SOCIAL REPRESENTATIONS OF NATURE IN OBO NATURAL PARK
Mireia Boya Busquet
Faculty of Humanities, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona
Since the beginning of the 1990s, Integrated Conservation and Development Projects have offered a functional model of sustainable development for specific sites within the perspective of particular projects. Their goal has been to integrate biological aspects of conservation to the social and economic aspects of development.
Protected areas represent a particular vision of the relationship between man and nature, appeared in the American context with the creation of the first national parks. Currently, the wish to involve the population in the creation of protected areas faces the challenge of reconciling the management of these spaces with the local practices, needs and interests.
Obô Natural Park, which occupies 30% of the territory of Sao Tome and Principe, follows the difficult process of integrating both local uses and representations of nature to the global objectives of conservationist policies while considering the touristic and economic interests of local and foreign investors.
Social representations of nature, understood as a form of practical knowledge, determine the vision of the world and the relationship that a particular social group may have with its territory. Thus, based on this system, each community has its own mechanisms of environmental adaptation. In the case of the Saotomean communities, nature presents a strong spiritual (associated with beliefs, rituals and traditional medical practices) and utilitarian character (nature provides, through farming, collecting or hunting, all you need to live).
The aim of this thesis is to understand the synergies between endogenous knowledge and management of biodiversity to adapt the land management process to the reality of the people who live in the particular territory of Sao Tome and Principe.
For this purpose, this research project analysed different, social groups and the social relations between them; We also analysed the different ways of access and management of resources and territory (agriculture, breeding, hunting, collecting, building, medicine, tourism, spirituality, etc.). Qualitative methodologies are the heart of a process to discover the idea of nature of Saotomean groups (women, kids, agricultors, politicians, etc.).
We want to show the major results of this research, focusing in the idea of nature who had the children living near the Obo Natural Park.
Keywords: integrated conservation and development projects, traditional ecological knowledge, social representations, biological diversity, São Tomé and Principe
Biography note: Ph.D Environmental Design pela Universidade de Montreal (2009). Seu doutorado trata dos processos participativos de conservação integrada ao desenvolvimento e das representações sociais da natureza, no Parque natural Obô de São Tomé e Príncipe. Actualmente é consultora independente em questões de desenvolvimento local, turismo e gestão da paisagem, professora associada da Universidade Pompeu Fabra, em Barcelona, e pesquisadora do Instituto de Estudos Territoriais da mesma universidade.