The relevance of indigenous knowledge in conserving natural forests in the face of modernisation: The case of Makete District, Southern Highlands of Tanzania

  • Faraja Sanga Ruaha Catholic University
Keywords: Indigenous knowledge, Indigenous people, Modernisation, Forest conservation, Natural forest


In pre-colonial Africa, Indigenous Knowledge (IK) was very effective in conserving natural forests because it was free from the current challenges. Therefore, this paper assesses effectiveness and sustainability of IK in conserving natural forests. It also examines the impact of modernisation on IK. The study employed mixed research methods to triangulate information. Thus, the data were collected through in-depth interview, Focus Group Discussions (FGDs), field observation and household survey. The study composed of 242 respondents, of whom 88 respondents participated in in-depth interview and FGDs, whereas 154 respondents participated in a household survey. The study found that IK lost its power hence affecting its effectiveness in conserving natural forests. Modernisation and missionary religion played a central role in weakening the power of IK. It was further found that the relevance and sustainability of IK was questionable because IK faces many challenges, which threaten its existence. Therefore, the study recommends that to ensure the sustainability of IK, there is a need for elders to transfer IK to young generation based on the local environment. It is also imperative for the government to take part in conserving forests owned by clans. This is because IK has lost the power, which contributed in conserving natural forests.