Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Sustainable Resource Management in Papua New Guinea: The Role of Education and Implications for Policy
Tiu, S. A. (2016). Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Sustainable Resource Management in Papua New Guinea: The Role of Education and Implications for Policy (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10704
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10704
Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) has been argued to have a significant role as a strategy for sustainable resource management. TEK in this context refers to all aspects of indigenous knowledge and practice related to human interactions with the environment, and is particularly important in developing countries, where significant tensions exist between indigenous ways of life and capitalistic economic development. This research explored the perceptions of indigenous Papua New Guineans about a relationship between TEK and sustainability, the role of education in using TEK in sustainable resource management, and the extent to which existing education and sustainable resource management policies emphasise TEK. Twenty-four participants were invited from stakeholder groups involved in natural resource management, such as community members, educators, conservation practitioners, policy makers and resource developers. This qualitative study combined elements of both interpretivism and critical theory to understand and interpret participants’ perceptions of the challenges, limitations and management strategies for sustainable natural resource management using TEK. These approaches were informed by the literature on TEK and sustainability in developing the research design. Data was collected in two phases through semi-structured interviews and follow-up workshops and critically analysed using analysis of themes that emerged from the data and the literature. The findings indicated that TEK in the indigenous Papua New Guinean context led to a sustainable way of life through exercising the values of respect, responsibility and reciprocity for continuity. TEK was found to be a way of life that used holistic approaches of maintaining connection to land and other resources, and ensuring these were equitably accessed to meet social, cultural and physical human needs. This also showed that sustainability was embedded in every social and environmental aspect of TEK. The findings indicated that TEK had a crucial role in educating about sustainability through empowering and encouraging self-reflective learning among its users. A combination of formal, informal and non-formal education can engage and involve TEK users and learners to reflect on their beliefs and practices, develop positive attitudes and approaches towards sustainable resource management and keep TEK knowledge alive. The findings showed that existing policies related to education and sustainable resource management do not sufficiently include emphasis on TEK. Policy has a role in empowering communities through reinforcing TEK principles in education, and in decision-making and implementation for sustainable resource management. This study highlighted the importance of TEK as a significant approach to sustainability in the indigenous Papua New Guinean context for generations past. The application of TEK principles of respect, responsibility and reciprocity could be incorporated into formal and non-formal education. These principles could also achieve sustainable communities if consistently reinforced in policy across all sectors.
University of Waikato
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