, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 287-300
Date: 23 Mar 2012

Pyrenean Pastoralists’ Ecological Knowledge: Documentation and Application to Natural Resource Management and Adaptation

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Pastoral production systems in the Spanish Pyrenees have changed dramatically in recent decades, leading to the loss of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK). We documented TEK of pastoralists from two valleys in the western Central Pyrenees of Aragón and explored its potential applications to resource management and adaptation. Pyrenean pastoralists possess extensive knowledge of relationships between terrain, climate, vegetation and animal nutrition and behavior. TEK could contribute to sustainable stewardship and facilitate adaptation by informing pasture monitoring; providing traditional practices to manage mountain vegetation; and preserving knowledge of extensive livestock production strategies, such as transhumance. Institutional barriers to applying TEK include weak economic cooperation among stockmen, their dependence on EU subsidies, and lack of voice in regional government decisions about local resources. A more collaborative, place-based stewardship of the Central Pyrenees might begin with direct involvement of pastoralists in designing monitoring of pasture conditions and vegetation type changes.