Canadian Forest Service Publications
Ethics and Research Methodologies for the Study of Traditional Forest-Related Knowledge. Gamborg, C.; Parsons, R.; Puri, R.K; Sandoe, P. 2012. Pages 535-562 in J.A. Parrotta and R.L. Trosper, eds. Traditional Forest-Related Knowledge: Sustaining Communities, Ecosystems, and Biocultural Diversity. World Forests 12, Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Available from: Atlantic Forestry Centre
Catalog ID: 32904
Available from the Journal's Web site. †
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This chapter examines some of the main research methodologies for studying traditional forest-related knowledge (TFRK). Initially, we address ethical issues, asking, for example, what constitutes proper handling of research results. The relationship between TFRK and modern science is then discussed from a methodological perspective, after which an account of some of the main methods used for studying such knowledge—including participant observation, interviews, cultural domain analysis, questionnaires, and workshops—is provided. Ethnographic approaches are recommended for documenting both verbal and tacit knowledge embedded in skills and practices, while the tools of cultural domain analysis allow for both quantitative and qualitative analysis of individual variation in knowledge. Finally, recurring elements of best practice are presented. If ethical and methodological questions are not addressed in a consistent and systematic manner from the outset of the research, the rights of TFRK owners may well be infringed, meaning that benefi ts will not accrue to the owners and that access to resources (such as genetic resources) may be suddenly curtailed. Thus, all parties must address the challenges raised by the maintenance, use, and protection of traditional forest-related knowledge when there is interaction between the holders and users of such knowledge.