Local and Traditional Knowledge. Sustainable Waterfowl Management from Viking Age Iceland. Tom McGovern

Tom McGovern presents the Faroe Islands as an anthropogenic landscape which, though harsh and desolate, offers encouraging lessons about the potential of human behavior. Inhabited by Vikings since approximately 600 AD, the islands host an abundant, but fragile resource, puffins, flightless birds that nest on rocky exposed cliffs which are in easy range of the islanders other prime food source, pigs. Analysis of the bones of pigs and puffins, consideration of place names and remnant walls of structures built to protect them, suggest he says, a society that managed to share their commons on a millennial time scale. He similarly reports on how the presence of duck shells, but absence of duck bones, suggests successful long-term sustainable management of another important resource.

Tom McGovern has done archeological fieldwork since 1972 in the UK, Norway, France, the Caribbean, and NE US, but his main research work has been in the North Atlantic (Greenland, Iceland, Faeroes, and Shetland). McGovern was one of the founders of the North Atlantic Biocultural Organization (NABO, www.nabohome.org) with initial NSF support in 1992, and has served as NABO coordinator down to the present.

July 24, 2014