Dissertations >> Glenn Edney - Honouring Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Glenn Edney - Honouring Traditional Ecological Knowledge


The coastal communities of the Reef Islands, in the remote Temotu province, Solomon Islands, have a long history of successful customary tenure of the surrounding marine eco-systems. Sustainable exploitation was achieved partly through the inherent limitations of traditional fishing equipment and methods as well as management strategies such as seasonally closed areas and other restrictions. Historically there was a strong qualitative element to these traditional management strategies that reflected the close participatory, and often survival dependant, relationship with the marine environment. This traditional ecological knowledge allowed for adaptive responses to change due to external forces such as severe weather events. However, in more recent times internal changes such as increasing population pressure, new technology fishing techniques and periodic intensive harvesting of specific species, as well as external forces such as commercial fishing and climate change have eroded the effectiveness of traditional management techniques.

This thesis focuses on research conducted with the support and cooperation of the village of Tuo, the largest community on Fenualoa, one of the Reef Islands Island, and OceansWatch, an international NGO who have been working with the community since 2010. The aim of this research is to provide a preliminary evaluation of the effectiveness of qualitative and intuitive ways of knowing as they relate to assessing the health and sustainable use of marine ecosystems by island communities. Qualitative assessment is measured using the Free Choice Profiling (FCP) methodology, adapted by Francoise Wemelsfelder, in her work with farmed animal welfare. This is a phenomenological approach where volunteers are asked to describe, in their own terms, the inherent, discernable qualities of specific sites. The results are analysed using Generalised Procrustes Analysis (GPA). Two separate FCP surveys were conducted, one with volunteers from OceansWatch and the other with Reef Guardian trainees from Tuo. Of interest in this study is how the results can be used to develop a qualitative monitoring program that compliments traditional management practices within the framework of customary marine tenure.

In addition to the main theme of this thesis a preliminary, comparative study is made between the FCP surveys and transect data collected from the same sites using ‘Reef Check’, a quantitative monitoring methodology that utilises local stakeholders, trained in the methodology, as well as marine scientists, to create a global database of coral reef health.


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