Roles of Traditional Ecological Knowledge for Biodiversity Conservation

Sefi Mekonen


Indigenous peoples are actively engaged as partners in biodiversity conservation and biodiversity inhabit local areas. They have a broad knowledge base of the behavior of complex ecological systems in their own localities with a historical continuity of resource-use practices. Management of natural resources in the form of indigenous/ traditional technical knowledge is called “Traditional Ecological Knowledge”. Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) is a cumulative body of knowledge about the relationships living things (including people) have with each other and with their environment, which is handed down across generations through cultural transmission. Traditional ecological knowledge recognized as complementary and equivalent to scientific knowledge has increased its relevance globally. Traditional ecological knowledge is relevant for the maintenance and sustainable use of biodiversity. Maintenance of biodiversity includes the worldview and religious philosophy of indigenous peoples to develop a new environmental ethics and traditional practices of natural resource management tested on-site for many generations. However, sustainable utilization of biodiversity by TEK includes customary use of biological resources in accordance with traditional cultural practices. The roles of TEK for biodiversity conservation is considered at several levels such as traditional knowledge of animals, plants, soils and landscape for the sustainable use of resources; traditional resources management system with an appropriate set of tools, techniques and practices; social institutions or organization for coordination, co-operation, rule-making and rule enforcement and finally, environmental perception and gives meaning to social relations. Moreover, the application and effects of TEK on conservation and ecology are for ethnoecology, population ecology and species interaction and forest management. Beside these roles and integrating of TEK for biodiversity conservation, we recommend that: biodiversity managers and western scientists should be directly connected with knowledge holders and, communication styles should be understood, a foundation of trust to work should be established, and mutual benefits or incentives from knowledge sharing to collaborate biodiversity conservation should identified.

Keywords: Biodiversity, conservation, Indigenous people, Traditional ecological knowledge 

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3186 ISSN (Online)2225-0921

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