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The potential of, and threat to, the transfer of ecological knowledge in urban areas: the case of community-based woodland management in Tokyo, Japan

Kazuaki Tsuchiya, Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba
Midori Aoyagi, Center for Social and Environmental Systems Research, National Institute for Environmental Studies
Toshiya Okuro, Department of Ecosystem Studies, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo
Kazuhiko Takeuchi, Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science, The University of Tokyo; United Nations University


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Urban dwellers often have little knowledge of local ecosystems, but community groups that actively manage local ecosystems can acquire a rich ecological knowledge. Understanding the knowledge transfer process within community groups contributes to the continuous improvement of urban ecosystem management. In this paper, we address three main questions: (1) How is ecological knowledge acquisition linked to boundary and intra-group interactions? (2) Does holding knowledge mean the involvement in actual management activities? (3) Does the aging of community group members threaten the continuity of activities? We selected satoyama woodlands (seminatural woodlands) in peri-urban Tokyo, Japan as a study site. We used a mixed method approach that combined a qualitative interview with a quantitative questionnaire. We found that boundary interactions were particularly important at the start of an urban ecological management process, to obtain basic knowledge relating to management activities. Intra-group interaction contributed to knowledge transfer after the starting period. We found that participants possessing considerable ecological knowledge do not necessarily participate in management activities. Findings also indicated that the aging of group members in groups established for more than 10 years was an area of concern for the continuity of group activities. New members did not necessarily solve this aging issue. We conclude that further measures and actions are needed to ensure long-term knowledge transfer among the participants of community groups in urban ecosystem management.

Key words

local ecological knowledge; mixed method; satoyama; urban ecology; woodland management

Copyright © 2014 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087