Local knowledge is a technical knowhow that is unique among a given group or society. It can be referred as a collective information base through which communication and decision-making processes are based on. Through high accumulation of experiences over a vast number of years, local knowledge is obtained by a given people, this could be through conduction of informal experiments and having a proper understanding of the environment. On the other hand scientific knowledge is s systematic information base where scientist rely upon in making deductions and decisions concerning a project at hand. Scientific knowledge is obtained through a series of formal research procedures and experimentation in order to determine the cause and effect of a given input in the case of an environmental study. Understanding the methods sued in preservation of local knowledge vs scientific knowledge is highly important in knowing the importance and validity of local knowledge in comparison to acquired scientific knowledge.
An understanding of how local/traditional knowledge and its significant differences with scientific knowledge is important in knowing the best way to use it skillfully. An integration of local knowledge that is antic and proven time and again is a sure basis of understanding environmental studies. Local knowledge proves to be of credible significance to the different societies, over the years this knowledge is passed on from generations to generations. Science needs to merge with local knowledge in order to make scientific deductions with local knowledge as base.
Local knowledge for year has been stored in different forms, different societies incorporated different mechanism of knowledge passing from generation to generation. Most of the societies incorporated the use of stone tablets and other artefacts that is handed from father to son over centuries. In many scenarios sacred knowledge of the existence of deities and the knowledge of the environment are all interlaced together as one. The knowledge of religious practices do not fade away with time and hence knowledge about the environment has been kept virgin in many societies like the traditional knowledge systems in the arctic.
Local Knowledge VS Scientific Knowledge
Local knowledge is applicable to various fields of the life human kind, for centuries local knowledge has been instrumental in environmental management and monitoring. Local knowledge has been pivotal in cultural preservation in many societies, the art of resource management, wildlife and sanctuaries protection and the development of environmental ethics. All the above roles played by local knowledge has helped in preservation of the environment and creation of natural coexistence between human kind, animals and nature.
The symbiotic nature of the relationship between nature and human beings is a very significant part of local knowledge. Local knowledge takes heed of developing a symbiotic and co-evolutionary relationship between humans and their environment. Most indigenous people believe in the concept of creating a natural order of things in nature, mostly it takes the approach of understanding the working mechanism of nature and finding solutions that are environmental friendly. Activities such as water management, food and dietetics, agriculture, animal rearing, hunting and even environmental conservation all depends with the understanding of the workings of nature. People with understanding of local knowledge will offer humanity insights into the ecological and biological workings of the environments.
Making comparisons of scientific knowledge and local knowledge, one can notice amicable similarities between the two fountains of knowledge. Scientific knowledge takes a reductive and analytical mechanism that is very different from the perspectives of local knowledge that is holistic and puts intuition to use. Another significant difference is that scientific knowledge and principles is quite objective on the purpose of a certain research, it is quantitative in research trials and deductions. On the flip side local knowledge can be described as being subjective in manner and takes a qualitative approach to the order of activities.
Local knowledge is passed orally from one generation to the next, this knowledge is possessed by the elderly in society. It is said that when an elder dies a library burns. However, scientific knowledge is taken as a tool of learning, it takes an academic perspective that involves learning, experimentation and analysis of the observations. The similarity between scientific knowledge and local knowledge is that both sources of knowledge depends on certain bases of belief and theories and lead to a quest in finding if the observations made do correlate with the initially proposed theorems. Science takes the approach of isolating the subject matter and analyzing it singly, this shows how scientists are able to isolate themselves from their experiments. Local knowledge can be described as holistic and it integrates the activities that encompass nature, they take it in and create solutions.
Local knowledge is holistic and it takes the activities of nature be they on animal, human kind and their environment as one big web that is all interconnected. This perspective is different from scientific knowledge that analyzes activities in nature based on cause and effect. Local knowledge and scientific knowledge are not different, fact is that they complement each other and it is best that a mechanism is developed that integrates the both sources of knowledge.
Berkes F, Colding J, Folke C (2000) Rediscovery of traditional ecological knowledge as adaptive management. Ecol Appl 10: 12511262
Bateson G (1979) Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity. New York, NY, USA: Dutton
Freeman MMR (1992) The nature and utility of traditional ecological knowledge. Northern Perspect 20: 712 www.carc.org/northern_perspectives.php
Nakashima DJ, Roue M (2002) Indigenous knowledge, peoples and sustainable practice. In Timmerman P (ed) Encyclopedia of Global Environmental Change. 5: Social and Economic Dimensions of Global Environmental Change, pp 314324. Chichester, UK: Wiley
The World Conservation Union (1986) Tradition, Conservation and Development. Occasional Newsletter of the Commission on Ecology's Working Group on Traditional Ecological Knowledge No. 4. Gland, Switzerland: The World Conservation Union
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