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Observing “Weeds” to Understand Local Perceptions of Environmental Change in a Temperate Rural Area of Southwestern France

Abstract : Rural areas of the temperate European countries are affected by climate changes that are not always perceived by local communities. We focus on how local discourses on biodiversity, in our case wild flora, provide insight into what people see as changing in their environment. We conducted ethnographic research, including interviews and participant observation, on perceptions of biodiversity change in Bas-Comminges, a rural area of France where agriculture consists primarily of extensive mixed farming. Wild flora management there is shaped by traditional agricultural practices, rural and agricultural policies, and warmer temperatures and other climatic changes. We will show that (1) wild flora is seen as growing and expanding due to changes in local institutions in charge of green spaces, changes in agriculture, and warmer temperatures; (2) discourses on those impacts reveal different types of knowledge and uses of local flora; and (3) social conflicts are emerging around local flora management, and these conflicts reveal tensions between different objectives for the land within a changing community. We will demonstrate that warmer temperatures are not always linked to global climate changes by local residents and that environmental and social changes cannot be apprehended separately from climatic ones. More broadly, we want to understand how rural populations are facing and adapting to the major transformations of their land and society, and we show that conflicts can be used by different types of local residents to take back control of their land and maintain their communities. This research is part of a larger interdisciplinary and comparative program on local perceptions of environmental change funded by the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR).
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Contributor : Emilie Andrieu Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Monday, May 18, 2020 - 11:27:50 AM
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Anne A. Sourdril, Emilie Andrieu, Cécile Barnaud, Louise Clochey, Marc Deconchat. Observing “Weeds” to Understand Local Perceptions of Environmental Change in a Temperate Rural Area of Southwestern France. Sourdril Anne, Welch-Devine Meredith, Burke Brian J. Changing Climate, Changing Worlds - Local Knowledge and the Challenges of Social and Ecological Change, Ethnobiology, Springer International Publishing, pp.71-98, 2020, 978-3-030-37311-5. ⟨10.1007/978-3-030-37312-2_5⟩. ⟨hal-02611185⟩



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