High overlap between traditional ecological knowledge and forest conservation found in the Bolivian Amazon

Jaime Paneque-Gálvez, Irene Pérez-Llorente, Ana Catarina Luz, Maximilien Guèze, Jean François Mas, Manuel J. Macía, Martí Orta-Martínez, Victoria Reyes-García

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

27 Citations (Scopus)


© 2018, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. It has been suggested that traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) may play a key role in forest conservation. However, empirical studies assessing to what extent TEK is associated with forest conservation compared with other variables are rare. Furthermore, to our knowledge, the spatial overlap of TEK and forest conservation has not been evaluated at fine scales. In this paper, we address both issues through a case study with Tsimane’ Amerindians in the Bolivian Amazon. We sampled 624 households across 59 villages to estimate TEK and used remote sensing data to assess forest conservation. We ran statistical and spatial analyses to evaluate whether TEK was associated and spatially overlapped with forest conservation at the village level. We find that Tsimane’ TEK is significantly and positively associated with forest conservation although acculturation variables bear stronger and negative associations with forest conservation. We also find a very significant spatial overlap between levels of Tsimane’ TEK and forest conservation. We discuss the potential reasons underpinning our results, which provide insights that may be useful for informing policies in the realms of development, conservation, and climate. We posit that the protection of indigenous cultural systems is vital and urgent to create more effective policies in such realms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)908-923
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • Biocultural conservation
  • Bolivian lowlands
  • Ethnobotanical knowledge
  • Forest fragmentation
  • Indigenous acculturation
  • Indigenous knowledge systems


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