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Traditional agroecological knowledge, adaptive management and the socio-politics of conservation in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia

  • Derek R. Armitage (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 April 2003

This paper illustrates the opportunity for conservation offered by linking traditional agroecological knowledge and advances in adaptive management theory and practice. Drawing on examples from the Banawa-Marawola region of Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, a suite of traditional resource management practices premised on principles of adaptive management are identified and assessed, including: (1) resource management practices and regulations that are associated with the dynamics of complex systems; (2) procedural, planning and decision-making processes that foster learning; (3) sanctions and taboos that act as social mechanisms for the management and conservation of natural resources; and (4) ceremonies and social interactions that promote cultural internalization of the various practices, procedures and mechanisms. In addition, an emerging socio-political movement in the Banawa-Marawola region is explored. Premised on the strengthening of traditional rights and practices, the nascent Kamalise movement potentially provides the socio-political, institutional and organizational context needed to link traditional agroecological knowledge and adaptive management with broader conservation goals. Based on this analysis, two opportunities to enhance conservation in the region are identified: first, maintaining traditional agroecological systems and the associated adaptive resource management strategies used by local groups, and second, building upon the Kamalise movement to forge conservation alliances among communities, non-government and government organizations in which locally-evolved adaptive resource management strategies can be effectively applied. Both opportunities to combine traditional knowledge, adaptive management and conservation, however, are linked to the development aspirations of traditional groups: self-determination, acquisition of land rights and controlling the impacts of changes in livelihood.

Corresponding author
Correspondence: Dr Derek R. Armitage, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3C5 e-mail:
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Environmental Conservation
  • ISSN: 0376-8929
  • EISSN: 1469-4387
  • URL: /core/journals/environmental-conservation
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