Incorporating sustainable indigenous management systems for land resources

Integrating customary natural resource management practices
Traditional peoples who depended on their local ecosystems for their essential needs, have accumulated by trial and error a rich body of local environmental knowledge, and in several cases elaborated resource management systems, and developed institutions appropriate for implementing these systems. Indigenous land resource management systems can also enhance or form the foundation of more modern or scientific management practices.

This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities. Agenda 21 recommends strengthening management systems for land and natural resources by including appropriate traditional and indigenous methods; examples of these practices include pastoralism, Hema reserves (traditional islamic land reserves) and terraced agriculture.

Much of the present situation is characterized by planning policies and social structures which both neglect local cultures and exploit the environment. An alternative approach is suggested based not simply on a return to tradition but rather an ethnically based productive system which embodies some relevant traditional elements. Both ethnobotany and anthropology have a prime role in developing the theoretical tools to study scientifically this situation and provide a better base for planning.
Land type/use
Minority, indigenous groups
Folk traditions
Sustainable development
Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies