Methodological Insights Linked To Local Ecological Knowledge and Science

Published: 2019-09-24 07:30:00
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IntroductionLocal knowledge is a technical knowhow that is unique among a given group or society, mostly in rural areas (Boven&Morash, 2002). It can be referred as a collective information base through which communication and decision-making processes are based on with regards to food security, health, education, natural resource management and climate change adaptation (Beckford & Barker, 2007). Through the high accumulation of experiences over a vast number of years, local knowledge is obtained by a given people; this could be through the conduction of informal experiments and having a proper understanding of the environment (Beckford & Barker, 2007). For instance, mushrooms are used to forecast the rainfall season in Tanzania. As soon as farmers find mushrooms have sprouted in the bushes, they begin to prepare their crop fields as this is taken to be a sign that soils are moist and the rainfall season is about to begin (Kangalawe, Mwakalila&Masolwa, 2011). Whilst in cases of drought, farmers through their experience have changed their farm management practices, for instance, by planting drought resistant crops such as cassava (Mertz et al., 2009; Kangalawe, Mwakalila&Masolwa, 2011).

Scientific knowledge

Scientific knowledge is a systematic information base from which scientists 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 used in the preservation of local knowledge versus scientific knowledge is highly important in knowing the value and validity of local knowledge in comparison to acquired scientific knowledge (Parrotta, Oteng-Yeboah and Cobbinah, 2009).

The paper is going to analyze the merits of local knowledge versus scientific knowledge. Next, we are going to analyze the merits of merging both local knowledge and scientific knowledge. In the analysis of the importance of local knowledge in the current scientific studies, I am going to analyze if there is credibility in merging local knowledge and scientific knowledge.

Main body

Data collection in local knowledge acquisition involves the use of current observable features that helps the observer to develop insight in an event that is yet to occur. Local knowledge revolves around the use of locally available information to help in the design of the best mechanism when dealing with natural activities like environmental protection, wildlife habitat conservancy, and agricultural practices.

Methodological Insights linked of Local Knowledge and Scientific Knowledge

Local knowledge is applicable to various fields of the human life. 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 the preservation of the environment and creation of natural coexistence between the human kind, animals, and nature (Hodge, Hauck and Bonn, 2015).

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 depend on the understanding of the workings of nature (Munn and Timmerman, 2002). People with an understanding of local knowledge will benefit humanity through the provision of insights into the ecological and biological workings of the environment.

Making comparisons of scientific knowledge and local knowledge, one can notice amicable differences between the two fountains. 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 are 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 (Berkes, Colding and Folke, 2000).

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 depend 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 (Fairlamb and Bateson, 1979).

Local knowledge is holistic, and it takes the activities of nature be they on the animal, human kind and their environment as one big web that is all interconnected. This perspective is different from the scientific knowledge that analyses activities in nature based on cause and effect. Local knowledge and scientific knowledge are not different; the fact is that they complement each other, and it is best that a mechanism is developed that integrates both sources of knowledge.

Data Collection Methods.

Local knowledge is qualitative in nature, in most cases, data gathering in local knowledge involves the use of qualitative sources of information.

Interviews

In most cases local knowledge is transferred from one generation to the next. It is difficult to obtain this information because in most cases much of the information is not recorded in the journal. The data available can be obtained through the conduction of interviews. This would mean consultations with people who have this information.

Interviews can be planned out using structured questions that are open ended. Open-ended interviews help in allowing the interviewee to divulge information that was not initially asked in the questionnaire.

Observations

Observation is the key strategy for data collection in the quest to gain knowledge in local sciences. As most of the practices conducted by locals using traditional knowledge is conducted from a practical perspective, empirical observation exercises need to be conducted. It is important that this information is obtained by observing the activities the locals perform.

Observation would mean taking into consideration the methods that local use in plant disease management, animal disease management, wildlife habitat management, environmental monitoring and water catchment areas protection. It is important to observe the activities conducted in handling the above-mentioned concerns. Recording of the data observed will help a researcher to do a background check of the reasons why the locals use certain plants and herbs to handle small problems that they encounter in plant and animal life management.

Challenges in Handling Local Knowledge

Local knowledge possesses a challenge in comprehending it from a scientific point of view. There is no universal definition for local knowledge; there is a great confusion around the terms local, indigenous, traditional, folk and farmers knowledge. The critical conception of what local knowledge is and how to define it is incomprehensive.

The ambiguity in local knowledge is that of having a common explanation that describes the relationship between living beings with plants and their symbiotic relationship to nature. The challenge lies in the credibility of local knowledge as it is passed down from one generation to the next. This means that there is a possible distortion of the information, as, over the years, some pieces of information could be lost and this may lead to the deterioration of the currently available local knowledge. Integrating of local knowledge into the current faculties of scientific information is challenging as one clearly cannot comprehend how to.

Disadvantages of Local Knowledge Data Collection Methods

Time consuming

A collection of local knowledge is time-consuming as it is time intensive to asses and collect information that is not stored in any material form. The lack of written sources of local knowledge possesses a challenge to the researcher. The only approach that is viable and available to researchers is conduction of interviews and observations of the activities of the locals.

Not transferable

Local knowledge is not in any tangible form. The knowledge is only available by word of mouth and in most cases it is not recorded in any material form. The researcher cannot find the mechanism of transferring this piece of information. The immobility of this source of knowledge makes it difficult for scientists to collect data for later analysis. This poses a challenge in the integration of local knowledge and scientific knowledge.

Cannot be pushed

Data collection in the field of local or traditional knowledge is difficult for researchers; the knowledge cannot be pushed from one form to another. This knowledge cannot be collected and be analyzed scientifically. The intricacies in the depth of the information assessed and collected makes it tough for one to develop a thesis and develop theoretical frameworks for analysis.

Sample size

The limitation of local knowledge comes with the inability to develop a concise sample size for analysis. The size of the sample data is limiting for research. Local knowledge is highly important though in many scenarios the knowledge is limited to only a few fields in ecology. Further, the information needed can only be obtained from a few people; this limits the need to have a wide range of information for analysis. It is difficult to analyze and draw objective conclusions from a small sample size.

Link between Local Knowledge and Scientific Knowledge

Scientific knowledge and local knowledge are a practical application of knowledge in solving the problems of the 21st century. For generations, many locals from different parts of the world have developed a mechanism of handling catastrophies, crops disease, and animal disease management. On the other hand, scientific knowledge takes in quantitative data that is a representation of the general challenges in the environment. In this case, scientific knowledge involves taking small samples of plants and animals under study in order to draw conclusions and find solutions to the challenges affecting the environment.

The growth and development of industries and civilization contributed to the destruction and wiping out of local knowledge in many civilizations in the world. Scientific knowledge has for ages dominated as the primary source of insights into handling challenges in the environment. The imposition of Western scient...

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