Research in the last decade has emphasised the potential contribution of traditional ecological knowledge to cope with challenges from global environmental change. This research examines the role of traditional ecological knowledge and shared systems of beliefs in building long-term social-ecological resilience to environmental extremes. Data were collected from 13 villages of the Doñana region, southwestern Spain, through interviews, focus groups, and systematic reviews of historical archives. First, we assess adaptive practices to cope with environmental change. Then, we use historical records of religious ceremonies (1577-1956) to reconstruct collective responses to environmental extremes. Our results (1) show how environmental extremes could induce social and economic crises through declines in ecosystem services and (2) identify practices to cope with recurrent disturbance and institutional devices developed in response to environmental extremes. We conclude that traditional ecological knowledge and shared systems of beliefs can facilitate collective responses to crises and contribute to the maintenance of long-term resilience of social-ecological systems. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
- Traditional knowledge