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Open AccessArticle

Role of Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Seasonal Calendars in the Context of Climate Change: A Case Study from China

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Key Laboratory for Plant Diversity and Biogeography of East Asia, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201, China
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University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
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Centre for Mountain Futures (CMF), Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201, China
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East and Central Asia Regional Office, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Kunming 650201, China
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Group of Plant Molecular Genetics and Adaptation, CAS Key Laboratory for Plant Diversity and Biogeography of East Asia, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2019, 11(12), 3243; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11123243
Received: 9 May 2019 / Revised: 3 June 2019 / Accepted: 6 June 2019 / Published: 12 June 2019
A seasonal calendar, based on traditional knowledge of ecological indicators, seasonal variations and associated activities, can provide a baseline for understanding the practices of indigenous along with climatic variation. This paper investigates the ethno-ecological knowledge of indigenous people in Taxkorgan regarding the use of ecological cues to conduct seasonal activities that harmonize with climatic variations. Meteorological data from the nearest station was used to understand climatic variations and develop indices. The results revealed that indigenous elders still adopt traditional methods to decide the time of various annual activities observing and using seasonal cues, such as the height and color of grass, the arriving of migratory birds and phenological observations. Moreover, same or diverse indicators were used at settlements located in different elevations. The analysis revealed that the region was recently getting warmer and wetter compared to previous decades, and local perceptions were matched with climatic recordings. Local inhabitants already practiced earlier plantation of crops (e.g., wheat) in recent years. Climatic indices calculated revealed and validated recent weather condition can support earlier plantation of crops. Hence, the strong forecasting system using meteorological evidence to support existing local knowledge on ecological indicators and adjust seasonal calendars can improve indigenous people’s abilities to cope with climate risks. Furthermore, this can support in developing adaptation schemes that respond to community needs. The approaches and findings can be used to facilitate the management of these natural resource based on the adaptive framework and to create data that can be tested in subsequent studies. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate change; indigenous people; seasonal variation; traditional ecological knowledge; farming-decision; transhumance-decision; Taxkorgan climate change; indigenous people; seasonal variation; traditional ecological knowledge; farming-decision; transhumance-decision; Taxkorgan
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Yang, H.; Ranjitkar, S.; Zhai, D.; Zhong, M.; Goldberg, S.D.; Salim, M.A.; Wang, Z.; Jiang, Y.; Xu, J. Role of Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Seasonal Calendars in the Context of Climate Change: A Case Study from China. Sustainability 2019, 11, 3243.

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