Published 2024 | Version v2
Publication Open

Including Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) in Agricultural Research: Guidelines and Lessons Learned

  • 1. Centre for Rural Development (SLE), Humboldt University, Berlin
  • 2. Department of Agriculture Food Environment and Forestry (DAGRI), University of Florence
  • 1. ROR icon National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment


This manual is written within the framework of the ERA-NET Cofund on Food Systems and Climate (FOSC) Knowledge Hub to bring together the insights and experiences gained from NUTRiGREEN and MedAgriFood Resilience research projects. Although these projects are located in different geographical areas, they share a common goal: to address the ongoing challenge posed by the fact that agricultural research and policy perpetually overlook traditional ecological knowledge (TEK). This approach keeps alive a sense of paternalism and prevents diverse knowledge systems from being integrated into research and policy.

The manual was written for fellow researchers and policymakers in agriculture, agroforestry, food security and international development. It aims to bring into focus the effective inclusion of both traditional and scientific knowledge in global research. The manual defines and explains TEK’s benefits and limitations in research projects and offers practical guidelines for integrating TEK into contemporary agricultural and agroforestry research practices.

Local rural communities have passed down knowledge and practice through the centuries, which includes a detailed and close understanding of local ecosystems, natural resources and sustainable practices. In the last decades TEK has received increasing attention for its knowledge of strategies and practices that are based on the sustainable use of local natural resources, and for its capability of providing different ecosystem services that directly benefit the well-being of local communities.

TEK is often threatened by poor transmission of traditional knowledge and practices across the generations, often caused by migration of young people. This means that training and dissemination are crucial to preserve this fundamental ecological knowledge. TEK should be integrated into scientific

knowledge and research by:

• applying the principles of co-research

• giving space and weight to local voices

• actively involving all stakeholders right from

the start, and

• sharing perspectives.


FOSC_TEK in Research_WEB.pdf

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