January 2014

Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Global Environmental Change
Erik Gómez-Baggethun, Esteve Corbera, and Victoria Reyes-García (guest eds)
Ecology and Society special feature 18(4), 2013

This special feature of Ecology and Society addresses two main research themes. The first one concerns the resilience of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and the conditions that might explain its loss or persistence in the face of global change. The second theme relates to new findings regarding the way in which TEK strengthens community resilience to respond to the multiple stressors of global environmental change. Those themes are analyzed using case studies from Africa, Asia, America and Europe. Theoretical insights and empirical findings from the studies suggest that despite the generalized worldwide trend of TEK erosion, substantial pockets of TEK persist in both developing and developed countries. A common trend on the studies presented is hybridization, where traditional knowledge, practices, and beliefs are merged with novel forms of knowledge and technologies to create new knowledge systems. The findings also reinforce previous hypotheses pointing at the importance of TEK systems as reservoirs of experiential knowledge that can provide important insights for the design of adaptation and mitigation strategies to cope with global environmental change. Based on the results from papers in this feature, the guest editorial also discusses policy directions that might help to promote maintenance and restoration of living TEK systems as sources of social-ecological resilience. Read the issue [open access] …

Sustaining and Enhancing Forests Through Traditional Resource Management (volume 2)
Gabriel Bachange Enchaw et al, Tebtebba Foundation, 2013 | ISBN: 978-197-0186-17-4

A follow-up to an earlier compilation of case studies published in 2010, this second volume of the book Indigenous Peoples, Forests and REDD Plus: Sustaining and Enhancing Forests Through Traditional Resource Management includes six case studies. These were written by the Center of Research and Development in Upland Areas (CERDA), Vietnam; Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN), Nepal; Center for Indigenous Peoples’ Cultures of Peru (Chirapaq), Peru; Asamblea Mixe para el Desarrollo Sostenible A.C. (ASAM-DES), Mexico; Lelewal Foundation, Cameroon; and in the Philippines, by the state-run University of the Philippines Baguio, in partnership with Tebtebba. These six case studies reveal the secrets of indigenous peoples in protecting, conserving and managing their forestlands. The findings, conclusions and recommendations of the case studies all point to one thing—policy makers and development planners need to rethink or reorient their mindsets and framework towards forest management. All the case studies share something in common. They highlight how indigenous peoples regard themselves as stewards and caretakers of their forests and lands. As such, they view the land as “Mother,” which cannot be sold or traded. As responsible stewards, indigenous peoples also regard their forests and lands as sacred. The various studies cite specially designated sacred sites, which must remain untouched. These sites include areas with pristine springs, important herbs, centuries-old mother trees, and important wildlife sanctuary. And as part of their responsibility and accountability, indigenous peoples always consider the needs and interests of future generations. Indigenous governance, traditional knowledge and management systems of forests and lands are thus based on this precept. All the case studies also highlight the vital role of women in forest management or in sustainable farming. Further information, including link to publication …

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants
Robin Wall Kimmerer
Milkweed Editions, 2013 | ISBN: 978-1-57131-335-5

Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist and mother, Kimmerer shows how other living beings—asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass—offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices. In a rich braid of reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgement and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. Further information …

Practical Workshop for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities on Intellectual Property and Traditional Knowledge
4-6 December 2013 (Geneva, Switzerland)

The programme of this workshop comprised a set of presentations and case-studies, and encouraged interactive engagement among 14 participants regarding intellectual property and traditional knowledge, and the concerns and aspirations of indigenous peoples and local communities. It was moderated by Professor Rebecca Tsosie (Arizona State University, USA), who is of Yaqui descent. Further information … Download the workshop’s programme [pdf] …

Bioprospecting under the Nagoya Protocol: a conservation booster?
Claudio Chiarolla et al
IDDRI Policy Brief no 14/2013

Some proponents of access and benefit sharing (ABS) mechanisms believe that bioprospecting, if better regulated under ABS legislation and the Nagoya Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), will incentivize and fund biodiversity conservation. By combining economic and legal analysis, the authors of this brief challenge this view. First, the Nagoya Protocol was not primarily designed to conserve biodiversity. Second, the provisions that call upon the Parties to allocate the advantages arising from bioprospecting towards the conservation of biodiversity are hortative in nature. Nevertheless, beyond its relatively narrow focus on the utilization of genetic resources and associated tradition knowledge, the Nagoya Protocol can be helpful to empower stakeholders, whose rights, duties and responsibilities are crucial for the conservation of biodiversity. Read the brief …