Local ecological knowledge indicators for wild plant management: Autonomous local monitoring in Prespa, Albania

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Broad consensus affirms the need to better understand the status and trends of biodiversity and the important role that local ecological knowledge (LEK) plays in establishing successful monitoring programs. Although often present, autonomous local monitoring systems are frequently ignored by externally-driven community-based or participatory conservation projects. Here we explore the autonomous LEK-led monitoring carried out by local medicinal plant harvesters to guide the management and harvesting of six locally useful medicinal plant species in Prespa National Park, Albania. Open and semi-structured interviews with harvesters (n = 22), National Park staff (n = 2) and scientific advisors (n = 2) were combined with participatory mapping, joint plot assessments with key informants and a science-led ecological plot survey. Results suggest that harvesters possessed detailed LEK and adopted a variety of socio-economic, management, ecological and environmental indicators to assess wild resources and inform their harvest practices. LEK- and science-led plot assessments generally agreed on most monitoring aspects, suggesting that LEK indicators were relevant and LEK-based perceptions were accurate and could be used to assess the status and trends of useful species. However, while LEK focused on the harvestable resource; i.e. certain individuals and plant parts, the science-based approach assessed plant populations as a whole. Official monitoring based on existing LEK-led monitoring appears to be feasible, but LEK may be more appropriate for monitoring resources for wild harvesting or certification purposes than for ‘pure’ conservation monitoring of plant populations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEcological Indicators
Pages (from-to)1064-1076
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2019

ID: 213916212