Folk and formal, local and national

Folk and formal, local and national: Damara cultural knowledge and community-based conservation in southern Kunene, Namibia

Paper published in Cimbebasia 15 (1999): 1-28.

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This paper explores aspects of culturally-mediated knowledge and uses of natural resources among contemporary Damara farmers in southern Kunene Region, and considers the potential relevance of these for current ‘community’ approaches to conservation. Two possibly ancient resource-use practices, the harvesting of seeds and honey, are considered in detail, illustrating several parallels between folk and formal ecological knowledge. These case studies indicate that a deeper awareness in policy and planning of local knowledge and practice may foster culturally-resonant, ecologically appropriate and socially inclusive dialogue regarding resource-use issues. Grounding national conservation objectives in local contexts implies a shift in approach which acknowledges the existence and value of cultural knowledge relating to a range of natural resources other than large mammals.

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