Indigenous people vital for understanding environmental change

July 29, 2020

Grassroots knowledge from Indigenous people can help to map and monitor ecological changes and improve scientific studies, according to Rutgers-led research.

The study, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, shows the importance of Indigenous and local knowledge for monitoring ecosystem changes and managing ecosystems. The team collected more than 300 indicators developed by Indigenous people to monitor ecosystem change, and most revealed negative trends, such as increased invasive species or changes in the health of wild animals. Such local knowledge influences decisions about where and how to hunt, benefits ecosystem management and is important for scientific monitoring at a global scale.

"Scientists and Indigenous communities working together are needed to understand our rapidly changing world," said lead author
Indigenous and local knowledge is the practical information that people use to manage resources and pass on between generations. Such knowledge benefits conservation initiatives and economies that depend on natural resources in vast areas of the world.

The study follows the

The new study, by researchers at many institutions who were part of the global assessment, provides background on how the report tapped into Indigenous knowledge systems and lessons learned. Working with these local sources of information in ecological research and in management requires a deliberate approach from the start, additional resources and engagement with stakeholders reflecting diverse worldviews, McElwee said.

"Partnering with Indigenous peoples can help scientists and researchers understand how natural and cultural systems affect each other, identify trends through diverse indicators and improve sustainable development goals and policies for all," she said.
-end-


Rutgers University

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