Participatory Mapping in Venda – creating visions for restoring riverine forest environments

By Dr Natasha Constant

Since 2018, I have been working with the community-based organisation Dzomo La Mupo and the South African Research Chair on Biodiversity and Change at the University of Venda, to develop a series of management plants to guide their work to support the planting of indigenous trees with a wider aim to rehabilitate riverine forests and sacred forests on their lands. In 2018, we worked with a small group of elders and youth representatives from the villages of Vuvha and Tshidzivhe in the Vhembe District of the north-east Limpopo Province to create a collective vision for the restoration of their land and forest environments using participatory maps.

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Plants and People

Indigenous and local knowledge (ILK) is defined as a ‘cumulative body of knowledge, practice, and belief, evolving by adaptive processes and handed down through generations by cultural transmission about the relationship of living beings (including humans) with one another and their environment (Berkes, 2012, p.7).’ The analysis of ILK indicates a dialectical relationship between local observations and knowledge of species and other phenomena, a component of practice in the ways people carry out their resource activities and belief regarding how knowledge and practices relate to ecosystems forming a nested ‘knowledge-practice-belief’ complex. My work focuses on the nature of ILK systems, the process of continuity and change that influences knowledge transfer across generations and the role ILK can play for biodiversity conservation.

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