Karen Indigenous Knowledge of Sustainable Resource Management


  • Manasan Wongvarn
  • Sompong Amnuay-ngerntra


Karen, Indigenous Knowledge, Sustainable Resource Management


Contemporary environmental thought is beginning to realize that the relationship between humans and their environments involves a deep intertwining and not a mere co-existence. Yet older cultures have understood this for some time. This article analyzes indigenous ecological knowledge of forest conservation for the Karen indigenous community at Hin Lad Nai in northern Thailand. It explores the values of human-nature relationships, rooted in spiritual beliefs, resulting in holistic approach to biodiversity conservation, and discusses how this indigenous knowledge is preserved across generations in the community. Interviews with local scholars, youth, and ‘house ladies’ in the community, show complex practices for the goal of sustainable livelihood. For example, the community does not reclaim forest land for single use, such as tea or coffee plantations, but instead develops a multi-use strategy integrating the production of wild tea, bee hives, bamboo clump plantations into the natural forest. Through this strategy, food security is assured in the community,  and promotes sustainable living and fostering integrity between people and natural surroundings at the local community. Consequently, the Karen ecological knowledge potentially provides implications and contributions to promoting sustainable society which develops from local consciousness and well-integrated livelihoods.