Knowledge, Learning and the Evolution of Conservation Practice for Social-Ecological System Resilience

By Berkes, Fikret; Turner, Nancy J. | Human Ecology, August 2006 | Go to article overview

Knowledge, Learning and the Evolution of Conservation Practice for Social-Ecological System Resilience


Berkes, Fikret, Turner, Nancy J., Human Ecology


Published online: 11 April 2006

There are two broadly conceptualized ways in which conservation knowledge may evolve: the depletion crisis model and the ecological understanding model. The first one argues that developing conservation thought and practice depends on learning that resources are depletable. Such learning typically follows a resource crisis. The second mechanism emphasizes the development of conservation practices following the incremental elaboration of environmental knowledge by a group of people. These mechanisms may work together. Following a perturbation, a society can self-organize, learn and adapt. The self-organizing process, facilitated by knowledge development and learning, has the potential to increase the resilience (capability to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change) of resource use systems. Hence, conservation knowledge can develop through a combination of long-term ecological understanding and learning from crises and mistakes. It has survival value, as it increases the resilience of integrated social-ecological systems to deal with change in ways that continue to sustain both peoples and their environments.

KEY WORDS: resource management; conservation; indigenous knowledge; traditional ecological knowledge; resilience; adaptive learning; common property; institutions.

INTRODUCTION

There has been a resurgence of interest in community-based conservation and resource management systems using customary practices and local knowledge in many parts of the world, including Oceania (Johannes, 1998), New Zealand (Taiepa et al., 1997), Indonesia (Alcorn et al., 2003), Alaska (Hunn et al., 2003), the Amazon (Holt, 2005), and elsewhere (see the other papers in this issue). Considerable attention has been focused on the role of local and traditional knowledge in conservation. But we know little about how conservation knowledge develops among indigenous groups and small-scale rural communities. The question of the creation and development of knowledge is important in regard to the nature of community-based conservation and resource management. A debate has developed between two schools of thought on the question of whether local management is in fact conservation.

On one side of the debate, there are detailed descriptions of a great many indigenous knowledge and conservation systems (Berkes, 1999; Blackburn and Anderson, 1993; Boyd, 1999; Deur and Turner, 2005; Turner et al., 2003). There is an increasingly comprehensive appreciation of traditional ecological knowledge and ethnoecology as systems of local and indigenous conservation (Ford and Martinez, 2000; Turner et al., 2000). In many cases, knowledge is developed by feedback learning, as in adaptive management (Lee, 1993). Also available is a large literature base analyzing the conditions under which the 'tragedy of the commons' is avoided and local common property institutions may develop for resource management (Ostrom, 1990; Ostrom et al., 2002).

On the other side of the debate, a number of authors have questioned whether these systems could be considered to represent 'conservation' and, by extension, whether users of customary resources can be entrusted with management. In particular, some see conservation as an incidental by-product of what might be optimal foraging strategies (Alvard, 1993; Aswani, 1998). For example, Smith and Wishnie (2000) argue that the evidence on the effectiveness of indigenous conservation is weak if conservation is defined in terms of the two criteria of effect and design. That is, any action or practice 'should (a) prevent or mitigate resource depletion, species extirpation, or habitat degradation, and (b) be designed to do so' (Smith and Wishnie, 2000, p. 501).

Using similar criteria of effect and design, Johannes (2002) observed that some groups have conservation practices and some do not, but generalizations are difficult to make, and space and time considerations are important. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Knowledge, Learning and the Evolution of Conservation Practice for Social-Ecological System Resilience
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.