Knitting for conservation : A social practice perspective on a social and behaviour change communication intervention

Gallegos, Maria Cristina; Buizer, Marleen; Hobbis, Stephanie Ketterer; Wise, Graham


We critically reflect on a conservation project in the Ecuadorian Amazon that was designed to promote biodiversity conservation among lowland indigenous communities involved in eco-tourism initiatives by teaching them how to knit a particular set of local animals. We use interpretive qualitative research and draw on social practice theory to examine the ways that participants’ engagement with new knitting in participatory knitting workshops changed the understanding of environmental conservation and social entrepreneurship within an eco-tourism context. Eventually, the intervention pushed participants to adopt new and difficult-to-sustain conservation and entrepreneurial practices. The introduction of these new practices and a focus on a specific list of local species turned animals into commodities and created unsustainable connections with new materials and a disconnect between local and traditional know-how.