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Gilbert Fritz
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In the Book Half Earth, E. O. Wilson calls for half of all the earth's land surface to be set a sided as a wildlife refuge. This would save biodiversity and ecosystem function before it is lost forever. He points out that we simply don't have enough knowledge to manage ecosystems and that before we even identify most species they will be forever lost. The book calls for the humility of realizing what we do not know.

Tending the wild, by Anderson, points out that California was not wild when the first European settlers showed up. The Natives had extensively modified the ecosystem, and without their care, most of the Californian bionomes are changing, many being taken over by a monoculture of Douglas Fir. They burned different patches on different cycles, pruned and harvested plants, thinned desired species and remove weeds, burnt debris that would have spread disease to their favored trees, and sowed the seeds of favored plants after burning, creating monospecies patches that were easier to harvest. In fact, not only did they change the ecosystem, but they "bred" individual species until they may be dependent on continuing cultivation. I can't summarize such an in depth book here; please read it if you are interested. In short, the Native People tended the nut forests just as we do with an orchard, and they tended the meadows as if they were Fukuoka style grain fields.

So, if we set aside half the earth, what happens to the native peoples, and, even more, what happens to the land they cared for? If it is true that most "wild" ecosystems were actually extensively modified "gardens" then they will change drastically once the native people are gone, possibly leaving the way open for extinctions and invasive species. Is the "wild" a cultural construct imposed by the invading Europeans? If so, what does this mean for conservation?

Can we truly be part of the environment? Or are we always doomed to be alien interlopers?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:
So, if we set aside half the earth, what happens to the native peoples, and, even more, what happens to the land they cared for?


Leave them alone. http://www.survivalinternational.org/tribes

Permaculturists aren't native peoples. We don't need to be in their lands.

 
Gilbert Fritz
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That's what I would think too. But then, how do we set aside half the earth? Many conservation areas have displaced tribes.

But more importantly, if our current wilds are actually dying gardens, should we just leave them alone? Or should we/ they resume tending them?

Instead of having Yosemite as a protected park, shouldn't we give it back to the Native tribes and let them tend it, or, failing that, tend it ourselves?
 
Nicole Alderman
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Another good question to ask is whether or not current-day indigenous people still know how to tend the land the way it was tended? Some, of course, do, such as the isolated peoples in South America--I would just leave them in the "conservation areas" and call it good.

But, what about natives here in the United States? So many have been relocated, lost their languages, and lost many of their stories and culture. Do they still know how to tend the ground as their ancestors did, or would they be fumbling around as much as the decedents of non-indigenous people? Even if they do know the traditional methods, what do we do if they want to innovate? Who's place is it to judge whether or not they are "authentic enough"? And, if we're able to live that much in harmony with nature via permaculture, should some be allowed to adopt the historical interactions with nature and live in those conservation areas?

It's a really complicated question. We deal with it up here in the Seattle area because, a bit south of Seattle, is an area called the South Puget Prairies where the natives here would burn and maintain a prairie and oak ecosystems, full of edible camas as well as some species that grow no where else (http://www.southsoundprairies.org/prescribed-fire/). But, without the frequent burnings, the prairies are turning into the Douglas fir forests found most everywhere west of the Cascades. You can see, in the below pictures, how the Douglas Fir forests butt right up against the prairies, which are still maintained by fir by park managers.



 
duane hennon
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do these currently "isolated tribes" in South America have the knowledge of their ancestors
according to new research the peoples of SA prior to European contact were civilized , lived
in large villages and managed a large collection of interconnected landscapes

the current "isolated" tribes seem like "Mad Max" post apocalyptic survivors
(the die-off due to disease was after all apocalyptic)
rather than remnants of a ancient lineage of hunter-gatherers
maybe they would enjoy some modern conveniences
why not let them decide

http://www.sciencealert.com/it-s-official-there-are-no-more-untouched-places-left-on-earth

It's official: there are no more 'untouched' places left on Earth
The pristine habitat is an illusion.

It's pretty clear that human society has left an indelible impression on the natural environment around us, with our impact on the planet even qualifying as a new geological epoch – but surely if you travelled far enough in search of an untouched, pure oasis, you could still find a natural sanctuary on Earth unsullied by the hands of humankind?

Nope. At least, not according to a new study, which trawled through decades of archaeological data and found that there are no remaining pristine places on Earth that are unaffected by human society and activity, and there probably hasn't been one for thousands of years.




 
Rufus Laggren
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> half

Not at all sure any arrangement where we draw arbitrary lines and make this side here and that side there would be sustainable in any way. "Grass is greener", profit to be made, can't keep me out, "I WANT"... Human beings in most historic societies go and take what they think they can get w/no thought for consequences. Don't see that changing. If you say "it's all one big happy family, not this side vs. that side", all I can say is that's not the way I've ever seen people operate.

I think real estate is more likely to be maintained "healthy" when there are "owners" on site who value it. That is also one of humanity's historic traits - get bonded to the land. Not as flashy or maybe as strong as the simple greed impulse but able to draw in larger numbers of people and thus (potentially) make for some real strength. It's also a more direct and easier project - stay at home and fix it. That's kinda pie-in-sky, too, but at least we're all in place (wherever) to get started any time we fee like it; no moving around.

But I guess "stay at home and fix stuff" doesn't have much romantic appeal. <g>


Rufus
 
David Livingston
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Firstly I do not think there is any place on the earth we have not f@@@@ with polution in some way . The question iis therefore how do we preserve what is left when it is a dynamic system that is changing anyway . Since as the pointed haired bosses of the ecosyetem most of us have difficulty managing a yard It will need some thought .
 
Nicole Alderman
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Rufus Laggren wrote:
I think real estate is more likely to be maintained "healthy" when there are "owners" on site who value it. That is also one of humanity's historic traits - get bonded to the land. Not as flashy or maybe as strong as the simple greed impulse but able to draw in larger numbers of people and thus (potentially) make for some real strength. It's also a more direct and easier project - stay at home and fix it. That's kinda pie-in-sky, too, but at least we're all in place (wherever) to get started any time we fee like it; no moving around.

But I guess "stay at home and fix stuff" doesn't have much romantic appeal. <g>
Rufus


I think it really depends on the land owner. There's a lot of property in my area that has protected wetlands on it. So, if you have--using myself as an example--a 5 acre plot, you could have 2 acres that protected wetlands. You own those protected wetlands and pay property taxes on them, but you're not supposed to do anything in them except the equivalent of birdwatching and walking on a few trails: no digging, no logging, no planting, no livestock, etc without a permit. It's pretty much exactly the same as having "wild areas" tended by owners who value it.

The people around me all HATE it. They hate not being able to stick a building or a horse where they want it. They want to put culverts in deeper to drain out the wetlands. They want to turn their wetlands into ponds and put goldfish in them. They dig ditches to drain their land and spray round-up in the wetland and dump horse poop straight into the stream. Many of them know a bit about nature and plants, but they don't care because they want to do what they want on their plot of land. They very much value their land, but they want to enjoy it and tend to it in their own way. They love staying home and fixing stuff, and they love their property, but they don't see (or want to see) the big ecological picture and how it relates to their own land.

And, that brings up a big kettle of worms--do we only let those who see the big ecological picture own wild areas to tend to? Who gets to decide who has the right knowledge and ideology to own them? This then gets into the philosophical and political question of what personal liberties a person is entitled to and if we have the right to dictate to others what is the correct way to manage their property. This is one complicated issue!
 
Gilbert Fritz
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I'd say that most wild areas are not really wild. (Basically, it would be as if a local official came to visit your food forest, exclaimed about its "wild" beauty, and then moved you out and forbid you to harvest from it anymore, to "protect" it. Then they sold 99% of it to a developer, while making the last 1% into a protected park. That is the back story of modern conservation.)

What we do with wild or unwild land now is more complicated. I think people can/ could tend a piece of land in an integrated fashion, while meeting their needs; whether they will or not, is another matter. We have very little knowledge, and as others have pointed out, don't even know what "better" is as applied to ecosystems.

So we permaculture folks should practice on truly degraded lands, where just about anything we do is an improvement; any change to a swath of dead lawn or parking lot will be for the better. As we learn more, we may be able to tend some of the dying gardens left us by the Native peoples around the world.

This is also an issue in Europe; to preserve a coppice woodland that has been being coppiced for thousands of years, should we keep cutting? Or should we keep people out so they don't damage the few remaining woodlands on the continent? If we let things go, then the trees will grow into really crazy shapes; each sprout will become a whole new trunk, weakly attached to the stump; it will become a crowded and dangerous forest. On the other hand, most moderns don't have the skills or aptitudes to coppice forests properly. Who decides?

 
duane hennon
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another example of "wild forests" being not so old

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/11/lost-city-medieval-discovered-hidden-beneath-cambodian-jungle

Revealed: Cambodia's vast medieval cities hidden beneath the jungle
Exclusive: Laser technology reveals cities concealed under the earth which would have made up the world’s largest empire in 12th century

Archaeologists in Cambodia have found multiple, previously undocumented medieval cities not far from the ancient temple city of Angkor Wat, the Guardian can reveal, in groundbreaking discoveries that promise to upend key assumptions about south-east Asia’s history.


The Australian archaeologist Dr Damian Evans, whose findings will be published in the Journal of Archaeological Science on Monday, will announce that cutting-edge airborne laser scanning technology has revealed multiple cities between 900 and 1,400 years old beneath the tropical forest floor, some of which rival the size of Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh.


Some experts believe that the recently analysed data – captured in 2015 during the most extensive airborne study ever undertaken by an archaeological project, covering 734 sq miles (1,901 sq km) – shows that the colossal, densely populated cities would have constituted the largest empire on earth at the time of its peak in the 12th century.

Evans said: “We have entire cities discovered beneath the forest that no one knew were there – at Preah Khan of Kompong Svay and, it turns out, we uncovered only a part of Mahendraparvata on Phnom Kulen [in the 2012 survey] … this time we got the whole deal and it’s big, the size of Phnom Penh big.”


there isn't or ever was a forest primeval
I think the importance of all this
is that permaculture thinking and
actions should be based upon facts
not touchy-feely "nature is good,
man is bad" memes.
 
duane hennon
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so is abandoning 1/2 of the world and depriving it the benefit of human action really a good thing?
many of the ecosystems we cherish as "wild", may just come tumbling down

http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/06/humans-the-hyperkeystone-species/487985/

Humans: The Hyperkeystone Species
The last paper from one of the world’s greatest ecologists challenges his peers to think about humanity’s influence on the world.

We are the influencer of influencers, the keystone species that disproportionately affects other keystone species, the ur-stone that dictates the fate of every arch.


Bears, wolves, salmon, starfish, orcas, and sea otters: we influence the lot. Whether directly through hunting and fishing, or indirectly through light and noise pollution, climate change, or deforestation, we change the levels of keystone species everywhere.

“People now strongly influence all natural ecosystems,” says Julia Baum from the University of Victoria. “We do so to such an extent that as scientists we cannot even begin to understand how the ecosystems work if we do not first account for the ways in which people are changing them.”
 
Tyler Ludens
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Personally, I don't think we should "abandon" it.

More about not abandoning it: http://www.permies.com/t/56225/permaculture-design/Mollison-Permaculture-Zones-happened-Zone
 
duane hennon
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maybe before we "abandon it" we could give it a little nudge

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2096740-soil-organisms-alone-can-determine-which-plants-grow-where/

Soil organisms alone can determine which plants grow where

Change the organisms that live in soil and you can change the kinds of plants that grow in it.

A field trial in the Netherlands has found that adding a thin layer of soil from a healthy ecosystem to degraded land greatly speeds up restoration. What’s really surprising, though, is that this “inoculation” can determine in what direction the ecosystem develops.
 
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