Indigenous Knowledge: A
Conceptual Framework and a
Case from Solomon Islands
Despite unprecedented interest in local and indigenous ecological knowledge (IEK) over the last 20 years, there is still a lack of awareness of the complexity in IEK and the barriers to its effective use for ecosystem management. Development professionals and project participants often minimize the importance of social structures and biophysical features of the ecosystem that support systems of IEK and how the process of change impacts that system.
This paper describes research that attempts to expand and refine the understanding of IEK as dynamic and place-based to better inform contemporary ecosystem management. Local ecological knowledge can be understood as knowledge that emerges from a complex of context, practice and belief (CPB). This conceptual framework incorporates structural and organizational features of human ecosystem interaction and concepts of space and time in the understanding of IEK.
A case example from the communities of Uzamba and Valapata in the Solomon Islands shows that understanding how people are engaged within their surroundings, instead of documenting knowledge that can be articulated, can assist in bridging differences in worldviews between researchers and indigenous peoples.
Woodley, E. 2004. Local and Indigenous
Ecological Knowledge as an Emergent
Property of a Complex System: A Case
Study in the Solomon Islands. Paper
prepared for the Millenium Ecosystem
Assessment Conference “Bridging Scales
and Epistemologies”, 17–20 March 2004.