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Thread: Native peoples save forests.

  1. #1 Native peoples save forests. 
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    Reference : New Scientist, 2 August 2014, page 14

    When governments pass ownership of forests to the native peoples who have lived in them, and used them for food and other resources, they are saved from being cut down. A number of experiences in this have shown that native peoples are much better at conservation and preventing deforestation than governments are. Native peoples are better as wardens to stop poachers, and better at preventing illegal logging. Native peoples rarely cut down the forests themselves for financial return, since their minds and cultures are focussed on using the forest as it stands, instead of trying to extract money.

    The idea of the 'tragedy of the commons' fails here. Communal ownership of forests by tribes, who talk to each other, results in excellent management and conservation.

    The data implies that governments should pass ownership back to native peoples, and in doing so they preserve forests, biodiversity and sequester carbon.


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  3. #2  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    We know that Native Americans have lived in North America for well over 20,000 years. When the white people came to America 300 years ago they didn't find pollution, deforestation, chemical wastes, garbage dumps and a host of other things that we have all around us today. They lived with mother earth and tried to help it more than harm it. It is to bad they still weren't here to maintain the processes of proper land management because we are not doing so.

    To bad the whites couldn't learn from the Native Americans but they committed genocide against them nearly wiping them all out. Whites did not want to be shown what the Natives knew but only wanted to rape and pillage the land for their own benefits. Now we have nothing but polluted skies, water and lands everywhere and it isn't getting any better.


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    But when you think about it are not tribes simply local governments?
    I agree with the idea that local governments have a tendency to be more concerned with maintaining the sources of income they get from the forests, but somehow I suspect the same might be true for most local governments handling local resources. (edit: not just tribal governments and not just forests)

    I live in an area that has a large relative income from touristry as well as some resource extraction and sometimes the council meetings can get pretty interesting.
    One little town here has a battle going on with the provincial government over the development of an electric dam on the river in their town. It is a fairly scenic set of small falls that has been a minor tourist attraction for generations of people. The provincially favoured plan to build a hydroelectric dam at that point would wipe the falls out as a tourism site.
    Of course the business owners who rely on the tourist trade are vigorously opposed to the whole damn dam plan.

    That local governments are generally more conservative about resource managment is something that I would like to see a study on before I went announcing it as a fact though.
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    As far as I can see, it appears as though, when a native people first move into a new area, they do terrible damage. Just think of the more than 100 species of megafauna that went extinct after the aboriginees reached Australia. However, after a while, things settle down, and the native people, as long as they do not change their methods of exploiting nature, remain in some kind of harmony with the new ecological balance that was set up after they arrived.

    The reason modern humans do more changing of ecosystems is that they are themselves constantly changing. New technologies, and ways of earning a living. Nature does not have time to establish a new and constant balance.
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  6. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    ... However, after a while, things settle down, and the native people, as long as they do not change their methods of exploiting nature, remain in some kind of harmony with the new ecological balance that was set up after they arrived. ....
    Maybe, but I think also the small local organizations don't have the option of just moving on to a new spot after they wreck the old one, so they have no option except taking care of the area they are in.
    Large governments and large corporations have always been able to clearcut a forest, or fish-out a fishery and then just move on to the next best location until the area they just stripped recovers and they can do it again.
    Only recently has that changed much and that is just because they are running out of next best places to move to.
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  7. #6  
    Life-Size Nanoputian Flick Montana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmictraveler View Post
    We know that Native Americans have lived in North America for well over 20,000 years. When the white people came to America 300 years ago they didn't find pollution, deforestation, chemical wastes, garbage dumps and a host of other things that we have all around us today. They lived with mother earth and tried to help it more than harm it. It is to bad they still weren't here to maintain the processes of proper land management because we are not doing so.
    That isn't entirely true. As someone who studies lake cores near Amerindian settlements, I can tell you there are definite markers of habitation from increased runoff due to agriculture, pollution from concentrations of humans, and charcoal from slash and burn clearance. The native people were not the environmentalists we have romanticized them to be. By contrast with the Europeans, they simply didn't have the technology to be as destructive.

    Recommended reading: The Pristine Myth: The Landscape of the Americas in 1942.
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    Or it could have been they didn't want the technology to destroy their habitats any more than they had to.
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    CT

    It is probable that the first humans in America did terrible damage to their environment. Despite the theories of politically correct idiots, it is extremely unlikely that the extinctions of large mammals immediately after the arrival of humans had anything to do with climate change. After all, those species survived through about 10 glacial and interglacial periods with massive climate change, and only died out when humans arrived. Also note that this happened in North America, Australia, New Zealand, across the Pacific, across the Caribbean, and in Ireland. Human arrival means mass extinctions. The only reason we have not seen it in Africa, Europe and Asia is that human (or pre-human) arrival happened so long ago, and the changes are now hidden by time.

    We see the same pattern all over the world. A pristine environment exists until humans arrive, be they ever so primitive. After human arrival, mass extinctions occur till a new ecological balance develops, which includes human presence. It is not, in my ever so humble opinion, humans who adapt to nature. It is nature which does the adapting, in the most ruthless way possible, by permitting all species unable to tolerate human presence, to become extinct.
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    Just to illustrate the degree of biodiversity loss we're facing, let’s take you through one scientific analysis...

    • The rapid loss of species we are seeing today is estimated by experts to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than thenatural extinction rate.*
    • These experts calculate that between 0.01 and 0.1% of all species will become extinct each year.
    • If the low estimate of the number of species out there is true - i.e. that there are around 2 million different species on our planet** - then that means between 200 and 2,000 extinctions occur every year.
    • But if the upper estimate of species numbers is true - that there are 100 million different species co-existing with us on our planet - then between 10,000 and 100,000 species are becoming extinct each year.

    *Experts actually call this natural extinction rate the background extinction rate. This simply means the rate of species extinctions that would occur if we humans were not around.

    ** Between 1.4 and 1.8 million species have already been scientifically identified.

    Unlike the mass extinction events of geological history, the current extinction challenge is one for which a single species - ours - appears to be almost wholly responsible.



    This is often referred to as the 6th extinction crisis, after the 5 known extinction waves in geological history.

    So without arguing about who’s right or wrong.

    Or what the exact numbers are.

    There can be little debate that there is, in fact, a very serious biodiversity crisis.


    https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=...nWkNmgEfSiO77Q
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  11. #10  
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    Returning to reality, no one, expert or otherwise, knows how many species go extinct each year.

    We can count the ones that we know once existed, and now do not. That number is imprecise, but falls in the range of 10 to 20 per year. They are the only extinctions we can be sure of. They are not the only extinctions, of course. There will be a number of other extinctions, which consist of inconspicuous species that die out without anyone noticing. Anyone who tries to estimate the number of such extinctions is engaging in guesswork, and those guesses are based on uncertain assumptions. I am aware of a technique which operates on the assumption that the main cause of extinctions is habitat loss, and it uses a number of other assumptions to calculate how many species go extinct for every 1000 square kilmetres of habitat lost. That technique often comes up with enormous estimates, depending on which assumptions are used, but it is still no more than guesswork.

    To put it bluntly, your guess is as good as mine, and both are every bit as good as that of any so-called expert you care to name. We just do not know.
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  12. #11  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Perhaps the media has cultivated a false image of the North American Indian. Personally I agree with Skeptic, they're people just like anyone else. They show up and things change for the worse until a balance is formed with nature. I thought Flick's use of the word romanticized was wonderful. I don't think Indian villages were the neat little idyllic parcel of tepees Hollywood would have you believe existed nor do I believe they dwelled in a neat & hygienic environment.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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  13. #12  
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    This sounds like the "noble savage" fallacy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dan hunter View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    ... However, after a while, things settle down, and the native people, as long as they do not change their methods of exploiting nature, remain in some kind of harmony with the new ecological balance that was set up after they arrived. ....
    Maybe, but I think also the small local organizations don't have the option of just moving on to a new spot after they wreck the old one, so they have no option except taking care of the area they are in.
    Large governments and large corporations have always been able to clearcut a forest, or fish-out a fishery and then just move on to the next best location until the area they just stripped recovers and they can do it again.
    Only recently has that changed much and that is just because they are running out of next best places to move to.
    (Nods). The ability of even small communities to monitor what's happening to their environment often allows them better choices--though it can still backfire. For example, up here in WA state the tribes are fighting against a series of legal actions, supported by science that show fish hatcheries often dilute the genetics and dramatically reduce wild fish stocks-- in reality as long as salmon are returning they really don't care if it's wild fish or hatchery fish returning--in fact it wouldn't matter if a river's wild strain went extinct. They are often just as vulnerable to short termed thinking as large groups.
    --
    Don't think the topic has much to do with native impacts from several centuries ago--though for the most part I'd agree the their "natural state" is heavy romanticized. Native Americans almost certainly caused continent wide mass extinction event and actively practiced massive clearing by cutting/burning/girlding etc (heck one reason New England was considered divine providence by Europeans was because much of the land was already cleared but now depopulated--unknown to them by recent by massive plagues).
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  15. #14  
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    I don't think Indian villages were the neat little idyllic parcel of tepees Hollywood would have you believe existed nor do I believe they dwelled in a neat & hygienic environment.
    Some of their cities (at least the Indiana Mississippian cities I'm familiar with) were positively massive compared to what most people envisage when they think of Amerindians. What we have in North America is even dwarfed by what was going on farther south in terms of scale.

    That having been said, there is something to say for the foresight of certain peoples. Our modern notion of engineering our way out of every problem is not one I foresee as sustainable. Working within the confines of a natural cycle seems to be the best way to maintain environmental health for the long term. Unfortunately, that doesn't go hand in hand with feeding, clothing, and sheltering a burgeoning population of humans. We're heading toward the climax, I fear. Something's got to give.
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    As I have said before, Flick, our 'burgeoning population' is actually and very dramatically slowing its growth. We can expect (best estimate from the United Nations) a maximum population of about 10 billion. As a percentage, and compared to 20th century growth, that is a tiny increase over today's 7 billion.

    The main reason that modern humans continue to change natural ecosystems is that modern humans keep changing our way of life. Native peoples may have been, like Australian aboriginals, living much the same way for tens of thousands of years, which allows them to come into a kind of balance with their local ecosystems. Not so today. The reason native peoples are so often better guardians of the lands and forests than governments is that they are alreadsy in a balance, and they have very selfish reasons for fighting to keep that balance.
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  17. #16  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    As I have said before, Flick, our 'burgeoning population' is actually and very dramatically slowing its growth.
    In what part of the world? The first world is hardly representative. We are struggling to feed growing nations in poverty which are not adequately supporting their own agricultural needs.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    We can expect (best estimate from the United Nations) a maximum population of about 10 billion. As a percentage, and compared to 20th century growth, that is a tiny increase over today's 7 billion.
    I don't know how 30% growth is tiny when we struggle with the people we've got now.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    The main reason that modern humans continue to change natural ecosystems is that modern humans keep changing our way of life. Native peoples may have been, like Australian aboriginals, living much the same way for tens of thousands of years, which allows them to come into a kind of balance with their local ecosystems. Not so today. The reason native peoples are so often better guardians of the lands and forests than governments is that they are alreadsy in a balance, and they have very selfish reasons for fighting to keep that balance.
    I don't know anything about aboriginals, but my entire point was that this balance or harmony with nature that we hear so much about is often not true. From megafaunal extinctions to slash and burn agriculture, many native populations were just as damaging to the environment as we are today. Their technology may have limited their impact, but I have not seen enough evidence to suggest to me that they were caretakers of the natural world. It was to them what it is to many of us today; resources.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sealeaf View Post
    This sounds like the "noble savage" fallacy.
    I would agree. The difference between how my ancestors lived and how a native person's ancestors lived was pretty minimal up until the last couple of centuries - a blink in human evolution. And if someone thinks natives all live in teepees and don't drive cars or have cell phones and Ipads or shop at Walmart like the rest of us, they are delusional.

    Living "in harmony with nature" means accepting forces that restrict population growth - things like famine, disease, high infant mortality, etc, and a certain amount of daily physical discomfort - how many people, native or otherwise, are voluntarily willing to do that if they don't have to?
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  19. #18  
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    Reduction in population growth rate is global. Some places have reverse population growth already. Some are still growing too fast. But overall, fertility is now 2.4 children per woman, which is just above the 2.1 that is replacement rate. Just 50 years ago, it was 5.5, so this is a dramatic drop.

    On the damage done by native peoples.
    As I said before, substantial damage, including many extinctions, is definitely true when a native population first moves into a new area. But after they have been there for a number of generations, and they have already made extinct all those species vulnerable to their excessive exploitation, a new balance is struck, and a degree of stability is the result.
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