How Predictive is Traditional Ecological Knowledge? The Case of the Lacandon Maya Fallow Enrichment System.

Authors: Levy-Tacher, S.I. and Golicher, D.

Journal: Interciencia

Volume: 29

Pages: 406-502

ISSN: 0378-1844


The predictive power of traditional ecological knowledge in an observational setting is rarely critically evaluated. We analyze the results of a case study of indigenous fallow management in the Lacandon area of southern Mexico during January-July 2003 in the context of its predictive power. Three contrasting statistical analyses wer compared, including visual pattern matching, general linear modelling, and graphical models. A degree of abduction or a posteriori explanation is typically needed in the analysis of the observations of natural phenomena that indigenous people make. Despite this, contextually useful predictive power may be extracted from such information through a combination of experience, deduction and probabilistic induction. The case study suggests that the traditional ecological knowledge of the Lacandon people could provide useful guidance for the restoration of ecosystems. Lacandon land use is based on rotational slash and burn to produce maize. The natural vegetation is defined as lower montane rain forest. Deliberate planting and sowing of fast growing Ochroma pyramidale during fallow is essential to maintain and improve soil organic matter levels.

Source: Manual

Preferred by: Duncan Golicher