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Collaborative Engagement of Local and Traditional Knowledge and Science in Marine Environments: A Review

Thomas F Thornton, University of Oxford
Adela Maciejewski Scheer, McGill University

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-04714-170308

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Abstract

Local and traditional ecological knowledge (LTK) is increasingly recognized as an important component of scientific research, conservation, and resource management. Especially where there are gaps in the scientific literature, LTK can be a critical source of basic environmental data; this situation is particularly apparent in the case of marine ecosystems, about which comparatively less is known than terrestrial ones. We surveyed the global literature relating to the LTK of marine environments and analyzed what knowledge has been collected and with what aims and results. A large proportion of LTK which has been documented by researchers consists of species-specific information that is important for traditional resource use. However, knowledge relating to marine ecology, environmental change, and contemporary resource management practices is increasingly emphasized in the literature. Today, marine LTK is being used to provide historical and contemporary baseline information, suggest stewardship techniques, improve conservation planning and practice, and to resolve management disputes. Still, comparatively few studies are geared toward the practicalities of developing a truly collaborative, adaptive, and resilient management infrastructure that is embracive of modern science and LTK and practices in marine environments. Based on the literature, we thus suggest how such an infrastructure might be advanced through collaborative projects and "bridging" institutions that highlight the importance of trust-building and the involvement of communities in all stages of research, and the importance of shared interest in project objectives, settings (seascapes), and outcomes.

Key words

adaptive comanagement; collaborative research; collaborative resource management; ecological monitoring; environmental change; historical ecology; local and traditional knowledge (LTK); marine conservation; marine ecology; marine ecosystems
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087