PerspectiveEnvironment

Bridging indigenous and scientific knowledge

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Science  10 Jun 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6291, pp. 1274-1275
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf1160

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Summary

Indigenous land use practices have a fundamental role to play in controlling deforestation and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Satellite imagery suggests that indigenous lands contribute substantially to maintaining carbon stocks and enhancing biodiversity relative to adjoining territory (1). Many of these sustainable land use practices are born, developed, and successfully implemented by the community without major influence from external stakeholders (2). A prerequisite for such community-owned solutions is indigenous knowledge, which is local and context-specific, transmitted orally or through imitation and demonstration, adaptive to changing environments, collectivized through a shared social memory, and situated within numerous interlinked facets of people's lives (3). Such local ecological knowledge is increasingly important given the growing global challenges of ecosystem degradation and climate change (4).