Traditional Ecological Knowledge

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Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) refers to "the system of experiential knowledge gained by continual observation and transmitted among members of a community”. (Huntington 1998).

Traditional knowledge commonly refers to the knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities around the world.

TEK has been investigated by scientists: biologists and anthropologists alike, and found complementary to Western science, by the perspectives it gives.

TEK Digital Libraries

Researchers distinguish:

  • Traditional Knowledge Registers : with a legal status.
  • Community Traditional Knowledge Databases : managed by local communities or representative indigenous organisations.
  • External Traditional Knowledge Databases, created by citizens, researchers, students, Museums, NGOs, etc.

Some States have built databases of traditional knowledge, mainly as applied to biodiversity, plants and medicine, to prevent undue patenting of knowledge and processes found in the oral traditions, or ancient written traditions of traditional people.

India has set up a Traditional Knowledge Digital Library, China a Database of Patents on Traditional Medicine, Peru has proposed to indigenous people a mechanism for the registration of traditional knowledge in public, confidential or local registers, which remain optional. India also has extensive experience (since 1995) of People"s Biodiversity Registars.


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