The Role of Local Ecological Knowledge in Sustainable Urban Planning: Perspectives From Finland

This article reports on a study of the role of local ecological knowledge (LEK) as lay-expert knowledge in the urban land use planning process in Finland. The authors consider the importance of LEK, and the ways LEK is obtained and used. To obtain data, the authors interviewed planning officials, biologists, and representatives of resident and nature associations in the Helsinki metropolitan area. The results indicate that LEK exists among nature enthusiast, as well as local residents. Planners can access this knowledge in several ways, most notably through networks of knowledgeable key informants and local nature associations. The authors note that including LEK in urban planning is important because it complements scientific ecological data and indicates places important to locals. Some of the challenges of using LEK include collecting it through participatory planning processes, distinguishing it from other information, valuing subjective knowledge, and empowering planning officials to use LEK. In addition, technical improvements, such as registers of key informants and more efficient use of nature associations’ knowledge, would be useful in applying LEK. The authors conclude that even if LEK is available, decisionmakers need the will to enhance sustainability by using the information and by maintaining a certain amount of urban green space with a certain ”ecological quality level," even under the pressure of planning for the growing urban population.


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  • Accession Number: 01000389
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 24 2005 11:51AM