Local ecological knowledge also ’comes from books’: Cultural change, landscape transformation and conservation of biodiversity in two protected areas in Portugal

  • Amélia Frazão-Moreira Centro de Estudos de Antropologia Social and Universidade Nova de Lisboa
  • Ana Maria Carvalho Centro de Investigação de Montanha and Instituto Politécnico de Bragança
  • Maria Elisabete Martins Centro de Estudos de Antropologia Social
Keywords: local ecological knowledge, natural parks, heritage, ethnobotany


The study of social and economic change and the consequent landscape transformation in Parque Natural de Montesinho and Parque Natural de Douro Internacional (in the northeast of Portugal) allows us to discuss the ambivalent relation between the political aims of biodiversity preservation and the social reality in protected rural areas. Ethnographic research on plant use and nature discourses, together with an analysis of social differentiation (in terms of age, gender and schooling) of ethnobotanical knowledge show us how local people dynamically combine traditional and orally-transmitted knowledge with popular or then scientific exogenous ecological knowledge, especially that learned from the media and books. This data also makes possible a reflection on what way local culture is transformed into heritage within the context of protected areas.