Importance of local knowledge in plant resources management and conservation in two protected areas from Trás-os-Montes, Portugal
[Resumen extraído de la fuente original]
Many European protected areas were legally created to preserve and maintain biological diversity, unique natural features and associated cultural heritage. Built over centuries as a result of geographical and historical factors interacting with human activity, these territories are reservoirs of resources, practices and knowledge that have been the essential basis of their creation. Under social and economical transformations several components of such areas tend to be affected and their protection status endangered.
Carrying out ethnobotanical surveys and extensive field work using anthropological methodologies, particularly with key-informants, we report changes observed and perceived in two natural parks in Trás-os-Montes, Portugal, that affect local plant-use systems and consequently local knowledge. By means of informants' testimonies and of our own observation and experience we discuss the importance of local knowledge and of local communities' participation to protected areas design, management and maintenance. We confirm that local knowledge provides new insights and opportunities for sustainable and multipurpose use of resources and offers contemporary strategies for preserving cultural and ecological diversity, which are the main purposes and challenges of protected areas. To be successful it is absolutely necessary to make people active participants, not simply integrate and validate their knowledge and expertise. Local knowledge is also an interesting tool for educational and promotional programs.
Keywords: Local knowledge, cultural heritage, protected areas, Montesinho, Douro International, Portugal.