Traditional Conservation for a Sustainable Future
Philosophy that influence Native Conservation
According to many indigenous peoples' core belief, every natural thing on earth has a living energy.
Things that are considered non-living by western science are alive. Such things as stones and water are alive and are inter connected with each another.
All non-humans, such as swamps, creeks and rivers have energies that make them unique. These energies are responsible for their well-being and humans should take this into consideration when dealing with the natural environment. Indigenous people observe the behaviour of nature, respect that behaviour and work with it.
In traditional indigenous conservation, preserving the right balance between man and nature is more important than anything else.
If we are to fully understand the importance of conservation done by indigenous peoples, then the job of education has to come from indigenous peoples themselves. Generally, management techniques come from inside communities and are very practical. Many of these might be unique only to distinctive communities which is why there might be unique conservation practices for preserving unique places where communities live.
Learning from other indigenous peoples who live in similar environment has enabled communities to survive, just as well as their neighbours. On this level, indigenous people tend to acknowledge and respect the presence of other communities within their geographical area and region.
In today's world of climate change, some indigenous people believe that people from all backgrounds need to help conserve and preserve and that non-traditional conservation techniques can complement traditional ones and vice-versa. This is where indigenous and non-indigenous people can co-operate and work together.
Indigenous Knowledge and its Importance in Forest Preservation
Keeping the environment as alive and healthy as possible is important for its preservation and is an integral part of any forest community. Everyday necessities, including medicine and materials for utility crafts come from the natural environment, so people observe their surroundings closely when it comes to using it.
Handing down the wisdom is done through passing knowledge from one generation to the other, which is why there are practical ways and means to do so. Because knowledge is under threat, some native peoples now have immersion schools where the younger generation learn the traditional ways. This type of education can help children follow a path that would benefit both indigenous and non-indigenous communities.
Appreciating Trees & Plants is the beginning of Indigenous Peoples' Forest Preservation Techniques
Knowing and respecting trees and plants for the jobs they do, help in learning how to preserve the forest.
Plants and trees are providers and sustain many ecosystems. It takes years to learn their uses and people learn from passed down knowledge, as well as through their own experiences.
The land is one giant resource pool that holds many secrets - discovered and waiting to be discovered.
It is important to know which trees and plants will grow readily and those that are rare and will take a long time to return if destroyed. When clearing land to be used, trees and plants are assessed. Some are allowed to stay, while those that are cleared would be common and not under threat of never returning.
Cultural Practices and Preservation
Though some aspects of Amazonian culture such as the languages spoken can differ vastly, what is common is the close connection people have with the natural world.
Foods such as cassava bread is a common staple on which lots of people depend. It's because of the foods that the forest and surrounding environs provide that people value their surroundings.
Practices such as kaiaping (where people come together to help to do a common job) enable forest communities, and in turn enable cohesion that work for the environment. It is a very handy system. No money is paid, but there is an exchange of food and drink for work and good company.
Land for cultivating, as well as for harvesting needed resources is very important to the community. Waterways are important for travel and to get much needed proteins such as fish and shrimp. The natural environment has a calming, as well as uplifting effect, so it is also part of spiritual sustenance. With all these in mind, communities value and take care of nature.
Using traditional medicine for healing is one way of realising the importance of preserving the forest. It also avoids dependency on western medicine. Many traditional medical practitioners have good reputations.
A hunter would have years of experience, as well as a wealth of knowledge of how animals use the forest, so would be involved in trying to keep the forest too.
Moraro's Working Plan
Conserving Natural Resources
On line resources
On line resources
On line Resources
On line Resources
Building & Utility
On line Resources
Sustainable Practice ... Fishing
The Kingfisher and indigenous peoples' methods of fishing have one commonality - they are sustainable. No fish is wasted and there is always fish for tomorrow.
Traditional, lowland indigenous peoples of South America often fish daily and tend to fish only for the family and other vulnerable members of the community e.g. the elderly. Sometimes fish is preserved for future use, but fresh fish is always preferred. An advantage of daily fishing is that the catch is at its freshest and there is more for the next day.
One important sustainable way to fish is to use a cell-type fish trap. Fish traps have been used for many, many moons now and are still used today. A trap is usually set in nearby water, within walking or paddling distance from the home and is normally checked for fish on a daily basis.
Depending on the area, traps can be of different designs. One type of trap used in shallow water is made of cane and the lure to the trap is termite or wood-ants. Where there is a rise and fall of the tide, a water pen made of palm, with roasted corn as the lure is usually used.
A flooded plain fish-trap
This trap is set in shallow water and is woven like a basket (see above) with openings, big enough for small fish to escape. The lure which is the live termite nest, is placed in the basket. A weight is also put in to prevent the trap from floating away and to keep the opening below the water. The mouth of the trap is wide, so fish can swim in. A thick covering of water weeds is placed on top, so as to disguise the trap and to encourage fish to enter.
The wait begins until it is time to check the trap for fish.
Rain-forest Buildings ... Environment Friendly Designs
Since indigenous peoples started building, they have used materials from surrounding areas; for roofing and walling as well as for flooring.
Building designs have changed but what has remained largely constant is sourcing materials from the local surroundings. Reaping materials never deplete forests to the extent where they cannot recover because care is taken when reaping, and reaping is done according to the seasonal cycle.
Reaping leaves for thatch, is only done when the leaves are matured and hardy. Thatch is traditionally reaped according to the phase of the moon. Lowland buildings would be thatched with the troolie palm (Manicaria saccifera).
Thatching from other types of palms are also used. Kokorite (Attalea maripa), Ita and Dalibana are also used as thatch.
~ Chief Luther Standing Bear explains - Homes and connection to the Land
There is a road in the hearts of all of us, hidden and seldom travelled, which leads to an unknown, secret place.
The old people came literally to love the soil, and they sat or reclined on the ground with a feeling of being close to a mothering power.
Their teepees were built upon the earth and their altars were made of earth. The soul was soothing, strengthening, cleansing and healing.
That is why the old Indian still sits upon the earth instead of propping himself up and away from its life giving forces. For him, to sit or lie upon the ground is to be able to think more deeply and to feel more keenly. He can see more clearly into the mysteries of life and come closer in kinship to other lives about him.
Bio-crafts are 100% bio-degradable with little or no harm done to the environment whatsoever in their making.
Traditional peoples know how and when to harvest materials without destroying the source and harming the environment beyond recovery. When bio-crafts cannot be used any longer, they are returned to the earth to be broken down. They are simply thrown away or discarded.
All traditional utility crafts were originally created from natural materials reaped from the surroundings. Materials like wood, clay, straw, or cane. Weaving and carving to make bio-crafts demand skilled crafts men and women.
Canoe making is very much a part of the happenings in communities that use water as a means of transportation.
Though it is a specialist area, the techniques are readily available to those interested in learning the craft. Learning by observation and practising is done by apprenticing to a known canoe maker.
Canoes come in different sizes. A traditional family canoe is made to carry an entire family.
It takes a lot of people to pull a canoe from the back-lands. Anyone can help. After the task is done there would be refreshing drink and food to look forward to.
Sustainable Use of Coastal Mangrove Swamps
The mangrove, swamp crab season is during the hot, dry August period. Rich swamp-lands of the coast help to preserve inland and further beyond, due to the extensive growth of mangrove. The swamp is also home to some of the most delicious crabs that can be found anywhere.
Like people elsewhere, indigenous people safeguard their food source. Unlike ‘outside cultures’ they tend to share resources of the extensive surrounding area and do not claim area resources to be exploited for only selected groups within the population.
It is believed that resources should be for the health and benefit of all the people. These resources are usually kept free of human pollution such as great amounts of human waste.
Mangrove swamps have been used by Lokono, Warrau and Carib peoples for centuries.
Traditionally, crabs are harvested when they are in season. They taste best and are easier to harvest at that time. Crabs not in season go down in their burrows, in the soft mud and it is most difficult to get at them. The out-of-season crab is soft and not as delicious. However in-season crabs are big, clumsy, plentiful and tasty. They are slow and so only have to be picked up sometimes. One Lokono elder described this best, “When the crab season is truly right, the moon is in the right position, the sea foams and crabs just demand to be picked up. They are too many. They give themselves to the catcher.”
Luckily, the crab season only lasts for a few days within the long, annual, dry season and mosquitoes and sand flies are fewer during this time.
Fortunately also, indigenous peoples tend to eat seasonally. Their taste is developed to appreciate most foods only when they are fully ripe which most likely would be when they are in season. After the yearly harvest, crabs would be left alone until the next season. The mangrove swamp lands also would be left alone to recover from their trampling, until the next crab season.
With their love and appreciation for good, wholesome crab meat, indigenous people ensure the
mangroves are preserved with their important population of very delicious crabs for many seasons to come.