July 2013


Building resilience to climate change through indigenous knowledge – the case of Bolivia
Kate DeAnglis, World Resources Institute, March 2013

This report notes that indigenous knowledge plays an important role in the way communities interact with their climate in many countries, particularly in Bolivia. It contributes to weather forecasting at the community level, and to the preservation of vital ecosystem functions that help to buffer communities against climate change impacts. However, the increasing incidence of extreme weather events and disasters is taking a toll. This situation calls for new partnerships between indigenous people and the scientific community – an area where Bolivia could lead the way. It is argued that collaborations between indigenous groups and scientists can improve the understanding of climate change, lead to better adaptive strategies in Bolivia and provide useful experience from which other countries can learn. Implementing policies that encourage the use of indigenous knowledge will help manage the unavoidable consequences of climate change and protect vulnerable populations. Download the brief [pdf] …

Bio-cultural refugia – Safeguarding diversity of practices for food security and biodiversity
Stephan Barthel, Carole Crumley, Uno Svedin, Global Environmental Change, June 2013, ISSN: 0959-3780

In this article, the authors shed new insights on areas that harbor place specific social memories related to food security and stewardship of biodiversity, calling them bio-cultural refugia. They aim to illuminate how bio-cultural refugia store, revive and transmit memory of agricultural biodiversity and ecosystem services, and how such social memories are carried forward between people and across cohorts. They discuss the functions of such refugia for addressing the twin goals of food security and biodiversity conservation in landscapes of food production. They find that the rich biodiversity of many regionally distinct cultural landscapes has been maintained through a mosaic of management practices that have co-evolved in relation to local environmental fluctuations, and that such practices are carried forward by both biophysical and social features in bio-cultural refugia including genotypes, artifacts, written accounts, as well as embodied rituals, art, oral traditions and self-organized systems of rules. Combined these structure a diverse portfolio of practices that result in genetic reservoirs – source areas – for the wide array of species, which in interplay produce vital ecosystem services, needed for future food security related to environmental uncertainties, volatile financial markets and large scale conflicts. The paper highlights that the dual goals to reduce pressures from modern agriculture on biodiversity, while maintaining food security, entails more extensive collaboration with farmers oriented toward ecologically sound practices. Read the abstract …

The role of traditional medicine practice in primary health care within Aboriginal Australia: a review of the literature
Stefanie J. Oliver, Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, volume 9, 2013, doi: 10.1186/1746-4269-9-46

The author argues that the practice of traditional Aboriginal medicine within Australia is at risk of being lost due to the impact of colonisation. Displacement of people from traditional lands as well as changes in family structures affecting passing on of cultural knowledge are two major examples of this impact. Prior to colonisation traditional forms of healing, such as the use of traditional healers, healing songs and bush medicines were the only source of primary health care. It is unclear to what extent traditional medical practice remains in Australia in 2013 within the primary health care setting, and how this practice sits alongside the current biomedical health care model. An extensive literature search was performed from a wide range of literature sources in attempt to identify and examine both qualitatively and quantitatively traditional medicine practices within Aboriginal Australia today. Whilst there is a lack of academic literature and research on this subject the literature found suggests that traditional medicine practice in Aboriginal Australia still remains and the extent to which it is practiced varies widely amongst communities across Australia. This variation was found to depend on association with culture and beliefs about disease causation, type of illness presenting, success of biomedical treatment, and accessibility to traditional healers and bush medicines. Traditional medicine practices were found to be used sequentially, compartmentally and concurrently with biomedical healthcare. Understanding more clearly the role of traditional medicine practice, as well as looking to improve and support integrative and governance models for traditional medicine practice, could have a positive impact on primary health care outcomes for Aboriginal Australia. Read the article …

Traditional and science-based weather forecasts – finding common ground
CGIAR report, March 2013

A project developed by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and partners including the Senegalese National Meteorological Agency, the Agriculture Extension Service and many farmers groups has shown that building bridges between traditional and scientific knowledge can provide valuable impacts when it comes to climate adaptation. Harnessing synergy between traditional and scientific knowledge systems, the project has helped farmers in central Senegal’s peanut growing belt to use seasonal forecasts as a tool for improving crop strategies. It has also provided an opportunity for farmers to explain to meteorologists what seasonal climate information they most needed. As a result, the forecasts have been repackaged to suit local needs. A key lesson to emerge from the exercise was that traditional knowledge can learn from science, and that science can learn from traditional knowledge. The innovative project, organized through a series of workshops and field visits, was careful to respect local weather forecasting systems, which have been handed down through generations. Read the report, including links to further information …

A Contemporary Guide to Cultural Mapping: An ASEAN-Australia PerspectiveIan Cook and Ken Taylor
ASEAN Secretariat and AusHeritage, April 2013 | ISBN: 978-602-7643-13

The cultural mapping process may focus on the past, the present or the future. Cultural mapping can be used to monitor change in material culture as well as intangible cultural heritage. A cultural map may be created as an end in itself or provide an input into other endeavours. Many methods and technologies are used to create cultural maps; some are simple and ephemeral such as drawing in the sand. Others use the latest technologies to locate cultural phenomenon spatially using geographic information systems. Whatever methods are used to map culture or cultural products, the map most often takes a physical form (a list, matrix, chart, diagram, design, website, sound recording, video, drawing, painting, textile, sculpture or model) where information is gathered, arranged and presented physically or virtually. In this context the authors use the term map as a mental model and mapping as mental model making as they explore the body of knowledge associated with this expanding field. Chapters address: culture, identity and distinctiveness; what is cultural mapping; cultural mapping – theory and applications; charters, protocols and declarations – where does cultural mapping fit; cultural mapping, communities, ethics and the law; case studies; cultural mapping methods and tools; tools for community participation and engagement; and global institutions, funding and potential partners. Download the guide [pdf] …

International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 2013
9 August 2013 (UN Headquarters, New York, and worldwide)

The 19th commemoration of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on Friday, 9 August 2013 at the UN Headquarters in New York, is organized by the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the UN Department of Public Information, and the NGO Committee on the Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. An interactive dialogue entitled “Indigenous peoples building alliances: Honouring treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements” will take place from 3-6 pm. Further information …

Indigenous land managers to help with turtles, dugongs conservation
ABC Message Stick, 18 July 2013

NORTHERN QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA: Australia’s Federal Government has given $1 million towards the conservation of sea turtles and dugongs in northern Queensland. The money will be split between eight groups in the region for them to maintain marine environments and raise community awareness about the species. Federal Environment Minister Mark Butler said it is important to use the generations of local knowledge, adding that the indigenous land managers understand the topography and the habits of dugongs, sea turtles and other endangered species in the area that they have been sustainably harvesting for literally hundreds of generations. Read the article …

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