Monday, 7 March 2016

Attuning local and scientific knowledge in the context of global change: The case of heather honey production in southern France

Volume 44, April 2016, Pages 132–142


This paper addresses the assumption that combining scientific and traditional knowledge is a promising means to elaborate alternative ways of adapting to ongoing changes that are compatible with local values and priorities. To do this, we analyze a case study of the production of heather honey in southern France. Production of this very particular type of honey, which was formerly massively exported to Germany, has dramatically declined over the two last decades. In this study, we examined the respective views of different stakeholders — beekeepers producing heather honey, specialists of heather honey production, scientists — about the specific environmental, economic and social drivers of this decline in the sector of Mont Lozère, an important region of heather honey production located in the heart of the Cevennes National Park in southern France. From our results, we conclude that information held by these three groups of stakeholders is congruent and complementary. Together, their perspectives provide a more coherent picture of the drivers of change affecting the production of heather honey than any of the perspectives taken alone. We suggest that the consilience of these distinct kinds of expertise can foster the rehabilitation of this particular honey, whose production can provide benefits that are not only economic and ecological, but also in terms of perpetuating a biocultural heritage.


  • Heather honey
  • Environmental change
  • Local ecological knowledge
  • Community-based conservation
Corresponding author.
Ameline Lehébel-Péron and Pauline Sidawy contributed equally to this work and are considered as joint first authors.