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Decrease in traditional ecological knowledge through modernization: Perspectives on culturally protected village fengshui forests in Southeast China
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
2015 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 40 credits / 60 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

China’s fast development after the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949 involved intense pressure on forests, leading to a massive decrease and degradation of forest landscapes, loss of biodiversity, soil erosion and flooding. However, many village fengshui forests (VFFs) have been spared devastation due to protection by informal village institutions built on fengshui, a form of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK).

This study aimed to find out what happens with TEK of VFFs as Chinese society goes through modernization by looking at the difference between younger and older generations in Wuyuan County in Southeast China regarding: (1) knowledge about, beliefs related to, and attitude towards[1] the VFFs; and (2) values associated with ecosystem services (ES) provided by the VFFs.  Ninety-four interviews with “young” and “old” villagers were carried out in 10 villages in the county. The results show that TEK of VFFs is weakening and that the older generation values ES provided by the VVFs significantly higher than younger generations.

As a complement, questions on historical changes in management and livelihoods from the VFFs where posed, revealing possible causes of the loss of TEK, such as suppression of belief systems and abandonment of ancient culture during the political campaigns of the 1960’s and 70’s in China. In conclusion, protection of VFFs will likely require recognition from higher authorities and inclusion in conservation policies. Further, the health and continued survival of the interlinked social-ecological system of VFFs will require acknowledging existing fengshui culture and involving local stewards in VFF management.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. , 58 p.
Keyword [en]
Traditional Ecological Knowledge; Local Ecological Knowledge; Ecological Knowledge; Fengshui; Fengshui forest;Traditional Forest Management; Traditional Forest Management in China
National Category
Other Natural Sciences Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-122536OAI: diva2:873088
Available from: 2015-11-23 Created: 2015-11-04 Last updated: 2015-11-23Bibliographically approved

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Lenell, Matilda
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Stockholm Resilience Centre
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