Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures

pp 1-7

Date: Latest Version

Knowledge Systems: Indigenous Knowledge of Trees and Forests

  • Mihir K. JenaAffiliated withFoundation for Ecological Security
  • , Klaus Theo SeelandAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental Systems Sciences, Group ‘Society, Environment & Culture, ETHZ (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) Email author 

The knowledge of indigenous peoples about the use and maintenance of natural resources and their environment has accumulated over many generations and comprises local practices for biodiversity conservation. Such practices are generally rooted in a combination of local ecological knowledge and belief systems that have developed over a long period of time. Indigenous knowledge basically refers to a system of local perceptions, practices, technologies, and skills that are unique to a specific culture and region.

The interrelationship between cultural and spiritual values of plants and other natural resources that are part of local people’s cosmology has since long been studied in conjunction with their practices, supporting that indigenous beliefs have a significant influence on people’s local use and management behavior (Elisabetsky & Posey, 1994). As Posey (1999) notes, anthropologists have now a major task to further document and study the local context of these cultural and spiritual ...

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