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Linking sustainable practices throughout Europe

► What’s up with Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Europe?

Rural topic(s): Local ecological knowledge

Type: scientific article

Date of publication: January 1, 2014


Although written in 2013, this article ” Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Europe: Status Quo and Insights for the Environmental Policy Agenda” is a good introduction to what scientists mean with “Traditional Ecological Knowledge”, especially in the European context.

It reminds us the definition of TEK adopted by most researchers : “a cumulative body of knowledge, practice and belief, evolving by adaptive processes and handed down through generations by cultural transmission, about the relation of living beings (including humans) with one another and the environment.

The authors also highlight that this knowledge is not stuck in the past but is evolving and adapting, what they call “ 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.”

In a way, this idea is shared by local practitioners working with farmers such Geyser, and especially the fact that “the society retains the ability to generate, transform, transmit, and apply knowledge”.

The article stresses how this knowledge could contribute to Policies: what about including agroecological knowledge into the Farm to Fork strategy (in this new period) ? The international level is also mentioned with the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) which “recognized the importance of TEK, intending “to develop an understanding of how to effectively integrate local and traditional knowledge” in their assessments.

The second part of the article is dedicated to a review of the current state of the art of TEK in Europe: since it is only based on literature search, it would be an added-value to widen a little bit to identify and study other ground initiatives related to local ecological knowledge that have not been documented yet.

I particularly recommend the last part titled “Could TEK in Europe Improve Adaptive Capacity Vis-à-Vis Environmental Changes?” as it gives some references of TEK contribution to forest management, grasslands management, fighting climate disturbances such as wildfires, floods or drought.

And I definitely agree with their final proposals, and especially wit the idea to “Document and inform regional policymakers on beneficial traditional practices successfully used by locals in different environmental sectors (e.g., fisheries, forestry, and agriculture), as well as provide recommendations on how to articulate them into local environmental policies and management plans.

Mónica Hernández-Morcillo , Janis Hoberg , Elisa Oteros-Rozas , Tobias Plieninger , Erik Gómez-Baggethun

& Victoria 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, DOI: 10.1080/00139157.2014.861673

To read the article: dx.doi.org/10.1080/00139157.2014.861673


Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00139157.2014.861673

Scale of intervention : European

Keywords: traditional knowledge, Farmers Ecological Knowledge, knowledge transmission, safeguard of knowledge

Places: Europe

Actors: researcher/academic