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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2007  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 343-360

Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Conservation Research: Problems and Prospects for their Constructive Engagement

Duke University Marine Lab, Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, Duke University, 135 Duke Marine Lab Road, Beaufort, NC 28516, USA

Correspondence Address:
Janna M Shackeroff
Duke University Marine Lab, 135 Duke Marine Lab Road, Beaufort, NC 28516
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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In response to growing interest in accessing traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) for conservation purposes, we discuss some of the complexi­ties involved in doing TEK research. Specifically, we consider the issues of power and politicisation, ethics and situated knowledge. These are standard issues to be considered in any social scientific endeavour and are particularly compelling when dealing with indigenous groups or cross-cultural contexts. We argue that the human context, and the researcher's ability to adequately understand and account for it, will largely determine the success or failure of TEK research. To this end, we offer three broad recommendations for conser­vation researchers hoping to engage TEK. Only through an informed and conscientious approach can TEK be incorporated into mainstream conserva­tion research in a manner beneficial to both conservation and TEK holders.

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