Forest Community

Community management of natural landscapes is our best and maybe only hope.

Community and culture have thrived in the days and territories where humans have taken their livelihoods directly from their environments.

We seem to do very well without the complex markets, commercial trade routes and value added commodification that our current technology allows for, but rather with the immediacy of the need to work together for survival and the shared joy of accomplishing it.

Now some may argue that our life expectancy is better with modern technology, that we don’t need to work as hard now with all our gadgets and automation, and that we are more free now to explore our surroundings, our minds and the boundaries of possibility.

All of this may be well and true, yet we also suffer from deadly diseases of modernity. Our life expectancy is longer, but is our quality of life actually better? We certainly perform less physical labor, walk less and don’t often need to worry about running or fighting for our lives – but because of these very comforts we suffer from high rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension… the list goes on.

It would seem that our Culture has taken a decidedly different path, one that leads directly away from our Nature. But Nature is sending us the bill for this departure in grim and painful ways. This human quest away from living as part of an ecosystem is deeply rooted in our history, and it may be argued that the impetus of human civilization may in fact be the escape from our inevitable and final Nature.

But is it inevitable that we live in opposition to the natural environment that provides us with everything from our first breath of air to the very organisms that recycle our bodies back into the earth when we die?

80% of the earth’s remaining biodiversity is on lands inhabited and managed by traditional or Indigenous cultures. That is to say, what little is left of Nature is reserved to areas where the humans and their culture have not chosen the path of departure. This is no coincidence.

Traditional knowledge around surviving in the forest and managing its resources represents an integral and time-proven way to survive and thrive. Living in the forest fosters health at the individual, community, ecosystem and some would argue the spiritual levels.

As we become more aware of the need to bring back the forest, we also have to understand that this means going back to live in the forest. Yes, technology may help us on this return journey, but the most powerful and useful technology we have may be the surviving knowledge of how to live in Nature.

Published by ecosocialdesign

I am a graduate of Gaia University's action learning program where I developed a number of experimental techniques on rooftop gardening and the use of bamboo in the construction of human powered machines. I later focused on ways to use action learning to bring higher education recognition to Indigenous holders of traditional knowledge. I currently collaborate with my family in Chiapas, Mexico to promote agroecology and alternative markets with Indigenous communities there. My interest is in the burgeoning field of integrative eco-social design, specifically as applicable to landscape and habitat restoration. I am interested in the nexus between productive human activity and biodiversity conservation as I believe there can be no sustainable conservation that does not directly address and resolve the needs of human populations. Other areas of interest for me include traditional Indigenous knowledge around habitat management and food production. I am specifically interest in creating business opportunities for landscape and forest restoration specialists to engage with industry and community stakeholders in long term management contracts, as I believe this will become an essential part of all projects from their inception and design moving forward. This blog is a repository for my ideas on conservation and human productivity in the post-natural age.

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