Friday, April 19, 2013

Living in Balance With Nature

This will be a short post that got prompted by a painting that I saw from the 19th century.

We often talk when it comes to bushcraft about living in balance with nature. Utilizing the resources she provides while not taking more than the ecosystem can afford. It struck me that there are two distinct ways to do that. The first is creating a balance with nature as an intentional goal. This can be seen in modern conservation methods, where how much game can be taken any particular season is determined by studying the population of the particular animal and the carrying capacity of the regional ecosystem. Then there is the model that we often refer to in bushcraft circles, and that is the type of balance achieved by indigenous societies. This balance is often created not by intentional conservation efforts, but by necessity. In simple terms, some indigenous societies have no express interest in managing wildlife. They take as much game as possible and use as many resources as possible without concern for overuse. The balance is created due to the fact that their methods for exploiting the resources at their disposal are very inefficient.  


The above is a painting by Alfred Jacob Miller created around 1860. It depicts Plains Indians driving buffalo over a cliff. While the painting is certainly an exaggerated portrayal of such a hunt, it was in fact a hunting technique in use at the time.

A balance with nature can be achieved either by intentional control of how much resources are taken, so that there is no overuse, or the balance can be created by having the intention to take as much resources as possible, but lacking the ability to do so due to limited technology. It’s just something I thought about when looking at the painting.   

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