Indigenous knowledge for biodiversity conservation

TitleIndigenous knowledge for biodiversity conservation
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1993
AuthorsGadgil, M, Berkes, F, Folke, C
Date PublishedMay 1, 1993
Keywordsbiodiversity; South America

Indigenous peoples with a historical continuity of resource-use practices often possess a broad knowledge base of the behavior of complex ecological systems in their own localities. This knowledge has accumulated through a long series of observations transmitted from generation to generation. Such "diachronic" observations can be of great value and complement the "synchronic" observations on which western science is based. Where indigenous peoples have depended, for long periods of time, on local environments for the provision of a variety of resources, they have developed a stake in conserving, and in some cases, enhancing, biodiversity. They are aware that biological diversity is a crucial factor in generating the ecological services and natural resources on which they depend. Some indigenous groups manipulate the local landscape to augment its heterogeneity, and some have been found to be motivated to restore biodiversity in degraded landscapes. Their practices for the conservation of biodiversity were grounded in a series of rules of thumb which are apparently arrived at through a trial and error process over a long historical time period. This implies that their knowledge base is indefinite and their implementation involves an intimate relationship with the belief system. Such knowledge is difficult for western science to understand. It is vital, however, that the value of the knowledge-practice-belief complex of indigenous peoples relating to conservation of biodiversity is fully recognized if ecosystems and biodiversity are to be managed sustainably. Conserving this knowledge would be most appropriately accomplished through promoting the community-based resource-management systems of indigenous peoples.


ArticleType: research-article
Issue Title: Biodiversity: Ecology, Economics, Policy
Full publication date: May 1993
Copyright © 1993 Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences See also: (open repository).

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Number of pages

6 pp.