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Effective involvement of indigenous communities to enhance sustainable resource management

Posted by Melckzedeck Osore on Thursday, 10 January 2013 05:24

Dear Member of the Surface Freshwater CoP,

I am a Research Scientist at the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) working on the GEF/WB Kenya Coastal Development Project, to strengthen conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biodiversity and to support climate change mitigation initiatives.

The ecological impacts from accelerating pressures on coastal ecosystems are of serious social and cultural concern. The degradation of coastal resources negatively impacts on local communities, often felt intensely by indigenous peoples, who are increasingly unable to access coastal ecosystem services such as food that they have long relied upon for cultural traditions, sustenance, and recreation (Hardy et al. 2011).

Furthermore, the scientific community has been working on ways to identify different ecosystem services and to bring them on par to allow tradeoff analysis and inform targeting of policies. However, those ultimately governing ecosystem services continue to base their decisions on traditional knowledge production segregated to specific habitats, ecosystems, geographical areas and sectors (Primmer & Furman, 2012).

Can you share an example of integration of multiple knowledge sources in the economic valuation of an ecosystem where indigenous traditional knowledge has been used to capture the more cultural/traditional values?

What methods and approaches in particular were used to determine these cultural/traditional values that have elsewhere been ignored at the expense of modern scientific priorities?

Using a combination of traditional ecological knowledge and science to monitor populations can greatly assist co-management for sustainable customary wildlife harvests by indigenous peoples. Case studies from Canada and New Zealand emphasize that, although traditional monitoring methods may often be imprecise and qualitative, they are nevertheless valuable because they are based on observations over long time periods, incorporate large sample sizes, are inexpensive, invite the participation of harvesters as researchers, and sometimes incorporate subtle multivariate cross checks for environmental change (Moller et al., 2004).

Do you also have examples where the socio-economic study had a capacity building component to engage with those actors who ultimately understand, manage and benefit from the services on longer-term monitoring of sound management of natural resources?

Can you please describe the process?


Posted by Mark Smith on Wednesday, January 16, 2013 11:24 AM

Hello Melckzedek.

Thanks for this question following up on our good discussions at the IW:LEARN valuation workshop in Addis. Your question immediately made me think of Tai baan research in the Mekong region of Asia. This is an approach where communities themselves undertake research themselves. Academic researchers help them, but when it works well the questions, data collection, analysis and interpretation are led by the community members. They then take forward the results into community level NRM, but also into advocacy.

The example I know best involved communities in Thailand undertaking research on the life cycle of Mekong fish that they used in their livelihoods. Armed with their own new knowledge on the biology of these fish, the communities then argued the case for stopping the engineering of the river channel for ship navigation. Their message had a lot of impact and led to a re-design of the proposed project.

You can read a stories about this here:




You can find technical guidance here:


Are there other examples from other parts of the world that others know about too?

Best wishes



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