Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Nontraditional Communities: A Case Study in Jiuzhaigou National Park


  • Wendy Wright
  • Yan Wang
  • Ya Tang


Local knowledge, traditional knowledge, land management, natural area management, national park, Jiuzhaigou, China


Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) is increasingly recognised as a useful if not imperative source of information for successful and sustainable management of natural resources and protected areas. Such knowledge is often held by local and indigenous people and is at risk where communities are no longer actively connected with the environment in their daily lives. Jiuzhaigou National Park (JNP) is located in the Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Northern Sichuan Province in south western China. Prior to the establishment of the park, nine Tibetan villages were located in the area and indigenous Tibetan communities still exist within the park. Members of these communities are now largely dependent on park gate fees and other tourism-related activities for their livelihoods so that, for most members of the community, TEK is no longer applied on a daily basis. This research uses a qualitative approach to investigate whether TEK is held by local people who live and work in JNP. Despite rapid social and economic change, evidence of TEKin the form of location specific knowledge and knowledge of environmental linkages was documented during this preliminary study. Older residents within JNP still hold a great deal of knowledge about past and current distributions of plants and animals, as well as traditional and alternative land management approaches, however this study found little evidence of local capacity building and power sharing based upon this knowledge. Park staff also hold substantial place-based ecological knowledge even though few have a formal education in natural resource management or ecology. In addition, staff and residents have significant insights into emerging natural resource management issues both within and outside the park boundaries. A management approach that better integrates local knowledge, including traditional knowledge of ecosystem management is advocated for JNP. ism).