Biodiversity Science ›› 2018, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (12): 1350-1357.doi: 10.17520/biods.2018257

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Establishing a national indicator system in China for the assessment of traditional knowledge associated with biodiversity

Dongmei Liu1, Dayuan Xue2, *(), Lei Cai3, Junsheng Li1, *(), Nengwen Xiao1   

  1. 1 State Environmental Protection Key Laboratory of Regional Eco-process and Function Assessment, Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, Beijing 100012
    2 College of Life and Environmental Science, Minzu University of China, Beijing 100081
    3 Department of Nature and Ecology Conservation, Ministry of Ecology and Environment, Beijing 100035
  • Received:2018-09-21 Accepted:2018-12-05 Online:2019-02-12
  • Xue Dayuan,Li Junsheng;
  • About author:# 同等贡献作者 Contributed equally to this work

More data needs to be collected to assess the wide range of traditional knowledge associated with biodiversity to identify the key pressures on diversity today and also highlight protection gaps for decision makers in biodiversity conservation. An indicator system is a useful tool in scientific assessments, yet few studies have made use of them. An indicator system to assess traditional knowledge associated with biodiversity was preliminarily established at a regional and national scale based on the Pressure-State-Response (PSR) model, taking into account major players, species threats, existing measures for protection and transmission of traditional knowledge associated with biodiversity. Through expert consultation, 30 indicators were identified, including 7 pressure indicators, 14 status indicators and 9 response indicators. These indicators could be used for a comprehensive assessment of traditional knowledge associated with biodiversity, and also could also be applied to a separate assessment concerning the basic status of threats to biodiversity, current protections, the transmission of traditional knowledge associated with biodiversity and relevant genetic resources. Moreover, “The National Technology and Methodology System for Surveying Traditional Knowledge Associated with Biodiversity” was developed based on the results of “The National Survey on Traditional Knowledge Associated with Biodiversity”, which combined interviews with key figures, questionnaire responses and participatory observations and was supplemented by scientifically-derived biological and ecological knowledge. Interviewees were identified from target groups using snowball sampling. This system was developed according to parameters drawing on the results of surveys on ethnobotanical and traditional knowledge associated with biodiversity at home and abroad. The system was then piloted and modified accordingly.

Key words: traditional knowledge associated with biodiversity, assessment, indicator, PSR, survey

Table 1

Indicator system and parameters for assessment of traditional knowledge (TK)) associated with biodiversity in China"

Indicator categories
Assessment indicators
Assessment parameters
Impact of economic benefits
Number of the TK (traditional knowledge) entries eliminated due to poor economic benefits
Influence of foreign cultures
Number of the TK entries influenced seriously by foreign cultures
Habitat loss
因外来种入侵和环境污染等破坏相关遗传资源的生境, 导致其生境丧失的传统知识数量
Number of the TK entries lost along with deteriorated habitats, which relevant genetic resources depend on. The root causes for habitat deteriorating include alien invasive species, environmental pollution, etc.
Eeffect of overexploitation
Number of the TK entries affected by overexploitation
Land use change
Number of the TK entries affected by land use change
Impact of natural disasters
Number of the TK entries impacted by natural disasters
Validity of inheritance
Number of the TK entries without inheritance measures

丰富度 Diversity 传统知识总数量 Number of total TK entries
Number of the TK entries which could date back to more than 100 years
Distribution patterns
Number of the TK entries distributed only in 1-2 townships
Economic value
Number of the TK entries with high or medium economic value
Socio-cultural value
Number of the TK entries with high or medium socio-cultural value
特有性 Endemism 区域特有的传统知识数量 Number of the TK entries endemic to the region
Exploitation status
Number of the TK entries involved in large-scale commercialized development
Inheritance situation
Number of the TK entries that have been identified as inheritors
Ownership by ethnic minorities
Number of the TK entries created and owned by ethnic minorities
Ownership by
local communities
Number of the TK entries with clear ownership by local communities
Degree of extinction risk
Number of the TK entries which associated genetic resources are threatened and endangered
丧失情况 Extinct TK 近30年已丧失的传统知识数量 Number of the extinct TK entries in past 30 years
流失情况 Be lost abroad 已流失国外的传统知识数量 Number of the TK entries that have been lost abroad
Gaps in protection
and inheritance measures
Number of the TK entries without any protection and inheritance measures
Protected by international laws and agreements
Number of the TK entries protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, Bonn Convention, etc.
Protected by domestic
laws and regulations
Number of the TK entries protected by Law of Wild Animal Protection, Wild Plants Protection Regulation, Intangible Cultural Heritage Law, Nature Reserve Regulation, Animal Industry Law, Seed Law, Traditional Chinese Medicine Law, etc.
Indicator categories
Assessment indicators
Assessment parameters
Protected by
intellectual property rights
Number of the TK entries protected by intellectual property legislation of patents, geographical indications, trademarks, copyrights, etc.
Policy measures
Number of the TK entries protected by national and local policies, including investment mechanism, incentive policy, benefit sharing, etc.
Cultural protection
Number of the TK entries protected by traditional culture (customary law, rituals, etc.) and religious beliefs (sacrifice, sacred mountain, sacred forest, etc.)
Engineering measures
Number of the TK entries protected by in situ conservation (nature reserves, national parks, scenic spots, natural heritage sites, agricultural and cultural heritage sites, forest parks, wetland parks, natural protection zones, etc.) and ex situ conservation (zoos, botanical gardens, germplasm resource gardens, artificial breeding bases, aquariums, etc.)
Local community protection
Number of the TK entries voluntarily protected by local communities
Protected by
clanship protection
Number of the TK entries protected by clans, such as the ancestral secret recipe
Social organization
Number of the TK entries protected by social groups such as non-governmental organizations and private enterprises
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