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Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Europe: Status Quo and Insights for the Environmental Policy Agenda

Hernández-Morcillo, M.; Hoberg, J.; Oteros-Rozas, E.; Plieninger, T.; Gómez-Baggethun, E.; Reyes-García, V.

Over the last two decades, traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) has gained increasing attention as a source of information for environmental science, policy, and management. TEK is defined as a body of knowledge and beliefs about the relations of specific human societies to the local environments in which they live, as well as their local practices for ecosystem use and stewardship. Although TEK is different from scientific knowledge, both bodies of knowledge are believed to be largely complementary, having great potential to enrich one another in informing decision-making processes and improving understanding of ecosystems and their dynamics. TEK can provide insights for the management of species, habitats, ecosystem services, protected areas, and human-shaped landscapes in general. Well-known examples of TEK guiding resource management include the watershed management of salmon rivers by the Amerindians of the Pacific Northwest, biodiversity enhancement through creation of forest islands by the Kayapo of Brazil, and the conservation of ancient human-influenced natural environments, such as the Satoyama landscapes in Japan. Furthermore, it has been argued that implementing TEK may increase the capacity of social-ecological systems to deal with crises, cope with disturbances, maintain long-term resilience, and thus respond to global environmental change, while also fostering biodiversity and human wellbeing in a harmonious way. Theoretical insights and empirical findings addressing the linkages between TEK and global environmental change suggest that despite the worldwide trend of TEK erosion, there is also a process of hybridization, where traditional knowledge, practices, and beliefs are merged with novel forms of knowledge and technologies to create new knowledge systems that seem to increase the resilience of social-ecological systems.

This text is a preprint. Please cite as: Hernández-Morcillo M., J. Hoberg, E. Oteros-Rozas, T. Plieninger, E. Gómez-Baggethun & V. Reyes-García (2014). Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Europe: Status Quo and Insights for the Environmental Policy Agenda. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, 56:1, 3-17. The original publication is available at:
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