Knowledge for Development

Traditional ecological knowledge and global environmental change


Date: 18/02/2014


Ecology and Society in 2013 included a special feature 'Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Global Environmental Change' addressing two main research themes. The first theme concerns the resilience of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and the conditions that might explain its loss or persistence in the face of global change. The second theme relates to new findings regarding the way in which TEK strengthens community resilience to respond to the multiple stressors of global environmental change. Those themes are analyzed using case studies from Africa, Asia, America and Europe. Theoretical insights and empirical findings from these case studies suggest that despite the generalized worldwide trend of TEK erosion, substantial pockets of TEK persist in both developing and developed countries. A common trend on the studies presented here is hybridization, where traditional knowledge, practices, and beliefs are merged with novel forms of knowledge and technologies to create new knowledge systems. The findings also reinforce previous hypotheses pointing at the importance of TEK systems as reservoirs of experiential knowledge that can provide important insights for the design of adaptation and mitigation strategies to cope with global environmental change. Based on the results from papers in this feature, we discuss policy directions that might help to promote maintenance and restoration of living TEK systems as sources of social-ecological resilience. 

Among the papers in this special feature, one stands out: Indigenous ways of adaptability to uncertainty: Outputs from an experiment in West African drylands   

(Ecology and Society, 12/2013) 

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