Burning, fire prevention and meanings of landscape among the Pemon, Gran Sabana, Venezuela: Toward an inter-cultural approach to wildland fire management in neotropical savannas

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Wildland fire management in savanna landscapes increasingly incorporates indigenous knowledge to pursue strategies of controlled, prescriptive burning to control fuel loads. However, such participatory approaches are fraught with challenges because of contrasting views on the role of fire and the practices of prescribed burning between indigenous and state fire managers. Also, indigenous and state systems of knowledge and meanings associated with fire are not monolithic but instead characterized by conflicts and inconsistencies, which require new, communicative strategies in order to develop successful, intercultural approaches to fire management. This paper is based on long-term research on indigenous Pemon social constructs, rules and regulations regarding fire use, and traditional system of prescribed burning in the Gran Sabana, Venezuela. The authors review factors that act as constraints against successful intercultural fire management in the Gran Sabana, including conflicting perspectives on fire use within state agencies and in indigenous communities, and propose strategies for research and communicative planning to guide future efforts for more participatory and effective fire management.
Original languageEnglish
Article number115
Pages (from-to)155-166
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Issue number2013
Early online date17 Dec 2012
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2013

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