Traditional Ecological Knowledge, or TEK, is “a cumulative body of knowledge, practice and belief, evolving by adaptive processes and handed down through generations by cultural transmission, about the relationships of living beings (including humans) with one another and with their environments.” With support from the PICCC, scientists at the University of Hawai’i Mānoa have undertaken research that is documenting baseline Traditional Ecological Knowledge for Ka’upulehu, in the north Kona region of Kekaha on Hawai‘i Island. This focused on biological and cultural resources most valued by the community, the challenges they face, and potential coping mechanisms. Through a series of workshops, investigators partnered with local community members, local resource managers and scientists to develop a variety of tools that will document and share the area’s TEK (with appropriate protections for sensitive information). Tools, programs and information under development include: a seasonal calendar, a timeline of adaptation, a series of maps showing native vegetation, and a knowledge base and observation network. Place-based observations are critically needed to complement global climate change models by explaining in more detail how climate is changing locally, what the ecological and social impacts are, and how people can adapt.
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