Can Local Ecological Knowledge be Used to Assess Status and Extinction Drivers in a Threatened Freshwater Cetacean?
By: Samuel T. Turvey, Claire L. Risley, Jeffrey E. Moore, Leigh A. Barrett, Hao Yujiang, Zhao Xiujiang, Zhou Kaiya, & Wang Ding
Biological Conservation, 157:352-360
Key words: Fisheries By-catch, Incidental Mortality, Interview Survey, Mortality Index, Neophocaena
Local ecological knowledge constitutes a potentially useful source of information for conservation, but the quality, limitations and biases of this body of knowledge remain largely untested. The Yangtze finless porpoise (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis asiaeorientalis) is a highly threatened freshwater cetacean found in one of the world’s most densely populated human environments. The dynamics of porpoise decline remain poorly understood, and local ecological knowledge from fishing communities across its range may represent an important conservation tool for monitoring porpoise population status and quantifying levels of human-caused mortality.

Tibetan Sacred Sites: Understanding the Traditional Management System and Its Role in Modern Conservation
By: Xiaoli Shen, Zhi Lu, Shengzhi Li, & Nyima Chen
Ecology and Society, 17(2):13
Key words: Informal Institutions, Participatory Mapping, Protected Areas, Tibetan Sacred Sites, Traditional Land Management
Sacred sites are based on indigenous culture and traditional practices that value land and lives, and are considered to be of significant contribution in biodiversity conservation. However, there is a lack of understanding about how these traditional systems function (i.e., the distribution and size of sacred sites, their management and current status), especially for those sites within the Tibetan region. From 2004 to 2007, the authors investigated 213 sacred mountains, a major form of Tibetan sacred site, in western China, and documented their traditional management system.

Traditional Ecological Knowledge Informing Resource Management: Saxoul Conservation in Inner Mongolia, China
By: Ruifei Tang & Michael C. Gavin
Society and Natural Resources, 23:193-206
Key words: China, Community-Based Conservation, Mongolian Herders, Saxoul, Traditional Ecological Knowledge
Authors examine Mongolian herders’ traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) of saxoul (Haloxylon ammodendron), a keystone tree species in the Gobi desert.

Role of Traditional Beliefs of Baima Tibetans in Biodiversity Conservation in China
By: Luo Yaofeng, Liu Jinlong, & Zhang Dahong
Forest Ecology and Management, 257:1995-2001
Key words: China, Gansu Providence, Traditional Culture, Forest Biodiversity, Wildlife
Baima Tibetans, a unique ethnic group inhabiting the hilly regions of the southern tip of Gansu Province, possess ancient religious beliefs and rich traditional knowledge. Baima Tibetans have developed their culture, traditional beliefs, knowledge, customs and resource use systems through their productive activities and living practices over many generations. These have played a critical role in conserving local biodiversity, including the giant panda, and preserving the livelihoods of local inhabitants.

Tibetan Sacred Site Conserve Old Growth Trees and Cover in the Eastern Himalayas
By: Jan Salick, Anthony Amend, Danica Anderson, Kurt Hoffmeister, Bee Gunn, & Fang Zhendong
Biodiversity and Conservation, 16:693-706
Key words: Conservation, Himalayas, Khawa Karpo, Northwest Yunnan, Sacred Sites
Khawa Karpo, in the eastern Himalayas, is a mountain considered sacred throughout Tibet, and is internationally recognized as a global biodiversity hotspot. Numerous areas within this landscape are considered ‘sacred’ by the indigenous Tibetans of the region, who interact with these sites in ways potentially beneficial to conservation. This study examines the role of sanctity in biodiversity conservation within habitats in the Khawa Karpo region by pairing plots within the same habitats in sacred and non-sacred areas.

Conserving the Sacred Medicine Mountains: A Vegetation of Tibetan Sacred Sites in Northwest Yunnan
By: Danica M. Anderson, Jan Salick, Robert K. Moseley, & Ou Xiaokun
Biodiversity and Conservation, 14:3065-3091
Key words: Biodiversity, Ethnobotany, Indigenous Land Management, Quantitative Conservation Biology, Sacred Sites
Mount Kawa Karpo of the Menri (‘Medicine Mountains’ in Tibetan), in the eastern Himalayas, is one of the most sacred mountains to Tibetan Buddhists. Religious beliefs may affect the ecology of these sacred areas, resulting in unique ecological characteristics of importance to conservation; recent studies have demonstrated that sacred areas can often play a major role in conservation. Sacred sites are compared to random points in the landscape, in terms of: elevation, vegetation, and nearness to villages; species composition, diversity, and richness; and frequency of useful and endemic plant species.

Integrating Sacred Knowledge for Conservation: Cultures and Landscapes in Southwest China
By: Jianchu Xu, Erzi T. Ma, Duojie Tashi, Yongshou Fu, Zhi Lu, & David Melick
Ecology and Society, 10(2):7
China is undergoing economic growth and expansion to a free market economy at a scale and pace that are unprecedented in human history. This is placing great pressure on the country’s environment and cultural diversity. This paper examines a number of case histories in China, focusing on the culturally varied and ecologically diverse southwest region of the country. The authors show how developments in recent Chinese history have devalued and in some cases eliminated indigenous knowledge and practices in the quest to strengthen the centralized state.

Last updated: March 5, 2018