chapter  7
30 Pages

Searching for synthesis: integrating economic perspectives with those from other disciplines

ByBev Sithole, Peter Frost, Terrence S Veeman

At the interface of the nexus between people and plants, we have the discipline of ethnobotany. While, in the past, this discipline may have been dominated by biophysical scientists, Martin (1995) has firmly made the point that ethnobotany is a multidisciplinary subject, requiring expertise in botany, ethnopharmacology, anthropology, ecology, economics and linguistics. This book has focused on the economic issues related to valuing forests, and has made the point that valuation requires strong disciplinary skills in economics in order to avoid falling prey to numerous potential pitfalls (see ‘Importance of remaining observant and critical’ in Chapter 1). In Chapter 6 participatory approaches were discussed, drawing attention to the benefits of involving stakeholders in the research process

and of establishing the context within which valuation can be understood (see Figure 7.1). This chapter looks at the need for disciplinary integration (see the following section) and the difference between ‘multidisciplinary’ and ‘interdisciplinary’ (‘Multidisciplinarity or interdisciplinarity?’). It then reflects on the need for incorporating stakeholders in the research process (‘Incorporating stakeholders in the research agenda’). The concepts (‘Some concepts that promote interdisciplinarity’) and methods (‘Approaches and methods to foster interdisciplinarity’) that could possibly promote an interdisciplinary approach are also considered. Finally, this chapter examines the constraints to an interdisciplinary approach (‘Constraints to interdisciplinarity’).