Traditional ecological knowledge, biodiversity, resilience and sustainability

TitleTraditional ecological knowledge, biodiversity, resilience and sustainability
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication1993
AuthorsBerkes, F, Folke, C, Gadgil, M
Secondary TitleBeijer Discussion Paper Series No. 31
Date Published1993
PublisherBeijer International Institute of Ecological Economics
CityStockholm, Sweden

Traditional peoples who depended on their local ecosystems for their essential needs, have accumulated by trial-and-error a rich body of local environmental knowledge, and in several cases elaborated resource management systems, and developed institutions appropriate for implementing these systems. Biodiversity conservation appears to be integral to many traditional management systems from tropical forests to coastal fisheries. For example, some groups manipulate the local landscape to augment its heterogeneity, use conservation "rules of thumb" to help use species-rich communities sustainable, and intergrate the production of several multispecies systems. Thus, self-interest of traditional peoples has been key to biodiversity maintenance. As traditional peoples are integrated into the global economy and come under various pressures, they often lose their resource base, and in the long run, their knowledge systems, social institutions, and their world view which shapes their relations with the environment. The process of decoupling of traditional peoples from their resource base is likely to reduce the resilience of their social systems, as well as their local ecosystems through biodiversity loss. We make the argument in this chapter that the two are related, and the reduction of resilience will make both social and ecological systems more fragile. One challenge for biodiversity conservation is to learn from the knowledge-practice-belief complex of traditional peoples. But a perhaps more important challenge is to implement elements of it in "new TEK" systems which allow feedbacks from the environment, and respond to them in a more resilient way than do current day management practices. (author)


Later published as:

Berkes F., Folke C., Gadgil M. (1994) Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Biodiversity, Resilience and Sustainability. In: Perrings C.A., Mäler KG., Folke C., Holling C.S., Jansson BO. (eds) Biodiversity Conservation. Ecology, Economy & Environment, vol 4. Springer, Dordrecht.

Number of pages

34 pp.