Sacred Ecology: 3rd Edition (Paperback) book cover

Sacred Ecology

3rd Edition

By Fikret Berkes

© 2012 – Routledge

392 pages

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Paperback: 9780415517324
pub: 2012-03-19
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pub: 2012-03-19
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Sacred Ecology examines bodies of knowledge held by indigenous and other rural peoples around the world, and asks how we can learn from this knowledge and ways of knowing. Berkes explores the importance of local and indigenous knowledge as a complement to scientific ecology, and its cultural and political significance for indigenous groups themselves. This third edition further develops the point that traditional knowledge as process, rather than as content, is what we should be examining. It has been updated with about 150 new references, and includes an extensive list of web resources through which instructors can access additional material and further illustrate many of the topics and themes in the book.

Winner of the Ecological Society of America's 2014 Sustainability Science Award.


"Berkes's Sacred Ecology is a must read for students in Environmental Anthropology. Key conceptual distinctions are clearly presented without recourse to jargon, while controversial issues such as indigenous conservation are carefully analyzed and illustrated by convincing case studies. The author offers realistic hope for a future world rich both in biological and cultural diversity." -- Eugene Hunn, University of Washington at Seattle

"I recognize myself in your texts, because I feel that it is about issues as taken exactly from the Sami reindeer herders' world, my world." - Inger Marie Gaup Eira, Sami University College, Norway

"What an amazing, rich and compelling analysis of the systems of environmental knowledge, practice and belief from indigenous and other long-resident peoples of the world! Dr. Berkes’ insights, developed from decades of experience, observation, and participatory study, will help all of us to respond to the immense problems we are facing. Perhaps the most profound message we can take away is that our beliefs matter in our interactions with the environment, and that knowledge is more than just something that is known; it is also the process of gaining information and wisdom." – Nancy J. Turner, University of Victoria, Canada

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Context of Traditional Ecological Knowledge. Defining Traditional Ecological Knowledge. Traditional Ecological Knowledge as Science. Differences: Philosophical or Political? Knowledge-Practice-Belief: A Framework for Analysis. Objectives and Overview of the Volume. Chapter 2 Emergence of the Field. Evolution and Differentiation of the Literature. Growth of Ecosystem-based Knowledge. Cultural and Political Significance for Indigenous Peoples. Questions of Ownership and Intellectual Property Rights. Practical Significance as Common Heritage of Humankind. Chapter 3 Intellectual Roots of Traditional Ecological Knowledge. Ethnobiology and Biosystematics: A Good Fit. More on Linguistics and Methodology: How to Get the Information Right. Exaggeration and Ethnoscience: The Eskimo Snow Hoax? Human Ecology and Territoriality. Integration of Social Systems and Natural Systems: Importance of Worldviews Chapter 4 Traditional Knowledge Systems in Practice. Tropical Forests: Not Amenable to Management? Semi-Arid Areas: Keeping the Land Productive. Traditional Uses of Fire. Island Ecosystems–Personal Ecosystems. Coastal Lagoons and Wetlands. Conclusions. Chapter 5 Cree Worldview "from the Inside". Animals Control the Hunt. Obligations of Hunters to Show Respect. Importance of Continued Use for Sustainability. Conclusions. Chapter 6 A Story of Caribou and Social Learning. "No One Knows the Way of the Winds and the Caribou". Cree Knowledge of Caribou in Context. Caribou Return to the Land of the Chisasibi Cree. A Gathering of the Hunters. Lessons for the Development of a Conservation Ethic. Lessons for the Question of Monitoring. Chapter 7 Cree Fishing Practices as Adaptive Management. The Chisasibi Cree System of Fishing. Subarctic Ecosystems: Scientific Understanding and Cree Practice. Three Cree Practices: Reading Environmental Signals for Management. A Computer Experiment on Cree Practice and Fish Population Resilience. Traditional Knowledge Systems as Adaptive Management. Lessons from Fisher Knowledge. Chapter 8 Climate Change and Indigenous Ways of Knowing. Indigenous Ways of Knowing and New Models of Community-Based Research. Inuit Observations of Climate Change Project. A Convergence of Findings. Significance of Local Observations and Place-Based Research. Indigenous Knowledge and Adaptation. Conclusions. Chapter 9 Complex Systems, Holism, and Fuzzy Logic. Rules-of-Thumb: Cutting Complexity Down to Size. Community-Based Monitoring and Environmental Change. Complex Systems Thinking. Local Knowledge and Expert Systems. A Fuzzy Logic Analysis of Indigenous Knowledge. Conclusions. Chapter 10 How Local Knowledge Develops: Cases from the West Indies. A Framework for Development of Local and Traditional Knowledge. Mangrove Conservation and Charcoal Makers. Dominican Sawyers: Developing Private Stewardship. Cultivating Sea Moss in St. Lucia. Rehabilitating Edible Sea Urchin Resources. Lessons from the Caribbean Cases. Conclusions. Chapter 11 Challenges to Indigenous Knowledge. Limitations of Indigenous Knowledge and the Exotic Other. Invaders and Natives: A Historical Perspective. Indigenous Peoples as Conservationists? "Wilderness" and a Universal Concept of Conservation. Adapting Traditional Systems to the Modern Context. Traditional Systems for Building Livelihoods in a Globalized Economy. Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Traditional Knowledge. Chapter 12 Toward a Unity of Mind and Nature. Political Ecology of Indigenous Knowledge. Indigenous Knowledge for Empowerment. Indigenous Knowledge as Challenge to the Positivist-Reductionist Paradigm. Making Scientific Sense of Indigenous Knowledge. Learning from Traditional Knowledge.

About the Author

Fikret Berkes is Distinguished Professor and Canada Research Chair at the Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba, Canada. His studies on community-based resource management have led to explorations of local and indigenous knowledge. He has authored some 250 scholarly publications and nine books, including Linking Social and Ecological Systems (Cambridge University Press, 1998) and Navigating Social-Ecological Systems (Cambridge, 2003).

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General