Blending Indigenous Knowledge with Scientific Knowledge: Integrating Eco-Literacies for Effective Biodiversity Management.

From the very beginning, Nomadic Humans understood the basis of managing resources by just interacting with them. They never had to attain any form of education to enable them preserve the trees or animal species they depended on for their livelihood. Like the way my Dad used to tell me: “spill the cool-off ashes at the roots of the shrubs in our backyard garden;” though ignorant to the benefits of wood-ash to agriculture, I stubbornly did it. Way before the industrial revolution, People used only the resources that they needed. These people were wanderers. They did not inhabit a permanent area for survival and farming purposes. This way of life encouraged shifting cultivation, a modern agriculture practice they knew nothing about. Indigenous Knowledge (IK) has kept most species intact, even though it may have some shortcomings. Ecological Research papers have shown the effectuality of these long use methods. Noting the sustainability and adaptability component of it. These methods traveled from fathers to children, and it was all they knew before the Environmental Movement began.

Up to Generation X, these approaches healed, at least, more than they hurt. But like a society that losses traditions and cultures because of civilization, today peoples have turned from IK. We have created a faster (not an ecologically friendly) way to solve our problems. Man has found pleasure in degrading the earth resources, forgetting that we are to protect and manage them. Plant species like Araucarioxylon arizonicum have been extinct for more than two centuries, and more bio-diversities are listed as endangered. IK has not only been useful to local people, but has also served as the foundation of several environmental protection policies. IK is a kind of posterior knowledge accumulated through experience. These experiences have provided sustainable livelihoods for local people and their environment for more than centuries. Indigenous knowledge researchers have faced several predicaments from Modern academics because IK is subjective, while the latter covers the broad spectrum. The Scientific Theorists might have tried to drift away from the peculiarity in Man interactions with nature, but their fundamentals are still rooted in these age-old practices. Traditional knowledge must be integrated into the modern concept of sustainability to ensure effective management systems.

Mr. Simeon George (Forest Ranger) assisting the Reasercher with patrol in the Singaba Forest.

How Can We Combine Indigenous and Scientific Knowledge to Effectively Assess, Manage, and Protect Biodiversity?

The United Nations Environmental Program, along with local Non-Governmental Organizations, has set up frameworks to enhance the collaboration of Traditionalists and Modern Scientist. Manipulation of these practices, to meet modern systems has created fear within Traditionalist. The pride of any society lies within its fundamental values, the value that sets them apart. Hence, any form of manipulation will serve as a hindrance in obtaining perfect collaboration. Quoting from Dale Carnegie bestselling book (How to Win Friends and Influence People): “if there’s any one secret to success, it is the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from the person’s angle, as well as, from your own.” Modern Environmental Organizations have to show a profound interest in these people, in order to access and incorporate traditional insights and understandings. This paper is not serving as a step by step order to gain Traditionalist over, but contain the generalized methodology to reach that point.

These group of people want to feel important, before being included. So, the best way to get them involved has to be prioritization. Their conservation practices have sustained majority of their plants and animals before the Environmental Revolution began. Way before the baby boomer’s generation, there were necrosis and chlorosis (even though it wasn’t referred to as that), and recovery methods existed to treat them! Thus, we are not the only one with recovery techniques. Taking this into consideration, the combination of these two kinds of knowledge, will require the placement of fundamental (traditionalist) knowledge at the top of derived (modern) methods within the Biodiversity Protection Hierarchy.

Highlighting ways by which the vital components of these methods will be preserve can enhance confidentiality in partnership. Being that Traditional Knowledge is crucial to the cultural heritage and spirituality of any society, the people will want to know which measures are in place to protect their practices. The cultural identity of these policies has been preserved from the days of Aboriginals and passed down to every new generation, by word of mouth. These practices carry the value through which aboriginals evolved; it is like the phrase-‘Never forget the hands that raised you.’ Hence, when the codes of these people are sure to be preserved, policy integration will be a success.

And the last, perhaps the most debated concern amongst information professionals is the Local Environmental Knowledge Intellectual Property Rights. The only way to make these people feel important is to give them control. These people want to have a sui generis protection system that can give them commercial and other rights over their knowledge. The prevention of traditional methods and objects (symbols) from being used in practices they were not intended for, and in locations that were not approved of by them is essential for successful policy collaboration. You cannot marginalize them and expect to get the best of them. We see this with how Blacks are treated around the World. When a group of people feel marginalize, it is impossible to get their full corporation.

These generalized methodologies can ensure effective combination of Indigenous Knowledge with Scientific Knowledge. With the words of Brokensha et al., 1980, let’s remember: To ignore people’s knowledge is almost to ensure failure in development.

Ngulube. P., 03/2002. Managing and Preserving Indigenous Knowledge In The Knowledge Management Era: challenges and opportunities for information professionals. ResearchGate.

Agrawal. A., (2004). Indigenous and Scientific Knowledge: Some critical Comments. IK Monitor 3 (3) Agrawal. Retrieved on 05/22/2020 from http://www.nuffic.nl/ciran/ikdm/3-3/articles/agrawal.html

Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property-Background Brief. World Intellectual Property Right Organization. Retrieved on 06/21/2020 from https://www.wipo.int/pressroom/en/briefs/tk_ip.html

Horowitz. s. L., (2015). Local Environmental Knowledge. ResearchGate

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