Sarah-Lan Mathez-Stiefel



Email to Sarah-Lan Mathez-Stiefel


Website Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern

Sarah-Lan Mathez-Stiefel, PhD


Senior Research Scientist


Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern















Research Projects

  • Mathez-Stiefel, Sarah-Lan. 2011. "Ethnobiological Knowledge and its Transformation in the Andean Highlands: Case Studies from Peru and Bolivia." PhD dissertation in Human Geography. University of Bern. 308 p.
  • Stiefel, Sarah-Lan. 2001. “Uses and Representations of Wild Plants by the Inhabitants of the Manongarivo Reserve, Northwest Madagascar.” Masters thesis in Ethnology and Botany. University of Neuchâtel. 205 p.

Areas of expertise and research interests

  • Indigenous environmental knowledge
  • ethnomedicine
  • biocultural diversity
  • nature conservation
  • social learning processes

Work experience in the following countries

  • Peru
  • Bolivia
  • Madagascar
  • Mozambique
  • (also Ecuador, Belize, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia)


  • PhD, University of Bern (Human Geography)
  • MA, University of Neuchâtel (Ethnology and Biology)



  • Mathez-Stiefel S.-L., Brandt R., Lachmuth S.,and Rist S., in preparation. “Transformation of Andean medicinal knowledge and local perceptions of change in the Andes.” [submitted]
  • Mathez-Stiefel S.-L., Vandebroek I., and Rist S., in preparation. “Can Andean medicine coexist with biomedical healthcare? Comparison between two rural communities in Peru and Bolivia.” [submitted]
  • Boillat, S., Mathez-Stiefel S.-L., and Rist, S., in preparation. “Land use, environmental knowledge, institutions, worldviews and ecosystem diversity: An expression of the dynamics of biocultural diversity in the Bolivian Andes." [submitted]
  • Mathez-Stiefel S.-L. and Vandebroek I., 2012. “Distribution and transmission of medicinal plant knowledge in the Andean highlands: a case study from Peru and Bolivia.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Special Issue on Medical Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology in Latin America.
  • Rist S., Boillat S., Gerritsen P.R.W., Schneider F., Mathez-Stiefel S.-L., Tapia N. 2011. “Endogenous knowledge: Implications for sustainable development.” In: Wiesmann U., Hurni H., editors; with an international group of co-editors. Research for Sustainable Development. Foundations, Experiences, and Perspectives. Perspectives of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) North-South, University of Bern, Vol. 6. Bern, Switzerland: Geographica Bernensia. [in press]
  • Mariscal J.C. and Mathez-Stiefel S.-L. 2010. “Fortaleciendo la soberanía alimentaria mediante la revalorización de saberes ecológicos locales: experiencias en los Andes bolivianos.” Etnobiología (vol.8), p.75-89
  • Boillat S., Alca Castillo J., Álvarez A., Bottazzi P., Ponce Camacho D., Serrano E., Biffi V., Mathez-Stiefel S.-L., Larsen P.B., Rist S. 2010: “Protected areas and indigenous peoples in Bolivia and Peru: Dilemmas, conflicts and ways out.” in: Hurni H., Wiesmann U., editors, with an international group of co-editors. Global Change and Sustainable Development: A Synthesis of Regional Experiences from Research Partnerships. Perspectives of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) North-South, University of Berne, Vol. 5. Berne: Geographica Bernensia, p. 501-515.


  • Rist S. and Mathez-Stiefel S.-L. 2012. Reflexiones Sobre la Valoración de la Diversidad Biocultural – Aprendizajes y Experiencias del Programa Regional BioAndes. Berne and Cochabamba. CDE-AGRUCO. xxx p. [forthcoming]
  • Casana R. and Mathez-Stiefel S.-L. 2011. “Reforestando los bosques de huarango: una contribución a la restauración del paisaje cultural y natural de la costa peruana.” LEISA Revista de Agroecología. Vol. 27 (2) June 2011. p. 19-20.
  • Mathez-Stiefel S.-L., Gianella C., and Rist S. 2011. “Abriendo nuevas perspectivas para la juventud campesina de los -Andes a través de la valorización de productos de la agrobiodiversidad.” LEISA Revista de Agroecología. Vol. 27 (1) April 2011. p. 34-38.
  • Mathez-Stiefel S.-L., Gianella Malca C., and Rist S. 2009: “Valorisation of agrobiodiversity products and strengthening of local identities in the Peruvian Andes: Experiences from the BioAndes Programme.” Proceedings of the seminar: Localizing Products: A Sustainable Approach for Natural and Cultural Diversity in the South? Paris, France.
  • Rist S., Mathez-Stiefel S.-L. and Bachmann F. 2009: “Promoting Local Innovation (PLI) – A Tool for Promoting Local Innovation and Sustainable Rural Development.” In: Christinck A., Gerster-Bentaya M., Hoffmann V. and Lemma M., editors. Handbook for Rural Extension Vollume II. Weikersheim: Margraf Publishers. p. 354-365
  • Mathez-Stiefel S.-L. and Rist S. 2008: "Diversidad biocultural y de zonas bioculturales“ in: Biodiversidad y Cultura en los Andes 1 (December 2008). Cochabamba: AGRUCO, p. 20-22.
  • Mathez-Stiefel S.-L., Boillat S. and Rist S. 2007: “Promoting the Diversity of Worldviews: An Ontological Approach to Biocultural Diversity” in: Haverkort B. and Rist S. (eds). Endogenous Development and Biocultural Diversity: The Interplay of Worldviews, Globalization and Locality. COMPAS series on Worldviews and Sciences Nr. 6. Leusden: COMPAS and CDE, p. 67-8.
  • Mathez-Stiefel S.-L. and Rist S. 2007: “Maintaining bio-cultural diversity in the Andes”. Mountain Forum Bulletin. January 2007, p. 13-15.
  • Mathez-Stiefel S.-L. and Couto M. 2006: “Linking Applied Ethnobotany to Social Learning: A Participatory Tool for the Promotion of Indigenous Plants Use in Matutuíne, Southern Mozambique”, in: Ertug F. Z. (ed.), Proceedings of the IVth International Congress of Ethnobotany (ICEB 2005), p. 517-522.
  • Mathez-Stiefel S.-L. 2003: “Taste and Plants: Folk Classifications of Medicinal Plants in North-Western Madagascar”, in: Proceedings of the Third International Congress of Ethnobotany (Etnobotanica Napoli 2001), Delpinoa vol.45, p. 269-272.


  • Executive Director, A Rocha Peru (Peruvian non-governmental nature conservation organization, member of A Rocha International)
  • Board Member, Central and South Americas & the Caribbean Representative for the period 2010-2012, International Society of Ethnobiology
  • Member of the Latin-American Society of Ethnobiology
  • Lecturer of the module on "Ethnoecology and Ethnobotany", Masters in “Agroecología, Cultura y Desarrollo Endógeno en América Latina.”. AGRUCO, Universidad Mayor San Simón de Cochabamba, Bolivia.
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