Dynamics of Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Local Use and Conservation of Native Trees and Shrubs in the Bolivian Andes

Brandt, Regine; Mathez-Stiefel, Sarah-Lan; Hensen, Isabel; Rist, Stephan (2008). Dynamics of Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Local Use and Conservation of Native Trees and Shrubs in the Bolivian Andes. In: Tielkes, Eric (ed.) Tropentag 2008: International Conference on Research for Development in Agriculture and Forestry, Food and Natural Resource Management. Competition for Resources in a Changing World: New Drive for Rural Development: Book of Abstracts. Göttingen, Germany: Cuvillier

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Native trees and shrubs are essential components of rural landscapes in the semi-arid inner-Andean valleys of Bolivia. They can be found as hedges and bushes in various agroecosystems such as terrace walls, slopes, field boundaries and fallow land. Their distribution and floristic composition are the result of dynamic spatial and temporal interactions between local farmers and the environment. Local uses of natural resources and biodiversity reflect the constantly evolving Andean culture, which can be generally characterised as an intertwining of the human, natural, and spiritual worlds. The aim of the present ethnobotanical study was to analyse the dynamics of traditional ecological knowledge, to ascertain local farmers’ perceptions and uses of native woody species in Andean communities and to associate the results with local conservation activities for the trees and shrubs concerned. Our case study was carried out within two communities of the Tunari National Park (Dept. Cochabamba) in Bolivia. For data collection, research methods from social science (semi-structured interviews, participative observation, participatory mapping) as well as vegetation surveys were combined. Local actors included women and men of all ages as well as families from different social categories and altitudinal levels of permanent residence. Our study indicates that, due to a multitude of socio-economic pressures (e.g. migration of young people) as well as changes in use of biodiversity (e.g. replacement of native by exotic introduced species), the traditional ecological knowledge base of native trees and shrubs and their respective uses has become diminished over time. In many cases it has led to a decline in people’s awareness of native species and as a consequence their practical, emotional and spiritual relationships with them have been lost. However, results also show that applied traditional ecological knowledge has led to local conservation strategies, which have succeeded in protecting those tree and shrub species which are most widely regarded for their multifunctional, constant and exclusive uses (e.g. Schinus molle, Prosopis laevigata, Baccharis dracunculifolia). The presentation will discuss the question if and how applied traditional ecological knowledge positively contributes to local initiatives of sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity in rural areas.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > NCCR North-South Management Centre [discontinued]
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Geographies of Sustainability
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Geographies of Sustainability > Unit Critical Sustainability Studies (CSS)
10 Strategic Research Centers > Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)

UniBE Contributor:

Mathez-Stiefel, Sarah-Lan, Rist, Stephan


900 History > 910 Geography & travel
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 330 Economics








Stephan Schmidt

Date Deposited:

22 Jul 2015 13:27

Last Modified:

16 Feb 2023 23:22





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