Traditional ecological knowledge trends in the transition to a market economy: Empirical study in the Doñana natural areas

Erik Gómez-Baggethun, Sara Mingorría, Victoria Reyes-García, Laura Calvet, Carlos Montes

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186 Citations (Scopus)


Researchers and conservation managers largely agree on the relevance of traditional ecological knowledge for natural resource management in indigenous communities, but its prevalence and role as societies modernize are contested. We analyzed the transmission of traditional knowledge among rural local people in communities linked to protected areas in Doñana, southwestern Spain. We studied changes in knowledge related to local practices in agriculture and livestock farming among 198 informants from three generations that cover the period in which the area transited from an economy strongly dependent on local ecosystem services to a market economy with intensified production systems. Our results suggest an abrupt loss of traditional agricultural knowledge related to rapid transformations and intensification of agricultural systems, but maintenance of knowledge of traditional livestock farming, an activity allowed in the protected areas that maintains strong links with local cultural identity. Our results demonstrate the potential of protected areas in protecting remaining bodies of traditional ecological knowledge in developed country settings. Nevertheless, we note that strict protection in cultural-landscape-dominated areas can disrupt transmission of traditional knowledge if local resource users and related practices are excluded from ecosystem management. © 2010 Society for Conservation Biology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)721-729
JournalConservation Biology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • Intensification
  • Market integration
  • Natural protected areas
  • Resilience
  • Resource management
  • Spain
  • Traditional ecological knowledge


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