Experts turning to ancient practices to save eco-systems
Experts are turning to ancient farming practices , such as raising fish in rice paddies in China and fire controls used by Australian Aborigines, in order to find ways to slow the extinctions of animals and plants and to undo some of the damage caused to natural habitats.
UN studies have revealed that our planet is experiencing the worst spate of extinctions since the dinosaurs vanished 65 million years ago. According to the UN, this is driven by a rising human population, however we believe it is the result of the wide-spread destruction and unsustainable practices caused by power-hungry governments and corporate greed.
Now we are faced with having to undo their damage and the solutions lie with the traditional practices of our ancient ancestors.
"Indigenous and local knowledge ... has played a key role in arresting biodiversity loss and conserving biodiversity," said Zakri Abdul Hamid, founding chair of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
115 nations will join together in Turkey from 9 th to 14 th December to discuss how indigenous peoples’ practices can be revived in order to protect wildlife. One of the ideas to be considered is the ancient practice of raising fish in the waters of rice paddies, which is a practice used in southern China for 1,200 years, and is known to reduce pests. Studies have shown that it would reduce the need for pesticides by 68 percent and chemical fertiliser by 24 percent.
In doesn’t take a genius to realise that such sustainable practices are far more beneficial than spraying crops with toxic substances – a modern-day practice which is leading to the eradication of billions of bees worldwide, and harming many other species, including our own.
Other ideas being considered include: the Aboriginal practice of burning small patches of countryside to crease a mosaic of firebreaks that prevents the spread of devastating blazes in the dry season, digging pits on Tanzanian hillsides to collect rainfall in the rainy season to limit erosion, and the Pacific island practice of safeguarding fish stocks around coral reefs, for instance by declaring some areas off limits to fishing.
Anne Larigauderie, incoming executive secretary of IPBES, said indigenous peoples often felt ignored by government planners. "There is a great need for recognition and acceptance of their knowledge," she said.
It is an extraordinary situation mankind is faced with, that in order to move forwards, we must turn to our past and revive old knowledge.