Emerging issues

In this final part of the book, we will reflect, albeit briefly, on the use of combined indigenous and ecological knowledge systems for scientific research development in Africa for future development planning for five reasons. First, problems of scientific research and development of the past will be different during the twenty-first century—in terms of multiplicities of challenges, the changing scales of research as well as uncertainties associated with global drivers of environmental change, such as the much-debated climate change. Second, under the transformed indigenous systems of production, expanding populations, increasing conflicts over access to resources, limitations of knowledge as well as shifting development priorities of the African societies under uncertainties will demand new approaches. Third, one needs to identify barriers to progress in terms of changes in social institutions and decision-making processes.’'

Fourth, resource managers would be confronted by fast moving events, in which knowledge of the past might be discredited and new ideas proposed which also need testing under changing land use and political conditions. Thus, the importance of science is to identify the types of knowledge that remain relevant. Fifth, twenty-first-century research should be able to evaluate extraneous factors that might influence changes in the indigenous knowledge.58

The challenge remains how to integrate ecological and indigenous know- ledge for evaluations of impacts of management on the natural resources. For example, linkages between local land-use factors and global environmental changes associated with human actions (Anthropocene) and climate drivers are rarely tested conceptually and practically. The twenty-first-century changes would demand greater integration of ecological and socio-economic knowledge systems for decision making and for developing ecological and anthropogenic web-based LTER data systems for decision-making.’9

Considering that both scientific and indigenous knowledge are changing, the context needs to be carefully defined and the scales at which the knowledge operates (i.e., global, regional, national or local scales) identified. Then the meta-data generated would be fed into the ongoing LTER and disseminated through web-based services.60

When using such an approach, new local terminologies and concepts about environmental conditions in relation to the anthropogenic indicators may described.61 Relations between the anthropogenic and ecological proxy indicators may then be gaged for decision-making.62 Further, the future should take advantage of technological advances such as remotely sensed platforms for rapid environmental assessments operating at regional and global scales. Meanwhile, we should acknowledge varieties of challenges that require more sophisticated methods of analysis, and communication skills to deal with varieties of technical and non-technical issues.65 We will illustrate this with a conceptual model on how interdisciplinary research applying ecological and indigenous knowledge might be applied.

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