We maybe can truly say that this kind of thinking is in the highest (state) level in Bhutan, so it’s an especially adequate place for supporting this part of our efforts. And though I arrived with these high expectations, fortunately my experiences definitely met with it.

My actual presented work on the bigger but less well-known part of biodiversity (Folk taxonomy, salient features, traditional usage and beliefs of invertebrate species in Central Europe) is from a field which is examined only by a very few people, but also complex enough to find the junctions with most of the ethnobiological themes. This extensive examination and data collecting is an absolute necessity to assure possibility and to support regenerating biocultural ecosystem service and traditional ecological knowledge. Fortunately I did find these contacts, and certainly it was very rousing when great authorities gave advice and encouraged me to continue specifying and developing my work. These constructive scholarly conversations can really improve in profession, especially the younger participants like me, but besides this the experienced community spirit, the new and old friendships made this conference to that kind of “real” event, what we all consider important thanks to our common knowledge about the bases of ethnobiology: the connection of science, social science, people and environment.