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Storing and sharing: A review of indigenous and local knowledge conservation initiatives

Abstract

Despite its relative adaptive capacity and its many values, indigenous and local knowledge (ILK) is rapidly eroding. Over the past decades a myriad of efforts have emerged to prevent this erosion. In this work, we reviewed and systematically coded 138 ILK conservation initiatives published in academic papers in order to explore trends in participation, digitalization, timing, location, and approach of the initiatives. We also explored factors influencing initiative inclusiveness. Our findings reveal that ILK holders are generally absent from most phases of the studied initiatives, although IT-based and in situ initiatives (i.e., education and community based conservation) appear as the exceptions. We also found that ex situ initiatives (i.e., research/documentation and policy/legislation efforts) are predominant, despite the challenges they reportedly face. These findings call for re-formulating the ways in which ex situ ILK conservation is done and for supporting in situ and IT based initiatives, as they offer the potential to lead the participatory turn.

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  1. 1.

    Many terms have been proposed to define this concept, including Traditional Knowledge, Indigenous Knowledge, Folk Knowledge or Local Knowledge. Here, we use the term Indigenous and Local Knowledge (ILK) recently proposed by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (https://www.ipbes.net/deliverables/1c-ilk), except when referring to the work of other authors, when we use their own terminology.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank S. Villamayor-Tomás for methodological advice regarding systematic reviewing and qualitative meta-analysis and B. Peco for statistical support. Research leading to this article received funding through the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, both through the project CSO2014-59704-P and through P. Benyei’s pre-doctoral grant (BES-2015-072155). This work contributes to the “María de Maeztu Unit of Excellence” (MdM-2015-0552).

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Benyei, P., Arreola, G. & Reyes-García, V. Storing and sharing: A review of indigenous and local knowledge conservation initiatives. Ambio 49, 218–230 (2020) doi:10.1007/s13280-019-01153-6

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Keywords

  • Inclusiveness
  • Indigenous and local knowledge
  • Knowledge conservation
  • Systematic review