Resilience of traditional knowledge systems: The case of agricultural knowledge in home gardens of the Iberian Peninsula

Victoria Reyes-García, Laura Aceituno-Mata, Laura Calvet-Mir, Teresa Garnatje, Erik Gómez-Baggethun, Juan J. Lastra, Ricardo Ontillera, Montserrat Parada, Montserrat Rigat, Joan Vallès, Sara Vila, Manuel Pardo-de-Santayana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)


The resilience of a social-ecological system largely depends on its capacity to learn by absorbing new information to cope with change. But, how resilient are traditional knowledge systems? We explore the resilience of the traditional agricultural knowledge system of home gardeners in the Iberian Peninsula (n=383). We use multivariate analysis to explore the co-existence of agricultural information derived from two different knowledge systems: (i) knowledge and use of landraces (representative of traditional agricultural knowledge) and (ii) knowledge and use of commercial crop varieties (representative of modern agricultural knowledge). Our analyses show a positive association between both types of knowledge: overall gardeners who are more knowledgeable about commercial crop varieties are also more knowledgeable about landraces. Despite this overall tendency, results from hierarchical cluster analysis showed different groups of traditional and modern knowledge holders. Our results suggest that (a) traditional knowledge is not a frozen and static corpus of knowledge and (b) modern and traditional agricultural knowledge are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Both maintenance of some aspects of the traditional knowledge and incorporation of some aspect of the modern knowledge seem to be core elements of home gardeners' body of agricultural knowledge which is constantly evolving in response to changing environmental and socioeconomic conditions. Changes in traditional knowledge can be seen as a part of the general self-organizing process of this knowledge system. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-231
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Adaptation
  • Agroecological systems
  • Farmers' knowledge
  • Iberian Peninsula
  • Kitchen gardens


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