Stories from forest, river and mountain : exploring children's cultural environmental narratives and their role in the transmission of cultural connection to and protection of biodiversity

Alexander, Jamie Kim (2011) Stories from forest, river and mountain : exploring children's cultural environmental narratives and their role in the transmission of cultural connection to and protection of biodiversity. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




Preservationist conservation created a legacy of national parks and protected areas that were surrounded by local people dispossessed of their land and denied the rights to use the resources they had previously relied upon. Although conservation is now shifting towards a more participatory approach, research gaps still exist in determining the meaning of ‘the environment’ and the role of local means of conservation in rural communities in South Africa. This study focused on children’s cultural environmental narratives from two rural villages in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Children from grades 4, 7 and 10 were involved in the study, and adult family members, local experts and village elders were included in the study to allow for comparison between children’s and adult’s narratives and to realise what Local Ecological Knowledge (LEK) was being passed on. This thesis considers children’s use of the environment for play and their sense of place as key methods in ascertaining children’s environmental narratives and perceptions. At both field sites, local experts and community elders possessed a wealth of cultural environmental narratives, but these narratives were not necessarily being passed on. Changing household structures and other socio-economic factors influence cultural environmental practices, which in turn have an impact on the cultural environmental narratives being passed down. In many cases, parents’ safety fears strongly impacted upon children’s access to the environment, resulting in gendered environmental knowledge. The study compared differing vegetation types and degrees of environmental access. The differing environments produced similar cultural environmental narratives, leading to new understandings in community environment relationships. Children living near the state administered forest had significantly less environmental knowledge, bringing about questions of sustainable bio-cultural diversity in the future. The recognition of cultural environmental values is especially important in the rural areas of South Africa, where unemployment and increased poverty levels have led to greater dependence on natural resources for social, economic and cultural purposes. It is proposed that local cultural environmental narratives and landscape perceptions be included into community conservation and environmental education policies and programmes to provide local solutions to the problem of biodiversity conservation in local contexts.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Environmental education, Ecology, Oral tradition
Subjects:H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Divisions:Research Institutes and Units > Institute for the Study of English in Africa (ISEA)
ID Code:2542
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:02 Apr 2012 14:41
Last Modified:02 Apr 2012 14:41
16 full-text download(s) since 02 Apr 2012 14:41
16 full-text download(s) in the past 12 months
More statistics...

Repository Staff Only: item control page