Environmental Management

, Volume 45, Issue 5, pp 922–938 | Cite as

Understanding the Value of Local Ecological Knowledge and Practices for Habitat Restoration in Human-Altered Floodplain Systems: A Case from Bangladesh



Worldwide there is a declining trend in natural fish catch (FAO, The state of world fisheries and aquaculture. http://www.fao.org/documents/show_cdr.asp?url_file=/docrep/007/y5600e/y5600e00.htm, 2002) and Bangladesh is no exception. The vast inland fisheries of Bangladesh have been declining over the years, largely a result of human alteration of the aquatic habitats arising from human interventions in the floodplain systems such as the establishment of water control structures which favor agricultural production but reduce fish habitats. It can be assumed that conventional management measures are not adequate to conserve natural fisheries and exploring alternative knowledge systems to complement existing management is warranted. This paper focuses on local ecological knowledge and several other local practices held by fishers engaging directly with floodplain ecosystems. These knowledge systems and practices may be valuable tools for understanding ecosystems processes and related changes and developing local level responses to avert negative consequences of such changes. This may help in devising alternatives to ecosystem management and the conservation of floodplain fish habitats of Bangladesh and elsewhere in the world. This study was conducted in a natural depression (locally called beel) and its surrounding floodplain system located in north central Bangladesh which has become highly degraded. The results of the study indicate that the fishers and local users of the floodplain ecosystems are rich in local ecological knowledge concerning the hydrology of the floodplains and small lakes, the habitat preferences of fish, the role of agricultural crops on fish habitats, and the impact of habitat human interventions in aquatic ecosystems. Given the apparent inadequacy of the present management regime, this article argues for an inclusion of local knowledge and practices into habitat management as a more holistic approach to floodplain habitat restoration and conservation that encourages multi-level cooperation and which builds on diversified knowledge systems.


Inland fisheries Fishers Habitat degradation Habitat conservation Local ecological knowledge Local practices Sanctuaries 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Natural Resources InstituteUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  2. 2.Department of Geography and Environmental StudiesWilfred Laurier UniversityWaterlooCanada

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