Market integration does not affect traditional ecological knowledge but contributes additional pressure on plant resources

ABSTRACT Market integration can affect the manner in which individuals learn about and use natural resources. The present study explores the influence of market integration on the traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and use of natural resources in handicraft production among the Fulni-ô indigenous people of Northeast Brazil. We collect data from 67 artisans about their traditional and non-traditional handicrafts, which are mainly produced for external trade demand (our proxy for market integration). Data regarding the distribution of knowledge among different segments of the population, according to socioeconomic variables, and the comparison of plant biomass used for traditional and non-traditional handicrafts, reveals that integration does not affect the distribution of TEK but leads to a higher consumption of native plant resources, which can negatively affect the populations of the species used. The present findings indicate a future scenario of the replacement of TEK with knowledge that yields higher economic returns. The most experienced artisans have greater traditional ecological knowledge of traditional handicrafts and can play a fundamental role in maintaining traditional knowledge in the context of market integration. Finally, temporal evaluation studies in particular are needed to better understand changes in knowledge derived from market integration.