Indigenous vs scientific knowledge: The conflict over the use of fire in Canaima National Park, Venezuela

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Abstract

In order to understand the causes of a long term conflict over the use of fire in Canaima National Park, Venezuela, it is important to analyze the Pemon indigenous people’s knowledge of fire ecology in comparison with that of opposing scientists and technicians. For decades managers have tried to eliminate savannah burning in the National Park by the Pemon in the belief that fire directly causes forest loss. Cultural and environmental information upon which the Pemon use of fire is based and which has hitherto been ignored by managers and technicians is presented herein. As in recently documented cases in Australia and West Africa, it is shown that the Pemon use fire as a land management tool in the prevention of large forest wildfires. This information is of importance for modifying the government fire control program which has been carried out since 1981. The perceptions of local environmental change held by technicians and scientists on one hand and the Pemon on the other are also analyzed and contrasted, with special emphasis on the role of fire. There are important points of concurrence as well as notable areas of disagreement which should be considered in the design of a fire management system based upon both knowledge systems.
Translated title of the contributionIndigenous vs scientific knowledge: The conflict over the use of fire in Canaima National Park, Venezuela
Original languageSpanish (Peru)
Pages (from-to)121-129
Number of pages10
JournalInterciencia
Volume29
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2004

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