INSTITUTO INTERDISCIPLINARIO DE CIENCIAS BASICAS
Unidad Ejecutora - UE
Traditional puesteros’ perceptions of biodiversity in semi-arid Southern Mendoza, Argentina
DURÁN, VÍCTOR; ZÁRATE, MARÍA SOL; GASCO, ALEJANDRA; LLANO, CARINA; REYNALS, ENRIQUE
JOURNAL OF ARID ENVIRONMENTS
ACADEMIC PRESS LTD-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD
Año: 2021 vol. 192
The relationship between nature and culture is conceived as a dialogue, not as a dichotomy. Sociocultural and ecological systems are linked, in which language encodes the foundations of collective knowledge in a way that is often untranslatable but inextricably links its speakers to their landscape and each other. We describe the social practices and ethnotaxonomic knowledge of traditional people living in the semi-arid south of Mendoza, Argentina (locally called puesteros) in order to understand their adaptations and resilience strategies and clarify the fundamental link between past and present traditional land use practices and cultural identity. We detail the dynamics that link inhabitants and the biophysical environment, partly because this community is threatened with exile by a large hydroelectric project. If it is built, it would significantly alter the biocultural ecosystem and reduce the cultural heritage of the puesteros. This case study combines participant observation and 12 in-depth interviews. The results show knowledge of 39 plant speciesused as construction, firewood, medicine, and toxins. The community shows a close attachment to this place, past and present, in terms of identity, cultural practices, and local knowledge of biodiversity and geographic features. Given the interaction between puesteros and the landscape, we refer to the place and interactions as an ecocultural keystone landscape. This deserves particular consideration in the face of large construction projects.