Creating Field Guides to Mobilize Ethnobiological Knowledge

Date and Time: 
Thursday, 5 May, 2011 - 22:10 to 22:30
THOMAS, William -- Montclair State University

If Ethnobiological knowledge is to become a tool for building a sustainable future for both cultures and ecosystems, we must go beyond the production of inventories to demonstrate the relevance of this knowledge to solving problems. Nowhere is this more import than the conservation of biodiversity. In this paper, I demonstrate the potential of a field guide for birds to mobilize Ethnobiological knowledge for conservation. Drawing on fieldwork with the Hewa people of Papua New Guinea, I will discuss the development of a Hewa field guide written to facilitate cross-cultural communication between scientists and pre-literate naturalists. By employing graphics as well as written information, this guide has enabled a predominately pre-literate community to communicate with conservation NGO's and spurred a conservation initiative called the Papuan Forest Stewards that is based upon Ethnobiological knowledge.