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New meanings for old knowledge: the people's biodiversity registers program

Gadgil, Madhav and Rao, Seshagiri PR and Utkarsh, G and Pramod, P and Chhatre, Ashwini (2000) New meanings for old knowledge: the people's biodiversity registers program. In: Ecological Applications, 10 (5). pp. 1307-1317.


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The program of Peoples Biodiversity Registers (PBR) is an attempt to promote folk ecological knowledge and wisdom in two ways: by devising more formal means for their maintenance, and by creating new contexts for their continued practice. PBRs document folk ecological knowledge and practices involving the use of natural resources, with the help of local educational institutions and NGOs working in collaboration with local, decentralized institutions of governance. During 1996-1998, 52 such documents were prepared from village clusters distributed in eight states and union territories representing a wide spectrum of ecological and social regimes of India. They reveal a picture of generally declining productivity and diversity of living resources outside of intensively managed ecosystems. There are, however, notable exceptions; two of our case studies provide examples of self-organized systems of management that have successfully protected, and indeed promoted, restoration of forest and wildlife resources. The PBRs also indicate a widespread erosion of practical ecological knowledge and of traditions of sustainable use and conservation. This is linked to the fact that those most intimately dependent on and knowledgeable about biodiversity belong to the economically and politically most disadvantaged segments of the society. In consequence, conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity are not a high priority among the development aspirations held by the people. Nevertheless, people are concerned about degradation of the base of living resources and offer a number of concrete suggestions on their management. In fact, in a few cases, the PER exercises have encouraged people to put such measures for more prudent use of local biodiversity resources into practice. The process of preparation of PBRs, as well as the resultant documents, could serve a significant role in promoting more sustainable, flexible, participatory systems of management and in ensuring a better flow of benefits from economic use of the living resources to the local communities.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: Ecological Applications
Publisher: Ecological Society of America
Keywords: adaptive co-management;benefit sharing;CBD;conservation priorities;development aspirations;folk knowledge;India; Peoples's Biodiversity Registers;Traditional Ecological Knowledge.
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Date Deposited: 14 Feb 2007
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2010 04:15
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/1682

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