Traditional Ecological Knowledge of a Riverine Forest in Turkana, Kenya: Implications for Research and Management
- 535 Downloads
The present study explores traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) of Turkana pastoralists and cultivators in the context of a riverine forest in northern Kenya. The Turkwel River and its floodplain sustain a thick forest, which is used for grazing and extraction of non-timber forest products. However, sedentarisation and agricultural expansion have resulted in localised clear-felling of trees, while river damming has altered the natural flow regime. A series of structured, semi-structured, and group interviews were combined with a botanical inventory in order to assess the relevance of TEK to ecological research and forest conservation. Turkana informants gave 102 vernacular names for the 113 woody species. Of these, 85% had a domestic or pastoral use among the 105 specific uses that were described. Ethnobotanical knowledge was relatively homogenous and not related to age, gender, or source of livelihood. The informants had in-depth knowledge of some key ecological processes. The conceived threats to forest survival were primarily cultivation and permanent settlements, while the effects of river damming and livestock grazing were disputed. A claimed decline in rainfall was confirmed by official data. There is strong evidence that TEK could be used to generate hypotheses for research and to design sustainable conservation strategies. A revised version of the indigenous system of tree management should be incorporated into the official forestry policy in order to resolve future conflicts between pastoralists and cultivators.
Key wordsConservation Ethnobotany Ethnoecology Floodplain forest Indigenous knowledge Non-timber forest products Turkwel River Woody species richness
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
This study was funded by the Research Council of Norway (Project No. 148773/730) and research permission was granted by the Government of Kenya (MOEST 13/001/32C 279). We are highly indebted to all the field assistants, informants and respondents for their kind participation. Special thanks go to Boaz Ekiru, Charles Ekal, and Philip Esimit for their enthusiasm in the field, and to Geoffrey Mungai for helping us with the species identification. Emily Wabuyele, Charlotte Sletten Bjorå, Tesfaye Awas, Ingrid Nesheim, Hassan Guyo Roba, and Marit Ruge Bjærke gave valuable comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.
- Agnew ADQ, Agnew S (1994) Upland Kenya wild flowers: a flora of the ferns and herbaceous flowering plants of upland kenya. East Africa Natural History Society, NairobiGoogle Scholar
- Austin MP (1990) Community theory and competition in vegetation. In: Grace JB, Tilman D (eds) Perspectives on plant competition. Academic Press, San Diego, CA, pp 215–238Google Scholar
- Beentje H (1994) Kenya trees, shrubs and lianas. National Museums of Kenya, NairobiGoogle Scholar
- Donovan DG, Puri RK (2004) Learning from traditional knowledge of non-timber forest products: Penan Benalui and the autecology of Aquilaria in Indonesian Borneo. Ecol Soc 9:3Google Scholar
- Hughes FMR (1987) Conflicting uses for forest resources in the Lower Tana River basin of Kenya. In: Anderson D, Grove R (eds) Conservation in Africa: people, policies and practice. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 211–228Google Scholar
- Luoga EJ, Witkowski ETF, Balkwill K (2000) Differential utilization and ethnobotany of trees in Kitulanghalo Forest Reserve and surrounding communal lands, eastern Tanzania. Econ Bot 54:328–343Google Scholar
- McCullagh P, Nelder JA (1989) Generalized linear models. Chapman & Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar
- Medley KE (1993) Extractive forest resources of the Tana River National Primate Reserve, Kenya. Econ Bot 47:171–183Google Scholar
- Morgan WTW (1981) Ethnobotany of the Turkana: use of plants by a pastoral people and their livestock in Kenya. Econ Bot 35:96–130Google Scholar
- Phillips O, Gentry AH (1993) The useful plants of Tambopata, Peru: II. Additional hypothesis testing in quantitative ethnobotany. Econ Bot 47:33–43Google Scholar
- Scoones I (1991) Wetlands in drylands: key resources for agricultural and pastoral production in Africa. Ambio 20:366–371Google Scholar
- Sillitoe P, Bicker A, Pottier J (2002) Participating in development: approaches to indigenous knowledge. American Society of Anthropologists Monographs No. 39, Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
- Van Bremen H, Kinyanjui HCK (1992) Soils of the Lodwar area: an inventory of soils, an evaluation of present land use and recommendation for future land use. Reconnaissance Soil Survey Report No. R17, Kenya Soil Survey, NairobiGoogle Scholar