Integrating local and scientific knowledge for environmental management
This paper evaluates the processes and mechanisms available for integrating different types of knowledge for environmental management. Following a review of the challenges associated with knowledge integration, we present a series of questions for identifying, engaging, evaluating and applying different knowledges during project design and delivery. These questions are used as a basis to compare three environmental management projects that aimed to integrate knowledge from different sources in the United Kingdom, Solomon Islands and Australia. Comparative results indicate that integrating different types of knowledge is inherently complex - classification of knowledge is arbitrary and knowledge integration perspectives are qualitatively very different. We argue that there is no single optimum approach for integrating local and scientific knowledge and encourage a shift in science from the development of knowledge integration products to the development of problem-focussed, knowledge integration processes. These processes need to be systematic, reflexive and cyclic so that multiple views and multiple methods are considered in relation to an environmental management problem. The results have implications for the way in which researchers and environmental managers undertake and evaluate knowledge integration projects.