Documenting and protecting traditional knowledge in the era of open science: Insights from two Spanish initiatives

Victoria Reyes-García*, Petra Benyei, Laura Aceituno-Mata, Airy Gras, María Molina, Javier Tardío, Manuel Pardo-de-Santayana

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Ethnopharmacological relevance: The documentation and protection of traditional knowledge face new challenges in the era of open science. Focusing on medicinal and food uses, we discuss two innovative initiatives in Spain to document, protect and return to the society traditional knowledge. Materials and methods: The Spanish Inventory of Traditional Knowledge related to Biodiversity has compiled and published information on the traditional use and management of flora, fauna, fungi, geodiversity, and ecosystems. CONECT-e ( is an online platform where citizens can document knowledge and uses of wild and domesticated species. We describe the extent of these initiatives in terms of participation and accomplishment, and discuss their complementarities and challenges. Results: The initiatives described have fostered the establishment of a common standard for organizing traditional knowledge in databases that facilitate knowledge documentation: 131,066 uses and 152,246 local names have been documented so far. Using open data and copyleft licenses, these initiatives also contribute to the maintenance of traditional knowledge in the commons domain, guaranteeing the free exchange and reproduction of knowledge. However, the extensive focus of these initiatives on data sharing does not necessarily guarantee knowledge holders’ data sovereignty. Conclusion: To protect TEK in a context of open science more efforts should be done to operationalize traditional knowledge holders’ rights to data sovereignty.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114295
JournalJournal of Ethnopharmacology
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2021


  • Citizen science
  • Data sovereignty
  • Inventories
  • Knowledge commons
  • Medicinal plants


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