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Global localism: Recentering the research agenda for biodiversity conservation

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Global environmental crisis narratives about biodiversity loss promote conservation research on how human activities impact natural resources and link scientific findings to protectionist policies. This paper critiques how local knowledge, over space and through time, is constructed for these studies and integrated with ecological measures and qualitative interpretations of biodiversity conditions. As a case example, we describe how ethnoecological research at Mt. Kasigau, a biodiversity hot spot in Southeastern Kenya, changes ‘scientific’ views on human–resource relations. Species richness in woody plants and local knowledge about trees show resource continua on the mountain that question the designation of diverse undisturbed forests and degraded human-utilized lands. Local narratives document spatially dynamic and adaptive relationships between the Kasigau Taita and their plant resources as they moved up and down the mountain in response to environmental conditions and extra local forces. We argue that greater ‘local learning’ about local places is important to hypothesizing and potentially guiding ‘global action’ for biodiversity conservation.

Keywords: East Africa; Eastern Arc mountains; Ethnoecology; Participatory research

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Miami University, Oxford, OH, USA

Publication date: 2007-05-01

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