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Factors influencing local ecological knowledge maintenance in Mediterranean watersheds: Insights for environmental policies


Local ecological knowledge (LEK) has been found to be one of the main bridges to manage biocultural diversity. We analyzed the factors affecting LEK maintenance and transmission in a Mediterranean watershed. We used a mixed methods approach to evaluate the agricultural LEK in three different dimensions: biological, soil and water management, and forecasting. We found that the main factors for its maintenance were the respondent's time living in the area and the social relationships established among farmers, which involved partner collaboration and farmer information exchanges. Protected areas also played a key role for maintaining the LEK associated with soil and water management. Finally, we found that outmigration and mechanization were the most important indirect drivers of change underlying LEK erosion. We suggest that environmental policies should focus on promoting this experiential knowledge, considering both intergenerational renewal and the gendered aspects of this knowledge.

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We thank all the people from the Nacimiento Comarca and Cecilio Oyonarte who kindly collaborated with us during fieldwork. We thank Erik Gómez-Baggethun for his help during the early stages of the research. We also thank two anonymous reviewers, the editors and Marina García-Llorente for their inspiring comments on a previous draft. This research was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (project CGL2011-30266).

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Correspondence to Irene Iniesta-Arandia.

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Iniesta-Arandia, I., del Amo, D.G., García-Nieto, A.P. et al. Factors influencing local ecological knowledge maintenance in Mediterranean watersheds: Insights for environmental policies. AMBIO 44, 285–296 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-014-0556-1

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  • Drivers of change
  • Gender
  • Protected area
  • Semi-arid areas
  • Traditional agriculture
  • Traditional ecological knowledge