Bridging Knowledge Systems: A Community-Participatory Approach to EcoHealth

Earth’s life-supporting ecosystems are integral to human and planetary health. Ecosystem services connect ecosystem functions to human well-being. The complex, multifaceted socio-ecological challenges of ecosystem decline necessitate a transdisciplinary approach, including the active and meaningful engagement and participation of local communities. Communities uniquely possess expert local knowledge, which, when integrated into policy development and community planning, has the potential to enhance and sustain ecosystem benefits for health and wellbeing. Community-informed mapping tools provide an opportunity for integrating science, policy, and public participation in data collection. However, there is a dearth of community-informed mapping tools demonstrating the interconnection of the ecological and social determinants of health at a place-based level.

This paper presents a study that employs a community-based participatory research approach to mapping local knowledge systems on EcoHealth. The study seeks to develop a community mapping tool for shared dialogue and decision-making on EcoHealth between local communities and policymakers. The participatory research methods used to explore community awareness and knowledge regarding ecosystem services, health, and sustainability in the local area are described. The process of co-producing a Community EcoHealth Toolkit, based on the integration of different knowledge systems into local policy and planning, is discussed.

Language: English

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