ArticlePDF Available

Abstract and Figures

Indigenous people number over 300 million. They are inhabitants of practically each main biome of the earth and especially of the least disturbed terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems of the world. Based on an exhaustive review of recently published data, this chapter stresses the strategic importance of indigenous peoples in the maintenance and conservation of world's biodiversity. Four main links between biodiversity and indigenous peoples are examined: the correlation between biological richness and cultural diversity on both geopolitical and biogeographic terms, the strategic importance of indigenous peoples in the biomass appropriation; the remarkable overlap between indigenous territories and world's remaining areas of high biodiversity; and the importance of indigenous views, knowledge and practices in biodiversity conservation. The chapter finishes emphasizing the urgent need for recognizing a new bio-cultural axiom: that world's biodiversity only will be effectively preserved by preserving diversity of cultures and viceversa.
Content may be subject to copyright.
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND BIODIVERSITY*
Victor M. Toledo
Institute of Ecology
National University of Mexico (UNAM)
CONTENTS
I. Introduction
II. Indigenous peoples
III. Biological diversity and diversity of cultures
IV. Biodiversity and biomass appropriation: the role of indigenous peoples
V. Biodiversity and indigenous people's lands and waters
VI. Biodiversity and ethnoecology: indigenous views, knowledge and practices
VII. Conserving biodiversity by empowering indigenous peoples
VIII. Concluding remarks: a bio-cultural axiom
ABSTRACT
Indigenous people number over 300 million. They are inhabitants of
practically each main biome of the earth and especially of the least disturbed
terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems of the world. Based on an exhaustive
review of recently published data, this chapter stresses the strategic
importance of indigenous peoples in the maintenance and conservation of
world's biodiversity. Four main links between biodiversity and indigenous
peoples are examined: the correlation between biological richness and
cultural diversity on both geopolitical and biogeographic terms, the strategic
importance of indigenous peoples in the biomass appropriation; the
remarkable overlap between indigenous territories and world's remaining
areas of high biodiversity; and the importance of indigenous views,
knowledge and practices in biodiversity conservation. The chapter finishes
emphasizing the urgent need for recognizing a new bio-cultural axiom: that
world's biodiversity only will be effectively preserved by preserving
diversity of cultures and viceversa.
* In: Levin, S. el al., (eds.) Encyclopedia of Biodiversity. Academic Press (in press).
I. INTRODUCTION
Biodiversity as a word and concept originated in the field of conservation biology. However, as Alcorn
(1994:11) states "...while proof of conservation success is ultimately biological, conservation itself is a
social and political process, not a biological process. An assessment of conservation requires therefore an
assessment of social and political institutions that contribute to, or threaten, conservation". One of the main
social aspects related to biodiversity is, undoubtedly, the case of the world's indigenous peoples.
Scientific evidence shows that virtually every part of the planet has been inhabited, modified and
manipulated throughout human history. Although they appear untouched, many of the last tracts of
wilderness are inhabited and have been so for millenia. Indigenous peoples live in and have special claims
to territories that, in many cases, harbor exceptionally high levels of biodiversity. On a global basis, human
cultural diversity is associated with the remaining concentrations of biodiversity. Both cultural diversity
and biological diversity are endangered.
Given the above, this chapter offers a review about the multiple importance of indigenous peoples and
makes the point that valuable, local-specific views, knowledge and practices are used by indigenous peoples
who have relied for centuries upon the maintenance of biodiversity. Indigenous peoples are often
classified as impoverished or treated as invisible. However, in the final analysis, they hold the key to
successful biodiversity conservation in most of the biologically richest areas of the world.
II. INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
Indigenous people number over 300 million (Table I). They live in about 75 of the world's 184 countries
and are inhabitants of practically each main biome of the earth. Indigenous peoples, also called tribal,
aboriginal or autochthonous peoples, national minorities or first peoples, are best defined by using
several criteria. Indigenous peoples may have all or part of the following criteria: (a) are the descendants
of the original inhabitants of a territory which has been overcome by conquest; (b) are "ecosystem peoples",
such as shifting or permanent cultivators, herders, hunters and gatherers, fishers and/or handicraft makers,
who adopt a multi-use strategy of appropriation of nature; (c) practice a small-scale, labor-intensive form of
rural production which produce little surplus and has low energy needs; (d) do not have centralized political
institutions, organize their life at the level of community, and make decisions on a consensus basis; (e) share a
common language, religion, moral values, beliefs, clothing and other identifying characteristics as well as a
relationship to a particular territory; (f) have a different world-view, consisting of a custodial and non-
materialist attitude to land and natural resources based on a symbolic interchange with the natural universe;
(g) are subjugated by a dominant culture and society; and (h) consist of individuals who subjectively
consider themselves to be indigenous.
It is possible to find indigenous peoples carrying out many different activities of use and management of
planet's ecosystems: As forest-dwellers in the tropical lowlands or in the mountains, as pastoralists in
savannas and other grasslands, or as nomadic or semi-nomadic hunthers and gatherers in forests, prairies
and deserts.
Fishing is, in addition, the principal economic activity and source of food for several million coastal and
island dwellers, as well as many indigenous peoples inhabiting margins of rivers.
Large numbers of indigenous peoples are, however, peasant producers and therefore can be
indistinguishable from the non-indigenous peoples living nearby. In the Andean and Mesoamerican
countries of Latin America, for instance, indigenous peoples farm like mestizo peasants. Similarly, in India
distinctions between scheduled tribes and non-tribal peoples cannot be made solely on the basis of
productive activities. In these and other many cases non-indigenous peasants and indigenous peoples
produce the same crops with the same farming methods. Since in numberless countries many mestizo
peasants are direct descendants of the indigenous peoples and retain most of their cultural traits, it has
been pointed out that a broader definition of indigenous peoples might increase the real numbers. Thus,
by considering other characteristics than language it is possible to enlarge the number of indigenous
peoples in the contemporary world. Given the above, some authors like J. Burger think that the number of
indigenous people can double the previously estimated. Thus, in the contemporary world there may be
as many as 600 million indigenous peoples. However, such figures need qualification.
Based on percentage of total population identified as belonging to indigenous peoples, it is possible to
recognize a group of selected nations with a strong presence of these peoples: Papua New Guinea
(77%), Bolivia (70), Guatemala (47), Peru (40), Ecuador (38), Mynamar (33), Laos (30), Mexico (12)
and New Zealand (12). On the other hand, the absolute number of people recognized as indigenous allow
to identify nations with high indigenous population such as India (over 100 million) and China (between
60 and 80 million).
III.
BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY AND DIVERSITY OF CULTURES
On a global basis, human cultural diversity is associated with the remaining concentrations of biodiversity.
In fact, evidences exist of remarkable overlaps between global mappings of the world's areas of high
biological richness and areas of high diversity of languages, the single best indicator of a distinct culture.
The above correlation can be certified both on a country by country basis as well as using biogeographic
criteria.
Measured by spoken language, all the world's people belong to between 5,000 to 7,000 cultures. It is
estimated that 4,000 to 5,000 of these are indigenous cultures. Thus, indigenous peoples account for as
much as 80 to 90 percent of the world's cultural diversity. On the basis of the inventories done by linguists,
we can draw up a list of the regions and countries with the greatest degree of cultural diversity in the
world. According to Ethnologue. the best existing catalogue of the world's languages, there is a total of
6,703 languages (mostly oral), 32% of which are found in Asia, 30% in Africa, 19% in the Pacific, 15%
in the Americas and 3% in Europe (Grimes, 1996). Only twelve countries account for 54 per cent of human
languages. These countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Nigeria, India, Australia, Mexico, Cameroon
Brazil, Zaire, Philippines, USA and Vanuatu (Table II).
On the other hand, according to the most recent and detailed analysis about biodiversity on a country
by country basis (Mitermeier & Goettsch-Mittenneier, 1997) there are, similarly, 12 countries which
house the highest numbers of species and endemic species (Table III). This assessment was based on the
comparative analysis of eight main biological groups: mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, freshwater
fishes, butterflies, tiger-beetles and flowering plants. The nations considered as "megadiversity" countries
are: Brazil, Indonesia, Colombia, Australia, Mexico, Madagascar, Peru, China, Philippines, India, Ecuador
and Venezuela (Table III).
Thus, the relationship between cultural diversity and biological diversity stands out in global statistics:
nine of
Fishing is, in addition, the principal economic activity and source of food for several million coastal and
island dwellers, as well as many indigenous peoples inhabiting margins of rivers.
Large numbers of indigenous peoples are, however, peasant producers and therefore can be
indistinguishable from the non-indigenous peoples living nearby. In the Andean and Mesoamerican
countries of Latin America, for instance, indigenous peoples farm like mestizo peasants. Similarly, in India
distinctions between scheduled tribes and non-tribal peoples cannot be made solely on the basis of
productive activities. In these and other many cases non-indigenous peasants and indigenous peoples
produce the same crops with the same farming methods. Since in numberless countries many mestizo
peasants are direct descendants of the indigenous peoples and retain most of their cultural traits, it has
been pointed out that a broader definition of indigenous peoples might increase the real numbers. Thus,
by considering other characteristics than language it is possible to enlarge the number of indigenous
peoples in the contemporary world. Given the above, some authors like J. Burger think that the number
of indigenous people can double the previously estimated. Thus, in the contemporary world there may
be as many as 600 million indigenous peoples. However, such figures need qualification.
Based on percentage of total population identified as belonging to indigenous peoples, it is possible to
recognize a group of selected nations with a strong presence of these peoples: Papua New Guinea
(77%), Bolivia (70), Guatemala (47), Peru (40), Ecuador (38), Mynamar (33), Laos (30), Mexico (12)
and New Zealand (12). On the other hand, the absolute number of people recognized as indigenous allow
to identify nations with high indigenous population such as India (over 100 million) and China (between
60 and 80 million).
m. BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY AND DIVERSITY OF CULTURES
On a global basis, human cultural diversity is associated with the remaining concentrations of
biodiversity.In fact, evidences exist of remarkable overlaps between global mappings of the world's areas
of high biological richness and areas of high diversity of languages, the single best indicator of a distinct
culture. The above correlation can be certified both on a country by country basis as well as using
biogeographic criteria.
Measured by spoken language, all the world's people belong to between 5,000 to 7,000 cultures. It is
estimated that 4,000 to 5,000 of these are indigenous cultures. Thus, indigenous peoples account for as
much as 80 to 90 percent of the world's cultural diversity. On the basis of the inventories done by linguists,
we can draw up a list of the regions and countries with the greatest degree of cultural diversity in the
world. According to Ethnologue. the best existing catalogue of the world's languages, there is a total of
6,703 languages (mostly oral), 32% of which are found in Asia, 30% in Africa, 19% in the Pacific, 15%
in the Americas and 3% in Europe (Grimes, 1996). Only twelve countries account for 54 per cent of human
languages. These countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Nigeria, India, Australia, Mexico, Cameroon
Brazil, Zaire, Philipines, USA and Vanuatu (Table II).
On the other hand, according to the most recent and detailed analysis about biodiversity on a country
by country basis (Mitermeier & Goettsch-Mittermeier, 1997) there are, similarly, 12 countries which
house the highest numbers of species and endemic species (Table III). This assessment was based on the
comparative analysis of eight main biological groups: mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, freshwater
fishes, butterflies, tiger-beetles and flowering plants. The nations considered as "megadiversity" countries
are: Brazil, Indonesia, Colombia, Australia, Mexico, Madagascar, Peru, China, Philippines, India, Ecuador
and Venezuela (Table III).
Thus, the relationship between cultural diversity and biological diversity stands out in global statistics:
nine of
the twelve main centers of cultural diversity (in terms of number of languages) are also in the roster
of biological megadiversity nations and, reciprocally, nine of the countries with the highest species
richness and endemism are also in the list of the 25 nations with the highest number of endemic languages
(Tables II and III).
The links between biological and cultural diversity can also be illustrated by using the data of the called
Global 200, a program of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) developed as a new strategy to identify
conservation priorities based on a ecoregional approach. As part of this program, WWF has identified a list
of 233 terrestrial, freshwater and marine biological ecoregions representative of the Earth's richest
diversity of species and habitats. A preliminary analysis conducted by the People & Conservation Unit
of WWF about the presence of indigenous peoples in the 136 terrestrial ecoregions of Global 200,
revealed interesting patterns. As shown in Table IV, nearly 80% of the terrestrial ecoregions are
inhabited by one or more indigenous peoples and half of the global estimated 3,000 indigenous groups
are inhabitants of these ecoregions. On a geographical region, basis all the regions, excepting the
Palearctic region, maintain 80% or more of their ecoregions inhabited by indigenous people (Table IV).
IV. BIODIVERSITY AND BIOMASS APPROPRIATION: THE ROLE OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
Biodiversity conservation can not be separated from natural resources utilization. Human appropriation
of nature inflows minerals, water, solar energy and principally living beings (biomass) from ecosystems.
World statistics indicate that almost half the inhabitants of the planet are still people engaged in the
appropriation of natural resources. This appropriation is carried out by a myriad of rural or primary
producers through the management of terrestrial, marine and freshwater ecosystems.
Forty five per cent of the total human population has been recorded by the Food and Agricultural
Organization (FAO) as agricultural population (FAO, 1991). It can be estimated that between 60 and 80
percent of this agricultural population is represented by small-scale, solar-energized productive units
based on a multi-use management of nature (Toledo, 1990). In fact, the statistical record shows that by
1990 around 1,200 million rural people were practicing agricultural activities on areas of 5 hectares or
less. This figure coincides with the last available world census of agriculture by the FAO in 1970, where
more than 80% of all reported holdings were smaller than 5 hectares. A similar pattern is found in
world's fisheries where more than 90 percent are small-scale, artesanal operators, acting in a great variety
of coastal habitats.
Most of these small-scale farmers and fishers develop its production activities not as socially isolated
households but as familial nuclei belonging to specific village communities, many of which, in turn,
correspond to cultures that can be considered as indigenous. Morever, within the core of these community-
based producers, those identified as indigenous people are who carry out the biomas's extraction
affecting at the lowest level their local ecosystems. Called "ecosystem people" by some authors such as
R.F. Dassman and M. Gadgil, these producers subsist by appropriating a diversity of biological
resources from their immediate vicinity. Their quality of life is therefore intimately linked to the
maintenance of certain levels of local biodiversity (Gadgil, 1993 and see below). As a consequence, they
are productive actors in little transformed habitats of the world, including the main forest and sea dwellers,
slash and bum agriculturalists, some 25-30 million nomadic herders or pastoralists (in East Africa, Sahel
and Arabian peninsula), most of the 15-21 million world fishers, and all the half a million hunters and
gatherers still recognized as citizens of the contemporary world.
In conclusion, indigenous peoples are the fraction of human appropriators of biomass determining the
lowest ecological impacts. They generally live in what may be termed "frontier lands" or "refuge regions";
thus remote areas of great "wilderness" where the structure, not the components, of original ecosystems
remains more or
less untouched. In many cases these lands and waters are untamed, unknown, unowened and unclaimed.
V. BIODIVERSITY AND INDIGENOUS PEOPLE' S LANDS AND WATERS
Indigenous peoples occupy a substantial share of the world's little disturbed tropical and boreal forests,
mountains, grasslands, tundra and desert, along with large areas of the world's coasts and near-shore
waters (including mangroves and coral reefs) (Durning, 1993). The importance of indigenous territories to
biodiversity conservation is therefore evident.
In fact, indigenous peoples control, legally or not, immense areas of natural resources. Among the most
remarkable examples are the cases of the Inuit people (formerly known as Eskimo) who govern a
region covering one fifth of the territory of Canada (222 million hectares), the indigenous communities of
Papua New Guinea whose lands represent 97 % of the national territory, and the tribes of Australia with
nearly 90 million hectares (Figure 1). Although numbering only above 250,000, the indians of Brazil
possess an area of over 100 million hectares, mainly in the Amazon basin, distributed in 565 territories
(Figure 2 and Table V). Nearly 60% of the priority areas on central and southern Mexico recommended
for protection are also inhabited by indigenous peoples (Figure 3), and half of the 30,000 rural
communities are distributed in the ten most biologically rich states of the Mexican territory. In
summary, on the global scale it is estimated that the total area under indigenous control probably reach
between 12 and 20 percent of the earth's land surface.
The best example of notable overlaps between indigenous peoples and biological rich areas is the case
of tropical humid forests, In fact, there is a clear correspondence between areas of remaining tropical
forests and the presence of indigenous peoples in Latin America, the Congo Basin in Africa, and several
countries of tropical Asia such as Philippines, Indonesia and New Guinea, The strong presence of
indigenous peoples in Brazil, Indonesia and Zaire alone, which accounts for the 60 per cent of all the
tropical forest of the world, is remarkable.
In Latin America, this geographical relationship has been strikingly verified for the Central American
countries by a National Geographic Society map produced by a project headed by Mac Chapin in 1992.
The same pattern can be found in the tropical humid areas of Mexico inhabited by 1.6 million of
indigenous people, and for many regions of the Amazonia basin (see the case of Brazil in Figure 2). It
has been estimated that in Amazonia above 1 million indigenous people of eight countries posses over
135 million hectares of tropical forests (Davis & Wall, 1994).
Many temperate forests of the world also overlap with indigenous territories as for example in India (see
Figure 4), Mynamar, Nepal, Guatemala, the Andean countries (Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia) and Canada.
On the other hand, over two million of islanders of the South Pacific, most of whom are indigenous
peoples, continue fishing and harvesting marine resources in high biodiversity areas (as coral reefs).
VI. BIODIVERSITY AND ETHNOECOLOGY: INDIGENOUS VIEWS, KNOWLEDGE
AND PRACTICES
Biodiversity is a very wide concept that refers to the variety of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genes,
including their different functional processes. Therefore, maintenance and conservation of biodiversity
demand efforts on these four levels. While the first level is oriented to preservation of assemblies of
"ecosystems", the second ones focuses on protection of habitats in which the populations of species live.
At the species level, most knowledge on biodiversity concerns the large plants and animals such as
flowering plants and vertebrates.
The extent of diversity of smaller plants and animals remains to be inventoried and protected.
While most biological diversity is constituted by wild plants and animals, an important subset
involves the diversity among of domesticated organisms. In this fourth level, the interest focuses
on conservation of genetic variation of crops and domesticated animals.
This section is dedicated to examine the potential role of indigenous peoples in biodiversity
conservation from an ethnoecological perspective. Ethnoecology can be defined as an
interdisciplinary approach exploring how nature is seen by human groups through a screen of
beliefs and knowledge, and how humans in terms of their images use and/or manage natural
resources. Thus, by focusing in the kosmos (the belief system or cosmovision), the corpus (the
whole repertory of knowledge or cognitive systems) and the praxis (the set of practices),
ethnoecology offers an integrative approach to the study of the process of human appropriation of
nature (Toledo, 1992). This approach allows to recognize the value of the belief-knowledge-
practice complex of indigenous peoples in relation to the conservation of biodiversity.
Vl.a The Kosmos
For indigenous peoples land and in general nature, has a sacred quality which is almost absent from
Western thinking. Land is revered and respected and its inalienability is reflected in virtually
every indigenous cosmovision. Indigenous people do not consider the land as merely an economic
resource. Under indigenous cosmovisions, nature is the primary source of life that nourishes,
supports and teaches. Nature is, therefore, not only a productive source but the center of the
universe, the core of culture and the origin of ethnic identity. At the heart of this deep bond is the
perception that all living and non-living things and natural and social worlds are intrinsically
linked (reciprocity principle). Of particular interest is the research done by several authors
(Reichel-Dolmatoff, E. Boege, Ph. Descola, C. van der Hammen) on the role played by the
cosmology of several indigenous groups as a mechanism regulating the use and management of
natural resources. In the indigenous cosmovision each act of appropriation of nature must be
negotiated with all the existing things (living and non-living) through different mechanisms as
agrarian rituals and shamanic acts (symbolic exchange). Humans are thus seen as a particular
form of life participating in a wider community of living beings regulated by a single and
totalizing set of rules of conduct.
VI. b The Corpus
Indigenous societies house a repertory of ecological knowledge which generally is local, collective,
diachronic
and holistic. In fact, since indigenous peoples possess a very long history of resource-use practice,
they have
generated cognitive systems on their own circumscribed natural resources which are transmitted
from generation
to generation. The transmission of this knowledge is done through language, hence the corpus is
generally an
unwritten knowledge. Memory is, therefore, the most important intellectual resource among
indigenous
cultures.
This body of knowledge is the expression of a certain personal wisdom and, at the same time, of a
collective creation, it is to say, a historical and cultural synthesis turned into reality in the mind of a
individual producer. For this reason, the corpus contained in a single producer's mind expresses a
repertoire that is a synthesis of information from at least four sources: (a) the experience
accumulated over historical time and transmitted from generation to generation by a certain cultural
group; (b) the experiences socially shared by the members of a same time's generation or cohort; (c)
the experience shared into the household or the domestic group to which the individual belongs; and
(d) the personal experience , particular to each individual, achieved through the repetition of the
annual cycles (natural and productive), enriched by the perceived variations and unpredictable
conditions associated with them.
Thus, indigenous ecological knowledge is normally restricted to the immediate environments and
is an intellectual construction resulting from a process of accumulation of experiences over both the
historical time and the social space. These three main features of indigenous ecological knowledge
(being local, diachronic and collective) are complemented with a fourth characteristic, namely holistic.
Indigenous knowledge is holistic because it is intrincately linked to the practical needs of use and
management of local ecosystems. Although indigenous knowledge is based on observations on a rather
restricted geographic scale, it must provide detailed information on the whole scenery represented by
the concrete landscapes where natural resources are used and managed. As a consequence,
indigenous minds not only possess detailed information about species of plants, animals, fungi and
some microorganisms; they also recognize types of minerals, soils, waters, snows, landforms,
vegetations and landscapes.
Similarly, indigenous knowledge is not restricted to the structural aspects of nature, which are
related to the recognition and classification (ethnotaxonomies) of elements or components of
nature, it also refers to dynamics (which refers to patterns and processes), relational (linked to
relationships between or among natural elements or events) and utilitarian dimensions of natural
resources. As a result, it is possible to integrate a cognitive matrix (Figure 5) which certifies the
holistic character of indigenous knowledge and serves as a methodological framework to
ethnoecological research (Toledo, 1992).
VI.c THE Praxis
Indigenous societies generally subsist by appropriating a diversity of biological resources from their
immediate vicinity. Thus, subsistence of indigenous peoples is based more on ecological exchanges
(with nature) than on economic exchanges (with markets). They are therefore forced to adopt survival
mechanisms that guarantee an uninterrupted flow of goods, materials, and energy from ecosystems.
In this context a predominant use-value economic rationality is adopted, which in practical terms is
represented by a multi-use strategy that maximizes the variety of goods produced in order to provide
basic household requirements throughout the year (for further details on this strategy see Toledo,
1990). This main feature accounts for the relatively high self-sufficiency of indigenous households
and communities.
Indigenous households tend to carry out a non-specialized production based on the principle of
diversity of resources and practices. This mode of subsistence results in the maximum utilization of
all the available landscapes of the surrounding environments, the recycling of materials, energy and
wastes, the diversification of the products obtained from ecosystems and, especially, the integration
of different practices: agriculture, gathering, forest extraction, agroforestry, fishing, hunting, small-
scale cattle-raising, and handicrafts. As a result, indigenous subsistence implies the generation of a
myriad of products including food, domestic and work instruments, housing materials, medicines,
fuelwoods, fibers, animal forage, and others.
Under the multi-use strategy, indigenous producers manipulate the natural landscape in such a way
that two main characteristics are maintained and favored: habitat patchiness and heterogeneity and
biological as well as generical variation. In the spatial dimension, indigenous become a complex
landscape mosaic in which agricultural fields, fallow areas, primary and secondary vegetation,
household gardens, cattle-raising areas, and water bodies are all segments of the entire production
system. This mosaic represents the field upon which indigenous producers, as multi-use strategists,
play the game of subsistence through the manipulation of ecological components and processes
(including forest succession, life cycles, and movement of materials).
It has been demostrated that some natural disturbances can increase biodiversity if they increase
habitat heterogeneity, reduce the influence of competitively dominant species, or create opportunities
for new species
8
to invade the area On the other hand, number of species is commonly relatively small in highly
disturbed biotic communities, because few populations are able to re-establish themselves
before they are reduced by later disturbances. In contrast, a low rate of disturbance provides
few opportunities for pioneer species and might allow competitively dominant species to
usurp limiting resources. Therefore, biodiversity is often greater at intermediate levels of
disturbances than either lower or higher rates.
The creation of landscape mosaics under the indigenous multi-use strategy in areas originally
covered by only one natural community represents a human-originated mechanism which
theoretically tends to maintain (and even increase) biodiversity. Several authors have already
stressed the importance of the models of low intensity mosaic usage of the landscape by
indigenous peoples and other small-landowner populations for biodiversity conservation.
The same diversified arrangement found in indigenous landscapes tends to be reproduced at a
micro-level, with multi-species, multi-story crops or agroforests favored over monocultures.
As a consequence, animal and especially plant genetic resources tend to be maintained in
indigenous agricultural fields, aquaculture systems, homegardens and agroforests (Gadgil, et al
1993). Polycultural systems managed by indigenous agriculturalists and agroforesters are
relatively well known and the recent specialized literature is plenty of case studies
illustrating such designs. Especially notable are the homegardens and agroforestry systems of
the tropical and humid regions of the world, which operate as human-made refuge areas for
many species of plants and animals, notably in areas strongly affected by deforestation.
At farm level, it is broadly recognized that crop populations are more diverse in indigenous
farming systems than in agricultural areas dominated by agroindustriality. Therefore,
indigenous peoples are recognized as key agents of on-farm preservation of plant genetic
resources threatened by agricultural modernization (genetic erosion). The loss of biodiversity
is also experienced in farming systems as indigenous cropping polycultural patterns are
replaced by fossil-fueled monocrops. Indigenous agricultural systems and landscapes are then
acknowledged as designs that preserve not only landraces of crop species, but
semidomesticated and wild crops relatives and even non domesticated species.
VII. CONSERVING BIODIVERSITY BY EMPOWERING INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
During the past three decades, as the loss of landscapes, habitats, species and genes, has
become an issue of international concern, the protected areas of the world have increased
notably both in size and number. However, as protected areas expanded, it became evident
that the North originated model of uninhabited national parks could not be applied
worldwide. Today, there are just nearly 10,000 nationally protected areas (parks and other
reserves) in more than 160 countries, covering some 650 million of hectares, which represents
over 5 percent of earth's land surface. Many of the areas that have been established as protected
areas and many of those that are suitable for future addition to the protected area network are
the homelands of indigenous peoples. In Latin America alone, over 80 per cent of protected
areas are estimated to have indigenous people living within them. On the other hand, large
tracts of the territories under indigenous control, estimated in between 12 and 20 per cent of
the earth's surface, are in the scope of conservationists as future reserves. Morever, some
authors like B. Nietschmann and J. Alcorn (1994) think the bulk of the world's biodiversity is
embodied within the limits of the indigenous territories of the tropical countries.
Given the above, as well as the evidences offered and discussed in the previous sections,
the idea that biodiversity conservation is impossible without the participation of indigenous
communities is increasingly gaining recognition in national and international conservation
circles. For example, in its latest guidelines, IUCN's Commission on National Parks and
Protected Areas (1994) consider that indigenously established
"protected territories" can now be recognized as national parks, wilderness areas, protected
landscapes and managed resource protected areas. On the other hand, the international
conservation community is beginning to realize that sacred forests, mountains, lakes, rivers, and
deserts can be considered protected areas, as well as managed reefs, lagoons, rivers and
grasslands.
Protected areas based on consultation, co-management and even indigenous management, are
likely to be increasingly important in coming years as the key role of indigenous cultures is being
gradually recognized. It is important, however, not to over-idealize indigenous peoples and their
resource management strategies and stewardhip skills. Conservationists have been frequently
criticized for over-romanticize indigenous peoples, creating a late-twentieth-century version of
"the noble savage". Acknowledgment of the positive links between indigenous peoples and
biodiversity has been increasingly tempered by the recognition that under certain circumstances
(high population densities, market pressures, unsuitable technologies, local disorganization)
indigenous peoples can act as disruptive, not as conservationist, actors.
Biological diversity and sustainable development, are today two of the most powerful and
central concepts in environmental protection. In recent years, special attention is being payed to
the sustainable development of community-based peoples, as a key mechanism for the
reinforcement of correct participation of local communities in biodiversity conservation. It is
possible to define sustainable community development as an endogenous mechanism that
allows a local society to lake (or retake) control of the processes that affect it. In other words,
self-determination and local empowerment, conceived as a "taking of control", have to be
the
central objectives in all community development.
Given the demostrated importance of indigenous peoples for biodiversity conservation, it is
essential to recognize the necessity of empowering local communities. That is to maintain,
reinforce or give control to the indigenous communities on their own territories and natural
resources as well as sufficient access to information and technology. Important here are legally
recognized and enforceable rights to lands and waters, which give the communities both an
economic incentive and a legal basis for stewardship. In many countries, national recognition
and policy support for existing, community-based property rights systems are crucial. In
many Asian and African countries, returning a measure of control over public lands and
resources to local communities is also fundamental to slowing biodiversity loss in threatened
regions.
Similarly, it is very important to establish new resource-management partnerships between local
communities and the state and other society institutions to maintain biodiversity. Local
stewardship in conjunction with external governmental and non-governmental agencies and
institutions is perhaps the best way to guarantee effective protection of landscapes, habitats,
species and genes worldwide, and specially in tropical countries.
VIII. CONCLUDING REMARKS: A BIO-CULTURAL AXIOM
The research accumulated in the three last decades by investigators belonging to the fields of
conservation biology, linguistic and anthropology of contemporary cultures, ethnobiology and
ethnoecology, have evolved convergently towards a shared principle: that world's biodiversity
only will be effectively preserved by preserving diversity of cultures and viceversa. This
common statement, which represents a new bio-cultural axiom, has been nourished by four
main sets of evidences: geographical overlap between biological richness and linguistic
diversity and between indigenous territories and biologically high-value regions (actual and
projected protected areas), recognized importance of indigenous peoples as main managers and
dwellers of well-preserved habitats, and certification of a conservationist-oriented behavior
among indigenous peoples derived from its pre-modem belief-knowledge-practices complex.
10
This bio-cultural axiom, called by B. Nietschmann the "concept of symbiotic conservation", in
which "biological and cultural diversity are mutually dependent and geographically coterminous",
constitutes a key principle for conservation theory and applications, and episthemologically is an
expression of the new, integrative, interdisciplinary research gaining recognition in contemporary
science.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Alcom, J. (1993). Indigenous peoples and conservation. Conservation Biology 7: 424-426.(1994).
Noble savage or noble state?: northern myths and southern realities in biodiversity
conservation. Etnoecologica 3: 7-19.
Burger, J. (1987). Report from the Frontier: The State of the World's Indigenous Peoples.
Zed Books. LTD. London.
Davis, S.H. & A. Wali (1994). Indigenous land tenure and tropical forest management in Latin
America. Ambio 23:207-217.
Denslow, J. S. & C. Padoch (Eds) (1988). People of the Tropical Rain Forest. Univ. of
California and Smithsonian Institution. Washington DC.
Durning, A.T. (1993). Suporting indigenous peoples. In: L Brown (Ed.) State of the World 1993:
80-100. World Watch Institute. Washington, DC:
Gadgil, M. (1993). Biodiversity and India s degraded lands. Ambio 22: 167-172
Gadgil, M.., F. Berkes & C. Folke. (1993). Indigenous knowledge for biodiversity conservation.
Ambio 22: 151-156
Grimes, B. (Ed). (1992). Ethnologue: Languages of the World. 12th ed. Summer Institute of
Linguistics,Dallas.
Hale, K. (1992). On endangered languages and the safeguarding of diversity. Language 68: 1-2.
Maffi, L. 1999. Language and the environment. In: D. Posey & G. Dutfield (Eds), Cultural and
Spiritual Values of Biodiversity. UNEP and Cambridge University Press, in press.
Maffi, L. (Ed), (1999). Language, knowledge and the Enviroment: the interdependence of
cultural and biological diversity. Oxford University Press, in press.
Mittermeier R. & C. Goettsch-Mittermeier. (1997). Megadiversity: the biological richest
countries of the world. Conservation International/CEMEX/Sierra Madre. Mexico City.
Oldfield, M. & J. Alcorn (Eds), (1991). Biodiversity: Culture. Conservation and
Ecodevelopment. Westview Press.
Orlove, B.S. & S.B. Brush. (1996). Anthopology and the conservation of biodiversity.
Annu. Rev. Anthropology 25:329-352.
Redford, K. & C. Padoch (Eds). (1992). Conservation of Neotropical Forests: working from
traditional resource use. Columbia University Press.
Stevens, S. (Ed) (1997). Conservation through Cultural Survival: indigenous peoples and
protected areas. Island Press, Washigton DC.
Toledo, V.M. (1990). The ecological rationality of peasant production. In: M. Altieri & S.
Hecht (Eds). Agroecology and Small-Farm Development. CRC Press Boca Raton, Florida: 51-58
Toledo, V.M. (1992). What is ethnoecology?: origins, scope and implications of a rising
discipline. Etnoecologica 1: 5-21
FIGURE LEGENDS
1. Terrestrial and marine protected areas with significant involvement or interest of indigenous
peoples in Australia. Source: Elaborated upon data from the Australian Federal Government.
11
2. Geographical location of indigenous territories in Brazil, according to their legal situation and
size area. Not e the large tracts of areas under indigenous control in the Amazonian region, the
core of Brazilian biological ichness. Source: Adapted from the map of Terras Indigenas do Brasil.
Instituto Socioambiental, San Paulo, Brasil..
3. Geographical location of priority areas recommended by the Comision Nacional para el Estudio
y Uso de la bodiversidad (CONABIO) of Mexico, overlapping with territories of indigenous
communities. Note the highnumber of overlapping areas in the central and southern portion of
Mexico, where most of the biologicalrichness of the country is concentrated. Source: Modified
from CONABIO's Map on priority areas forconservation, 1996.
4. Geographical location of the main 20 indigenous groups (A) and principal forestry areas (B) of
India. Although the long history of migrations of peoples makes difficult to distinguish indigenous
peoples in India, there are about 100 million people considered by the government as "scheduled
tribes" speaking over 300 languages. These groups are generally residents of remote hilly or
forested areas. Source: Modified from The State of India's Environment 1984-85.
5. Matrix of indigenous ecological knowledge. See text.
TABLE 1 Estimated numbers of the world's
indigenous peoples.
Region Number of cultural
groups
Population
North America 250 3,500,000
Latin America an the Caribbean 800 43,000,000
Former Soviet Union 135 40,000,000
China and Japan 100 67,000,000
The Pacific 1,273 2,000,000
Southeast Asia
South Asia 900
700
30,000,000
100,000,000
Australia and New Zealand 250 550,000
Africa 2,010 50,000,000
Total 6,418 336,050,000
Sources: Burger, 1987; Hitchcok, 1994; Thakur & Thakur, 1994.
TABLE II
Top 25 countries by number of endemic languages.
1. * Papua New Guinea (847)
2. * Indonesia (655)
3. Nigeria (376)
4. * India (309)
5. * Australia (261)
6. * Mexico (230)
7. Cameroon (201)
8.* Brazil (185)
9.* Zaire (158)
10. * Philippines (153)
11.* USA (143)
12. Vanuatu (105)
13. Tanzania (101)
14. Sudan (97)
15. * Malaysia (92)
16. Ethiopia (90)
17. * China (77)
18. * Peru (75)
19. Chad (74)
20. Russia (71)
21. Solomon Islands (69)
22. Nepal (68)
23. * Colombia (55)
24. C6ted'Ivoire(51)
25. Canada (47)
Considered "megadiversity" countries by Mittermeier & Goettsch-Mittermeier, 1997.
TABLE III
Top 12 countries by number of species (richness) an endemic
(endemism)ª.
Biological diversity
* Brazil Richness
1
Endemism
2
Both
1
* Indonesia 3 1 2
* Colombia 2 5 3
* Australia 7 3 4
* Mexico 5 7 5
Madagascar 12 4 6
*Peru 4 9 7
* China 6 11 8
* Philippines 14 6 9
* India 9 8 10
Ecuador 8 14 11
Venezuela 10 15 12
* Countries included in the list of the 25 nations with the highest number of endemic languages. a Calculated
for the following biological groups: mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, freshwater fishes, butterflies,
tiger-beetles and flowering plants (Source: Mittermeier & Goettsch-Mittermeier, 1997).
TABLE IV
Indigenous peoples (IP) in Global 200 terrestrial ecoregions considered a priority areas by World Wildlife Fund
for Nature.
Region Ecoregions Ecoregion with IP % Total IP in ecoregions Number of IP in
ecoregions
%
World 136 108 79 3000 1445 48
Africa 32 25 78 983 414 42
Neotropic 31 25 81 470 230 51
Nearctic 10 9 90 147 127 86
Asia and Pacific (Indo- 24 21 88 298 225 76
Malayan)
Oceania 3 3 100 23 3 13
Palearctic 21 13 62 374 111 30
Australasia 15 12 80 515 335 65
Source: WWF International, People and Conservation Unit, Unpublished Report, August, 1998.
TABLE V Legal
situation of indigenous territory in Brazil (November, 1997).
Legal situation a No. of indigenous areas Area (ha) %
Not identified 74 2,749,000 2.60
To be identified 96 4,983,578 4.92
Interdicted 5 8,897,066 8.88
Identified 12 1,998,117 1.97
Delimited 67 19.963,673 19.86
Demarcated and
confirmated
73 14,816,728 14.77
Regularizated 238 47,093,429 47.00
Total 565 100,501,591 100.00
ª According to the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI).
1. Siena de Juarez
2. Delta del Rio
Colorado-Alto
3. Santa Maria- El
Descanso
4. Isla Tiburón-Sierra Sen
5. Cajón del Diablo
6. Siena Libre
7. Basaseachic
8. Yécora-El Reparto
9. Montes Azules
10. Barrancas del Cobre
11. Cañón de Chinipas
12. Las Bocas
13. Guadalupe, Calvo y
Mohinora14. Guacamayita
15. Sierra de Jesus
16. Sierra Fría
17. Llanura del Rio Verde
18. Sierra de Abra-Tanchipa
19. Manantlan
20. Tancitaro
21. Sierra de Chincua
22. Tlanchinol
23. Huayacocotla
24. Cuetzalan
25. San Javier Tepoca
26. Sur del Valle de Mexico
27. Sierra Madre del Sur de Guerrero
28. Perote-Orizaba
29. Sierra de los Tuxtlas
30. Tehuacan-Cuicatlan
31.Cañon del Zopilote
32. Siena Granizo
33. Sierra de Tidaa 34. Sierra Trique
35. Sierra Norte de Oaxaca
36. Chacahua-Manialtepec
37. Zimatlan
38. Siena Sur y Costa de Oaxaca
39. Siena Mixe-La Ventosa
40. Selva de Chimalapas
41. Sepultura-Tres Picos-El Baúl
42. El Suspiro-Buenavista-Berriozabal
43. Lagunas Catazaja-Emiliano Zapata
44. Triunfo-Encrucijada-Palo Blanco
45. Tacaná-Boquerón-Mozotal
46. Selva Chicomuselo-Motozintla
47. Lacandona
48. El Mom6n-Margaritas-Montebello
49. Huitepec-Tzontehuitz
50. El Manzanillal
51. Altos de Chiapas
52. Rio Hondo
53. Silvituc-Calakmul
54. Zona de Punto Puuc
44
55. Zonas
Forestales
Quintana Roo
56. Sian
Ka'an-Uaymil
57. IslaContoy
58. Dzilam-Ria
Lagartos-Yum Balam
59.Petenes-Ria
Celestim
53
33
36
Regularizated
Delimited
In identification process *
To be identified
Identified
Areas of less than
10,000 ha
Jardine River NP
Iron Range NP
Forbes Islands NP
Archer Bend NP
Rokeby
-Croll NP
Flinders Island
Group NP
Clack Islands
Cliff Islands
9. Lakefield NP
10. Starcke NP
11. Cape Melville NP
12. Mitchell and Alice
Rivers NP
13.Mt.WebbNP
14. Cedar Bay
15. Mossman Gorge NP
16. Great Barrier Reef MP
17. Fraser Island NP
18. Carnarvon Gorge NP
19. Mt. YarrowychNP
20. Jervis Bay NR
21.Lake Mungo NP
22. Coorong NP
23. Mt. GrenfellHS
24. Mootwingee NP
25. Gammon Ranges NP
26. Simpson Desert NP
27. Witjara NP
28. Yumbarra CA
29. NullarborNP
30. Unnamed CP
31.Watarraka NP
32. Uluru-Kata Tjuta NP
33.NitmilukNP
34. Kakadu NP
35. Gurig NP
36. Purnululu NP
37. Proposed Buccaneer
Archipelago MP
38. Karlamilyi NP
39. Rudall River NP
40. Karijini NP
35
NP = National Park
NR= Nature Reserve
MP= Marine Park
CP= Conservation Park
CA= Conservation Area
HS= Historic Site
Structural Astronomical Physical Biological Ecogeographical
Athmosphere
Lithosphere Hydrosphere
Types of astros
and
constellations
Climate
Winds
Cloud
Snows
Rocks Soils
Landforms Types of waters
Plants Animals
Fungi
Microorganisms
Vegetation and
other landscape
units
Relational Several Several Several Several Several Several
Dynamic
Solar and lunar
cycles, movements
of constellations
and stars
Climatic
events Soil erosion
Water flows
Water tables
Life cycles
Nesting seasons
etc.
Ecological
succession
Utilitarian
Several Several Several Several Several Management
units
l. Kolis
2. Bhils
3. Gonds
4. Oraons
5. Santhals
6. Mundas
7. Hos
8. Juangs
9. Khonds
10.
Savaras
11. Gadabas
12. Chenchus
13. Sholegas
14. Toda Kotas
15. Kadras
16. Irula Kurumbas
17. Garos
18. Daflas
19. Khasis
20. Nagas
Forestry areas
20
15
... A través del tiempo, los campesinos han desarrollado sistemas de producción adaptados a las condiciones ambientales en que producen, las necesidades de consumo familiar, las especies locales e insumos de que disponen (Cervantes-Herrera et al., 2015). Algunos autores afirman que los grupos indígenas poseen una matriz cognitiva de conocimiento, creencias y prácticas que dan fe de su naturaleza holística y son parte de su memoria biocultural (Toledo, 2013, Berkes, 2017. A esa matriz cognitiva se le agregan constantemente nuevos conocimientos externos o técnicas probadas con el fin de mejorar el manejo de sus sistemas productivos. ...
... Sin embargo, no todas las production systems adapted to the environmental conditions where they produce, the needs for family consumption, the local species and the inputs that are available (Cervantes-Herrera et al., 2015). Some authors affirm that indigenous groups have a cognitive matrix of knowledge, beliefs and practices that attest to their holistic nature and are part of their biocultural memory (Toledo, 2013, Berkes, 2017. There are new external knowledge or proven techniques that are added to this cognitive matrix, with the aim of improving the management of their productive systems. ...
... Los tres principales elementos esenciales, usados en la agricultura, son nitrógeno (N), fósforo (P) y potasio (K), conocidos en combinación como N-P-K. Toledo (2013) indica que los campesinos indígenas usan solo una pequeña fracción de fertilizantes comerciales y producen impactos ecológicos bajos. En México, se sabe poco sobre las dosis y las fuentes utilizadas en los sistemas agrícolas indígenas. ...
Article
Full-text available
RESUMEN La fertilización es un factor determinante en el rendimiento del maíz (Zea mays L.). Sin embargo, el conocimiento indígena de este proceso es poco documentado para su revaloración. El objetivo fue analizar los factores involucrados en la fertilización campesina del maíz. Se realizaron entrevistas estructuradas, observación participa-tiva y un cuestionario a 103 campesinos de tres comunidades ma-zahuas: San Juan Coajomulco, Fresno Nichi y San Pedro el Alto, Estado de México, en el año 2015. Se hizo análisis multivariable. El índice de fidelidad, fuentes, dosis y costos de fertilización fueron calculados. El rendimiento del grano estimado se comparó con la referencia regional. El índice de fidelidad mostró que la altura de la planta, la floración femenina y el color de las hojas determinan el momento de la fertilización. Los análisis multivariables mostraron que la similitud entre la fertilización campesina también se debe a la comunidad de origen, ocupación, superficie cultivada y can-tidad de fósforo aplicada. Los campesinos combinan fertilizantes minerales con estiércol; el costo promedio anual fue $4043 MX por hectárea. El rendimiento del grano en dos de las comunidades fue mayor que el reportado localmente. Los campesinos practican el diálogo de saberes al incorporar la tecnología sin dejar atrás su conocimiento tradicional. Palabras clave: conocimiento tradicional, diálogo de saberes, tecnología. INTRODUCCIÓN L os grupos originarios en México producen ali-mentos básicos en superficies pequeñas, usan-do técnicas intensivas en conocimiento, que a menudo se transmiten a través de la familia, y en gran ABSTRACT Fertilization is a defining factor in maize (Zea mays L.) yield. However, indigenous knowledge about this process is scarcely documented for its revaluation. The objective was to analyze the factors involved in peasant fertilization of maize. Structured interviews, participative observation, and a questionnaire were carried out with 103 farmers from three Mazahua communities: San Juan Coajomulco, Fresno Nichi and San Pedro el Alto, in Estado de México, during the year 2015. A multivariable analysis was conducted. The index of fidelity, sources, doses, and costs of fertilization were calculated. The grain yield estimated was compared to the regional reference. The fidelity index showed that plant height, female flowering, and leaf color determine the moment of fertilization. The multivariable analyses showed that the similarity between farmer fertilization is also due to the community of origin, occupation, cultivated surface, and amount of phosphorus applied. Farmers combine mineral fertilizers with manure; the average annual cost was $4043 MX per hectare. The grain yield in two of the communities was higher than the one reported locally. Farmers practice dialogue of knowledges when incorporating technology without leaving behind their traditional knowledge.
... Indigenous peoples, also called tribal, aboriginal, autochthonous peoples, national minorities, or first peoples, are best defined by using several criteria. Indigenous peoples can be characterized by all or part of the following criteria: (a) they are the descendants of the original inhabitants of a territory, which has been overcome by conquest; (b) they are "ecosystem peoples," such as shifting or permanent cultivators, herders, hunters and gatherers, fishers, and/or handicraft makers, who adopt a multi-use strategy of appropriation of nature; (c) they practice a small-scale, labor-intensive form of rural production, which produce little surplus and has low energy needs; (d) they do not have centralized political institutions, organize their life at the level of community, and make decisions on a consensual basis; (e) they share a common language, religion, moral values, beliefs, clothing, and other identifying characteristics, as well as a relationship to a particular territory; (f) they have a different world-view, consisting of a custodial and non-materialistic attitude to land and natural resources, based on a symbolic interchange with the natural universe; (g) they are subjugated by a dominant culture and society; and (h) they consist of individuals who subjectively consider themselves to be indigenous (Toledo, 1999). ...
... Both cultural diversity and biological diversity are endangered. There exists a biocultural axiom: that the world's biodiversity only will be preserved effectively by preserving diversity of cultures and vice versa (Toledo, 1999). Scientific evidence shows -Villela and García-Vázquez, 2014;Parra-Olea et al., 2014;Mata-Silva et al., 2021;Johnson et al., 2015;Johnson et al., 2017;Navarro-Sigüenza et al., 2014;Blázquez-Olaciregui, 2016;Sánchez-Cordero et al., 2014;Briones-Salas et al., 2015;Woolrich-Piña et al., 2017;Palacios-Aguilar and Flores-Villela, 2018;Torres-Hernández et al., 2021). ...
... Indigenous peoples live in and have special claims to territories that, in many cases, harbor exceptionally high levels of biodiversity. On a global basis, human cultural diversity is associated with the remaining concentrations of biodiversity (Toledo, 1999). ...
Article
Full-text available
Oaxaca es el estado de México con mayor diversidad biológica y cultural. Los pueblos originarios de Oaxaca son todos descendientes, total o parcialmente, de la antigua cultura madre Olmeca también conocida como “Pueblo del Jaguar”. Estos pueblos originarios actualmente están tratando de defender sus territorios y bienes naturales comunes de la explotación por parte de los gobiernos y las grandes empresas multinacionales. Oaxaca es el quinto estado más grande de México y comprende 12 regiones fisiográficas y 16 grupos etnolingüísticos originarios. La alta diversidad cultural que se observa en Oaxaca está interrelacionada con la considerable diversidad biológica y ambiental y debe entenderse que la protección de una depende de la protección de la otra. El conocimiento de la biodiversidad de Oaxaca continúa aumentando, especialmente entre los vertebrados tetrápodos. La diversidad cultural en Oaxaca, especialmente con respecto a los idiomas, es la más diversa en todo México. En varias comunidades, ejidos y con pequeños propietarios existe un sistema de Áreas Comunitarias de Conservación, que permiten la protección de diversas especies no incluidas dentro de las ANPs federales, así como cuerpos de agua y los bosques dentro del estado. Estas ACC son parte de un movimiento de resistencia contra la participación en el sistema formal de ANP por decreto. Los pueblos indígenas de Oaxaca son parte de una comunidad global de personas que se sabe que son responsables de la protección de alrededor del 80% de la biodiversidad remanente del mundo. Los propios esfuerzos del gobierno mexicano por la conservación se remontan a la administración del presidente Lázaro Cárdenas de Río. Los intentos de manejo forestal comunitario de los pueblos indígenas de todo el mundo han sido apoyados o no por los gobiernos federales. Los pueblos indígenas de la Sierra Madre de Oaxaca están utilizando el ecoturismo de bajo impacto como un medio adicional para conservar sus tierras y para apoyar estilos de vida sostenibles, al tiempo que se resisten a los esfuerzos de explotación de los grupos no indígenas de la sociedad. El Corredor Interoceánico constituye la amenaza más significativa para los esfuerzos de estos grupos indígenas, así como otras actividades comerciales a gran escala realizadas por grandes consorcios industriales suscritos por sus aliados políticos en el gobierno federal, cuestionando por qué las ANPs que existen realmente a qué personas se suponen un beneficio. A la luz de esta realidad, hemos realizado una serie de recomendaciones para el alivio de estos problemas a los pueblos originarios que permitan continuar con sus esfuerzos de preservación de la biodiversidad nativa y su propia diversidad cultural
... A través del tiempo, los campesinos han desarrollado sistemas de producción adaptados a las condiciones ambientales en que producen, las necesidades de consumo familiar, las especies locales e insumos de que disponen (Cervantes-Herrera et al., 2015). Algunos autores afirman que los grupos indígenas poseen una matriz cognitiva de conocimiento, creencias y prácticas que dan fe de su naturaleza holística y son parte de su memoria biocultural (Toledo, 2013, Berkes, 2017. A esa matriz cognitiva se le agregan constantemente nuevos conocimientos externos o técnicas probadas con el fin de mejorar el manejo de sus sistemas productivos. ...
... Sin embargo, no todas las production systems adapted to the environmental conditions where they produce, the needs for family consumption, the local species and the inputs that are available (Cervantes-Herrera et al., 2015). Some authors affirm that indigenous groups have a cognitive matrix of knowledge, beliefs and practices that attest to their holistic nature and are part of their biocultural memory (Toledo, 2013, Berkes, 2017. There are new external knowledge or proven techniques that are added to this cognitive matrix, with the aim of improving the management of their productive systems. ...
... Los tres principales elementos esenciales, usados en la agricultura, son nitrógeno (N), fósforo (P) y potasio (K), conocidos en combinación como N-P-K. Toledo (2013) indica que los campesinos indígenas usan solo una pequeña fracción de fertilizantes comerciales y producen impactos ecológicos bajos. En México, se sabe poco sobre las dosis y las fuentes utilizadas en los sistemas agrícolas indígenas. ...
Article
Full-text available
Fertilization is a defining factor in maize (Zea mays L.) yield. However, indigenous knowledge about this process is scarcely documented for its revaluation. The objective was to analyze the factors involved in peasant fertilization of maize. Structured interviews, participative observation, and a questionnaire were carried out with 103 farmers from three Mazahua communities: San Juan Coajomulco, Fresno Nichi and San Pedro el Alto, in Estado de México, during the year 2015. A multivariable analysis was conducted. The index of fidelity, sources, doses, and costs of fertilization were calculated. The grain yield estimated was compared to the regional reference. The fidelity index showed that plant height, female flowering, and leaf color determine the moment of fertilization. The multivariable analyses showed that the similarity between farmer fertilization is also due to the community of origin, occupation, cultivated surface, and amount of phosphorus applied. Farmers combine mineral fertilizers with manure; the average annual cost was $4043 MX per hectare. The grain yield in two of the communities was higher than the one reported locally. Farmers practice dialogue of knowledges when incorporating technology without leaving behind their traditional knowledge.
... In Chimalapas, indigenous people using community-based rules for forest management and conservation conflict with recent immigrants fomenting cattle rising (Payne, 2002). These examples stress the importance of the biocultural heritage for biodiversity conservation (Toledo, 2001). ...
Article
Full-text available
Three upheavals shaped southern Mexico to Panama (SMP) biodiversity: 1. The Great American Interchange that allowed migrations between the Neotropical and the Nearctic biogeographic realms; 2. human colonization with the generation of Mesoamerican cultures; and 3. the Spaniards’ arrival and globalization. Tectonic events generated a narrow piece of land with steep topography and high environmental heterogeneity, demanding high levels of local adaptation. Habitat size is usually restricted and reduced by frequent disturbances. Topography imposes few options for individuals forced to displace. Thus, extinction risks should be unusually high. Humans initiated an ongoing defaunation process and introduced the maize and the milpa, an itinerant maize-based slash-and-burn polyculture, which depends on revegetation to re-establish soil fertility. Also, the milpa is a most important pre-Hispanic legacy, a biocultural and landrace reservoir actively affecting landscape configuration, succession, soil development, and the genetic architecture of the species. Unprecedented human epidemics and soil, biodiversity, and culture erosion followed behind the Spanish aftermath and the subsequent globalization. > 63 million people and ≈100 ethnic groups inhabit SMP in 2020, which, with the biota, share the same problems of climate change, disturbance, and acculturation. SMP has been the scenario of severe climate change, fastest and deadliest extinction events (amphibians), a most spectacular exotic-species invasion (Africanized honeybees), and accelerated deforestation, defaunation, and acculturation. Biocultural conflicts between native and non-native people are globalization byproducts and sources of habitat destruction and species decline. Bottom-up initiatives are likely the best option for conservation in indigenous areas, whereas honest (i.e., with truly conservation intentions) top-down initiatives are helpful if the affected people are considered subjects (no objects) of conservation plans. We suggest some unique areas requiring conservation attention and analyzed current conservation initiatives. Not a single initiative is best suited for all conservation needs in SMP. Protection of all successional stages is critical for resilience and revegetation. Conservation of the milpa system (crop fields and subsequent fallows) is an optimal option for minimizing tradeoffs between conservation and people needs and safeguarding traditional culture and local landraces but is limited to areas with indigenous people and may not work for species with large home ranges.
... 'Povos e comunidades tradicionais' são caracterizados de acordo com alguns critérios: se reconhecerem como tal; compartilharem indicadores de identificação (língua, religião, crenças, hábitos, vestimentas, costumes, entre outros); realizarem produção rural em pequena escala, baixos consumo e excedente de energia e com trabalho intensivo; serem dependentes de uma sociedade e cultura hegemônicas; estarem inseridos em ecossistemas, utilizando a natureza de diferentes formas (agricultores, pescadores, extrativistas, artesãos, por exemplo); estabelecerem uma relação estreita com seu território; entre outros (TOLEDO, 2013). ...
Article
Full-text available
As comunidades tradicionais são grupos com identidade própria e organização social distinta, que utilizam territórios e recursos naturais para manter sua cultura e sua existência. O objetivo desta pesquisa é caracterizar recursos naturais existentes na comunidade quilombola de Furnas dos Baianos, sob a perspectiva dos moradores. A metodologia utilizada combinou formulário (relação recursos naturais/modo de vida/conhecimento tradicional dos moradores) e entrevista (memórias dos moradores/paisagem natural). Um integrante de cada família foi convidado a participar e as 14 famílias que formam a comunidade foram representadas. Assim, fez-se um registro de características da paisagem natural à época da formação da comunidade e situou-se a discussão no uso atual dos recursos naturais relacionados à cultura tradicional e ao saber fazer dos moradores; e se há e quais as formas de exploração econômica destes recursos. As atividades desenvolvidas nas propriedades são de subsistência, relacionadas à cultura tradicional da comunidade, com uso do solo e do córrego das Antas. O turismo foi apontado como possibilidade de atividade econômica sustentável.
... IEK has been defined as a holistic system for understanding the world, embedded in the cultural practices of a group and borne from a long-standing interaction between people and their environment (Toledo, 2001). Berkes et al. (2000) identify some key components: IEK is usually cumulative, encompasses "knowledge, practice, and belief", evolves and adapts over time, is passed from one generation to another, and shows attention to both human-human and human-nonhuman relations (p. ...
Article
Full-text available
Studies of Indigenous environmental knowledge (IEK) provide valuable information helpful for resource management, yet there remain gaps for many countries. This paper reviews the literature on IEK in Vietnam across key areas, including ethnobiological studies, customary law, applied agricultural research, and management of natural resources for a range of Indigenous communities. Despite increasing attention by researchers, and a growing body of evidence on IEK, there remain considerable gaps in content in Vietnam compared with global IEK literature, and the paper suggests a framework for assessing these differences. Overall, the review suggests that there is little integration of IEK into policy, scientific assessments, or management in Vietnam due to numerous barriers to IEK in both research and policy, ranging from methodological limitations to political sensitivities. The article concludes with suggestions to improve engagement with and application of IEK in the future in Vietnam and elsewhere.
... By focusing on the kosmos (the belief system or cosmovision-K), the corpus (the whole repertory of knowledge or cognitive systems-C), and the praxis (the set of practices-P), ethnoecology offers an integrative approach to the study of the process of human appropriation of nature. This approach allows recognition of the value of the belief-knowledge-practice or the "K-C-P complex" of traditional peoples (Figure 1) in relation to aspects as the conservation of biodiversity (Toledo, 2013) or socioenvironmental resilience. Although throughout the world there are at least six schools or streams of ethnoecology (in France, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, and the United States) and as a whole have produced more than 500 publications between 1954 and 2011 (Toledo and Alarcón-Cháires 2012), the truth is that the real character of the traditional forms of knowledge has hardly been elaborated theoretically. ...
Article
Full-text available
Agroecologists mainly work with producers from traditional cultures. Ethno-ecological studies conducted in recent decades, clearly demonstrate that the experience these cultures have accumulated can be defined as wisdom, formed as a complex integrating a set of beliefs that lead to a worldview (an ontological dimension), a repertoire of knowledge (an epistemological dimension), and a series of practices (a productive dimension). So far, agroecology has addressed two of these three dimensions interacting with traditional producers (the epistemological and productive dimensions) and, with few exceptions, has neglected the ontological dimension. This paper sets forth the thesis that the ontological perspective leads to spirituality, a theme that has been excluded. Recognizing and integrating spirituality into agroecological practice would reinforce agroecology as a socially and environmentally liberating activity, since it embraces key concepts such as Mother Earth and Harmonious Living (buen vivir, the indigenous principle of harmonizing with the whole of nature).
Chapter
As the editor of this volume, in this final chapter I start with a reflection on the key lessons drawn from the previous 15 case studies from various countries and regions, with a focus on highlighting some common themes that have emerged across the chapters. Next, I offer some additional reflections on the profound value and use of “responsibility-based” IK systems. I then discuss why it is essential for policymakers and academics and scientists to ally with Indigenous Peoples by looking to decolonize mainstream (reductionist) water management approaches, and to effectively initiate a collective process of moving beyond “linear” water and land governance models. Following this discussion, I share with the reader some Wendat meanings and understandings of the sacred gift of water and its cultural significance for my People (and our neighboring Indigenous Nations) in our ancestral homeland in southern Ontario—our cherished Wendake, our Eatenonha (see Sioui, 2019). Finally, I offer a concluding statement in which I share my perspective on promising future outlooks for the resurgence of Indigenous water governance and the growing global Indigenous movement to reassert themselves as the rightful stewards and protectors of their waters and territories.
Chapter
Indigenous knowledge, practices, techniques, and skills have many benefits to mankind and the environment. Indigenous knowledge is knowledge held by indigenes of a particular local community or rural area. Given the necessary attention, this knowledge could potentially enhance ecosystem processes as well as population health. In spite of this, indigenous knowledge is gradually being replaced with foreign ones, which brings about cultural erosion. This chapter aims to illuminate the importance of indigenous knowledge and practices for achieving sustainable development. To achieve the objective of this chapter, a systematic review was carried out to collate and discuss various applications of indigenous knowledge and practices for human development. Research studies included in the systematic review for this chapter were from reputable databases such as Google Scholar, PubMed, Science Direct, and Web of Science. A total of 1470 research studies were downloaded, but only 51 research papers were in accordance with the selection criteria following the PRISMA) framework. The review was guided by article title, abstract, and keywords. The results showed that indigenous knowledge was the panacea to sustainable development, especially for the developing world. Indigenous knowledge benefits everyone and enhances food security as well as environmental quality. The integration of indigenous knowledge in development plans, policies, and programmes is recommended for the envisaged sustainable world.
Chapter
Full-text available
Over recent decades, Indigenous knowledge (IK) systems, people, and territories have increasingly been recognized in mainstream conservation practice. However, recognition of the value of IK by governing bodies varies and is often a result of colonial and “development” history and the strength of hegemonic attitudes. Through regional case studies, this chapter explores the progress and challenges of integrating IK in conservation action which is key to narrowing the knowledge-implementation gap in this discipline. Key enabling factors allow IK integration into conservation action at national levels including: recognition of Indigenous land ownership; development and acceptance of cross-cultural or Indigenous methods; devolution of power to include Indigenous People in decision-making processes; acknowledgment of Indigenous groups and their rights; and acknowledgment of the benefits of using IK in biodiversity conservation. The regional case studies presented in this chapter suggest that the recognition of IK systems in conservation programs is greatly facilitated by adopting three pillars of Indigenous empowerment (Indigenous land ownership, acknowledgment of Indigenous peoples and their rights, and acknowledgment of the value of Indigenous knowledge systems) with concomitant benefit to narrow the knowledge-implementation gap in conservation science.
Article
Full-text available
Indigenous peoples have received much attention as potential resource managers of threatened tropical forest ecosystems. Using data from Latin America, this article argues that fundamental changes need to take place in the legal recognition and demarcation of indigenous territories in order for this potential to be fulfilled. A comparison is made between different national land-tenure models for forest-dwelling indigenous peoples and a new model proposed by Latin American indigenous organizations. This comparison suggests that not only do indigenous peoples need to be provided with some degree of control over their territories and resources. but there needs to be a new type of partnership among indigenous peoples, the scientific community, national governments and international development agencies for the management of tropical forests.
Article
Full-text available
In Mexico, coffee is cultivated on the coastal slopes of the central and southern parts of the country in areas where two or more types of vegetation make contact. Based on management level and vegetational and structural complexity, it is possible to distinguish five main coffee production systems in Mexico: two kinds of traditional shaded agroforests (with native trees), one commercially oriented polyspecific shaded system, and two “modern” systems (shaded and unshaded monocultures). Traditional shaded coffee is cultivated principally by small-scale, community-based growers, most of whom belong to some indigenous culture group. Through an exhaustive review of the literature, we found that traditional shaded coffee plantations are important repositories of biological richness for groups such as trees and epiphytes, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and arthropods. We evaluated the conservation role of these traditional shaded systems by estimating the percentage of the whole coffee area under traditional management, by reviewing the ecological and geographical distribution of coffee areas in Mexico, and by connecting the geographical distribution of these coffee areas with recognized centers of species richness and endemism. The assesment revealed that in Mexico, coffee fields are located in a biogeographically and ecologically strategic elevational belt that is an area of overlap between the tropical and temperate elements and of contact among the four main types of Mexican forests. We also found that between 60% and 70% of these coffee areas are under traditional management and that at least 14 of 155 priority regions selected by experts as having high numbers of species and endemics overlap with or are near traditional coffee-growing areas.
Article
Full-text available
For more than a century the establishment of national parks and protected areas was a major threat to the survival of indigenous people. The creation of parks based on wilderness ideals outlawed traditional ways of life and forced from their homelands peoples who had shaped and preserved local ecosystems for centuries.Today such tragic conflicts are being superseded by new alliances for conservation. Conservation Through Cultural Survival assesses cutting-edge efforts to establish new kinds of parks and protected areas which are based on partnerships with indigenous peoples. It chronicles new conservation thinking and the establishment around the world of indigenously inhabited protected areas, provides detailed case studies of the most important types of co-managed and indigenously managed areas, and offers guidelines, models, and recommendations for international action. The book: discusses the goals and development of the global protected area system assesses the strengths and limitations of a range of different types of indigenously inhabited protected areas discusses key issues and indigenous peoples' concerns recommends measures to promote conservation suggests international actions that would promote co-managed and indigenously managed areas Contributors who have been actively involved in projects around the world provide in-depth accounts from Nepal, Australia, New Guinea, Nicaragua, Honduras, Canada, and Alaska of some of the most promising efforts to develop protected areas where indigenous peoples maintain their rights to settlement and subsistence and participate in management.Conservation Through Cultural Survival will be required reading for environmentalists, protected area planners and managers, and all who care about the future of indigenous peoples and their homelands.
Article
The world's languages in crisis by Michael Krauss. Local reactions to perceived language decline by Lucille J. Watahomigie and Akira Y. Yamamoto. A constitutional response to language endangerment:: The case of Nicaragua by Colette Craig. An institutional response to language endangerment:: A proposal for a Native American Language Center by LaVerne Masayesva Jeanne. Doing Mayan linguistics in Guatemala by Nora C. England. Language endangerment and the human value of linguistic diversity by Ken Hale. † [Editor's note: In November 1989, as an outgrowth of discussions with Colette Craig and Ken Hale, I asked them as well as LaVerne Masayesva Jeanne and Nora England to consider writing brief essays on the topic of 'responsible linguistics' for publication in Language. Since this theme is closely related to the topic of the 1991 LSA Endangered Languages symposium organized by Hale, other speakers at the symposium were also invited to contribute to the collection presented here—namely, Michael Krauss and Lucille Watahomigie & Akira Yamamoto. The message of these essays is urgent and vital; I urge all linguists to study them carefully. Ken Hale collected and edited the entire set of essays, and he deserves the profession's gratitude for carrying out this project.] * I wish to express my gratitude to my co-authors for their contributions to this collection and to the field; to Marilyn Goodrich for her help in preparing the manuscript; and, especially, to the many speakers of endangered languages with whom I have worked.
Megadiversity: the biological richest countries of the world
  • bullet Mittermeier
  • R C Goettsch-Mittermeier
@BULLET Mittermeier R. & C. Goettsch-Mittermeier. (1997). Megadiversity: the biological richest countries of the world. Conservation International/CEMEX/Sierra Madre. Mexico City.