IUFROLAT III Session Highlights: Traditional Forest Knowledge
Traditional forest-related knowledge: its contribution to sustainable forest landscape management
For more information on IUFRO Taskforce on Traditional Forest Knowledge: http://www.iufro.org/science/task-forces/traditional-forest-knowledge/
The general consensus of why forests are important is changing to include not only the economic benefits but the cultural and social attributes as well. There is an increasing recognition of the relevance of traditional-forest related knowledge (TFK) in new science, policy and management issues. It is important to understand TFK and its role in our past and how we can apply it in the future.
The session entitled “Traditional forest-related knowledge: its contribution to sustainable forest landscape management”, brought together a roomful of researchers to discuss the importance of TFK in forest science, policy making, and cultural heritage.
John Parrotta, presented on IUFRO activities in TFK and highlighted the publication, “Traditional Forest–Related Knowledge: Sustaining Communities, Ecosystems”, that provides an up-to-date summary of the emerging field of traditional forest management. He introduced the key elements to TFK including; sustainability, relationships, identity, reciprocity, and limits on exchange and highlighted the importance it plays in our food security, agricultural productivity, monitoring environmental change, and preparing for climate change mitigation and adaptation.
TFK and practices have sustained, and continue to sustain, the rich cultures and livelihoods of rural communities in spite of significant political, social, and economic obstacles.
In his presentation, Christian Gamborg, to great agreement, highlighted the main problem in TFK – it is being lost by its holders, there is inadequate enforcement of national and international commitments to support TFK, it lacks recognition by users and there is potential misappropriation of knowledge. The relation between science and TFK is growing stronger and there can be mutually beneficial. When holders of TFK and scientists meet it is important to ensure that there is free, prior and informed consent and that the results of the research and projects are readily accessible in order to benefit share. Perhaps, most importantly it was stressed that there needs to be protection efforts to deal with traditional knowledge.
Marco Fioravanti introduced a new side to TFK by identifying the forces that drive our personal development and societal collective development in the context of the history of wood. Wood has been utilized to create objects which are now cultural artefacts, and part of our identity. He highlighted how the wood use, and crafting processes of the people of past serve as a repository of technological knowledge and intangible knowledge. TFK and historical wood products and buildings preserve our history and identity.
Monica Gabay spoke of the history of indigenous people in Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile and how they interpret the forest compared to the people who conquered the area. She highlighted in importance the forest played in the lives of the indigenous that depended upon it for their survival, medicine, food, and culture. Forests also played an important part in the spiritual life of the indigenous as many of their Gods lived in the forest. After the settlement by the Spaniards, the forest was not seen as the support of man but as a tool to be used. This transition in thought persists to this day, as often Forests are identified as non-productive land
Miguel Pinedo, brought forth the example of the people of the Amazon and how their traditional knowledge is not folklore, it is a practice used daily in many communities. In his example, he showed how the forest dependent communities are adapting to a changing landscape that sees greater flooding, long droughts, and fires. Communities are responding to the floods. These shifts come in the form of switch to subsistence based agriculture from commercial, greater reliance on forestry and agroforestry systems, a diversification of the use of forest products, and more reliance on urban-rural networks. Smallholder systems are inherently adaptable and we can learn from them. It was recommended that local responses to events are documented, policies are crafted to support response mechanisms rather than destroy them, and the systems in place are built upon instead of replaced.
The sessions agreed that TFK is rarely considered or incorporated into adaptation initiatives at global, regional, or national levels, even though they are important resources for dealing with vulnerability to climate change, as well as changes in markets and policies.
Presentations in this session:
Traditional forest-related knowledge: Sustaining communities, ecosystems and biocultural diversity (John Parrotta, US Forest Service, USA)
Facilitating Greater Engagement with Forest Peoples: Ethics and Research Methodologies for TFRK Study (Christian Gamborg, University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
The use of history in the assessment and understanding of traditional forest-related knowledge. (Mauro Agnoletti, University of Florence, Italy)
Traditional forest-related knowledge in Argentina, Bolivia and Chile. (Monica Gabay, Secretaria de Ambiente y Desarrollo Sustentable, Argentina)
Traditional Forest Knowledge: An Amazonian resource for adaptation and mitigation to climate change. (Miguel Pinedo, CIFOR)