The integrating of traditional knowledge into national policy project continues to touch communities

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Communities using participatory video to communicate with policy-makers

Darwin Project: Integrating Traditional Knowledge into National Policy and Practice is one-year into its community work. Communities that have already been trained are making their videos. Work scheduled to engage communities associated with other Protected Areas in the coming months. Very exciting!

The NRDDB team is still on the go; communicating with and visiting communities of the North Rupununi and afar, working to building capacities and enhancing the skills of the young people in areas of creating videos and documenting community owned solutions. Participatory videos look at how traditional knowledge can be used to manage and protect our protected areas.

Feedback from the communities is important in helping us to understand the way people view the project, but more importantly, to know some of the things they are thinking about as a result of the project’s activities. Mr. Daniels of Annai said that “This has become an important issue for us. Our traditional knowledge has been playing a role in the management and protection of our resources for many years, this has continued and is continuing and will continue to be so.”

The project is currently exploring with communities the challenges they face in transferring traditional knowledge to the next generation. An important part of this exercise is having community members vision how they would turn these challenges around, what they would need to do, how they would do it and how they would know when they achieve that goal. These visions are designed to follow the principles of community owned solutions:

  • The community needs it
  • The community does it
  • The community controls it
  • The community benefits from it
  • The solution is fair
  • The solution is good for the environment
  • The solution is self-reliant and not dependent on long-term external support.

The challenges are explored because of their importance to the communities, but also because a solid knowledge base is needed for the management of their titled land, and to sustain the landscapes they have customary user rights to, like protected areas.

Mrs. Gloria Duarte of Rupertee Village explains clearly why discussing and acting to effect solutions for traditional knowledge decline is important “we want to see our forest like how it is at the moment and we want our children to see it in the future. We don’t want no intruder to come and destroy what we have, it makes our villages look beautiful and we want to keep it this way, especially when it comes to our protected area.”

Communities such as Rupertee and Annai are part of the NRDDB who work with the Iwokrama International Centre for Rain Forest Conservation and Development in managing the Iwokrama Forest.

The project has just completed the first year of its life. We have engaged with six communities from three of the protected areas – Iwokrama Forest, Konashen and Kanuku Mountains. Over the course of the next year, we will be visiting communities associated with Kaieteur National Park and Shell Beach protected areas and continue engaging those communities we’ve started working with. We will also be working to engage the policy makers using the video materials coming out of our community engagements.

Follow Jay Mistry:

Professor of Geography - Royal Holloway University of London

Jay has more than 22 years’ experience in teaching, researching and building capacity for natural resource management with local communities. Her particular interests include supporting local livelihoods and biodiversity conservation, local environmental governance, action research using participatory video and capacity building for natural resource management.