, Volume 47, Issue 8, pp 908–923 | Cite as

High overlap between traditional ecological knowledge and forest conservation found in the Bolivian Amazon

  • Jaime Paneque-GálvezEmail author
  • Irene Pérez-Llorente
  • Ana Catarina Luz
  • Maximilien Guèze
  • Jean-François Mas
  • Manuel J. Macía
  • Martí Orta-Martínez
  • Victoria Reyes-García
Research Article


It has been suggested that traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) may play a key role in forest conservation. However, empirical studies assessing to what extent TEK is associated with forest conservation compared with other variables are rare. Furthermore, to our knowledge, the spatial overlap of TEK and forest conservation has not been evaluated at fine scales. In this paper, we address both issues through a case study with Tsimane’ Amerindians in the Bolivian Amazon. We sampled 624 households across 59 villages to estimate TEK and used remote sensing data to assess forest conservation. We ran statistical and spatial analyses to evaluate whether TEK was associated and spatially overlapped with forest conservation at the village level. We find that Tsimane’ TEK is significantly and positively associated with forest conservation although acculturation variables bear stronger and negative associations with forest conservation. We also find a very significant spatial overlap between levels of Tsimane’ TEK and forest conservation. We discuss the potential reasons underpinning our results, which provide insights that may be useful for informing policies in the realms of development, conservation, and climate. We posit that the protection of indigenous cultural systems is vital and urgent to create more effective policies in such realms.


Biocultural conservation Bolivian lowlands Ethnobotanical knowledge Forest fragmentation Indigenous knowledge systems Indigenous acculturation 



This work was funded through a FBBVA research grant (BIOCON_06_106-07) to the project Conservación del Bosque Amazónico y Territorios Indígenas: del Conflicto a la Colaboración. Estudio de Caso en la Amazonía Boliviana. J. Paneque-Gálvez is grateful to Ricardo Godoy, Tomás Huanca, Pablo Domínguez, and Gerardo Bocco for providing comments on the original manuscript, to Juan Carlos Ledezma for providing GIS data, to TAPS for their assistance with data collection and logistics while conducting fieldwork in the study area, and to the Tsimane’ for their help and friendship in the forest.


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© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jaime Paneque-Gálvez
    • 1
    Email author return OK on get
  • Irene Pérez-Llorente
    • 1
  • Ana Catarina Luz
    • 2
  • Maximilien Guèze
    • 3
  • Jean-François Mas
    • 1
  • Manuel J. Macía
    • 4
  • Martí Orta-Martínez
    • 2
    • 5
  • Victoria Reyes-García
    • 6
  1. 1.Centro de Investigaciones en Geografía Ambiental (CIGA)Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)MoreliaMexico
  2. 2.Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal
  3. 3.Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia AmbientalsUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBellaterraSpain
  4. 4.Departamento de Biología, Unidad de BotánicaUniversidad Autónoma de MadridMadridSpain
  5. 5.Facultat de Ciències i TecnologiaUniversitat Central de Catalunya/Universitat de VicVicSpain
  6. 6.ICREA and Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia AmbientalsUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBellaterraSpain

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