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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 : 2016  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 57-70

A classification of threats to traditional ecological knowledge and conservation responses


1 Current affiliation: Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy, International Union for Conservation of Nature; Research conducted at: School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
2 Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA

Correspondence Address:
Ruifei Tang
Current affiliation: Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy, International Union for Conservation of Nature; Research conducted at: School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington
New Zealand
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.182799

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Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) shapes human-environment interactions across much of the globe. Numerous case studies have provided evidence of TEK degradation, with substantial implications for the status of biodiversity. Previous studies draw on diverse academic disciplines, each with a unique set of theoretical constructs and discipline-specific jargon. The lack of a standard lexicon for TEK threats and conservation actions impedes the comparative work needed to understand broad patterns of TEK degradation and implications for biodiversity conservation planning. Based on a literature review (n=152 sources), questionnaires (n=137 respondents), and semi-structured interviews (n=63 interviewees), we developed a classification system for both, threats to TEK and corresponding conservation actions. We find TEK degradation to be widespread (89% of cases in literature and 87% of cases from questionnaire) and typically driven by a complex web of threats acting at different spatial and temporal scales. Conservation responses can best address this interconnectivity through the involvement of multiple actors across different institutional and spatial levels. We also demonstrate the utility of the classification system by applying it to an examination of TEK threats in Inner Mongolia, China.


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