Indigenous Food and Cultural Protection

Food and ecosystem knowledge which has been passed down for centuries is constantly threatened by the modern mechanical market. To stymie this change in food (and knowledge) consumption there is a global effort to protect the sanity of food and related support systems.

The significance of sacred foods. Many indigenous communities have certain foods—including corn, taro, and wild rice—that are considered sacred and have profound teachings and practices associated with them. One of the most significant ways that indigenous peoples have demonstrated a respectful relationship to their sacred foods is through sustainable land and water practices. Because these totem foods are so highly regarded, it is considered a tragedy and a violation of fundamental rights that they are now being threatened with life patenting and genetic modification.

Native foods and ecosystem health. Native foods are markers of diversity and are often keystone species for the health of an ecosystem and the health of a people. The body of knowledge that indigenous communities hold concerning the cultivation of foods and the conservation of habitats are viable and potentially essential alternatives to some of today’s more unsustainable practices. Without healthy seeds, lands, and waters, native foods will continue to be compromised, damaged, and made scarce, and the health of ecosystems, native communities, and all communities will suffer.

Protecting indigenous peoples. Respecting indigenous communities, their land, and their traditions is an invaluable resource in our efforts to combat climate change. Defending indigenous rights involves governments implementing policies that protect indigenous groups, corporations engaging in mutually beneficial relations with indigenous communities and the environment, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) creating funding models and grants that help to support and grow indigenous societies.

Read more at WorldWatch

One Amazing Fence

Fences can build good neighbours and fences can save the environment. One fence has done
wonders for protecting rhinos and water.

Colin Church, the chair of the Kenya-based Rhino Ark conservation group and a leading expert on African leading wildlife, said the fence, which took 21 years for local communities to complete, had failed to save the rhino in the uplands it surrounds.

However, it had succeeded in protecting a large forest area and the sources of four of seven of Kenya’s largest rivers, all of which rise in the Aberdares and provide electricity and water to major cities including Nairobi.

“In the early days, the motivation was to protect the black rhino, but then we all woke up to the fact that the farmers [who lived near the fence] were celebrating, and the reality is that this forested mountain area was the lifeblood for millions of people. We realised the whole ecosystem was at stake,” he said.

“Our thinking had to change.The Aberdares are now the most secure mountain ecosystem in the whole of Kenya and maybe Africa.”

Keep reading at The Guardian.

Preserving Canada’s Boreal Forest

The Ontario government recently announced that a patch Canada’s boreal forest twice the size of England will be protected. The De-Smog Blog describes the greatness of the boreal forest and what the recent announcement means.

Canada’s Boreal Forest is important when it comes to global warming and greenhouse gas emissions. Canada’s Boreal forest is the world’s largest terrestrial storehouse of carbon, exceeding even the total carbon stored in the Amazon.

North America’s Boreal Forest stores up to 11% of the world’s terrestrial carbon. Roughly 56% of all the carbon is stored in peat. The remaining carbon is pooled in above-ground vegetation, rocks, and soil. At 186 billion tons, Canada’s Boreal carbon storage alone is equal to near 27 years of the world’s carbon emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels.

You can download a comprehensive fact sheet on global warming and Canada's Boreal Forest here. (pdf)

Last year, 1,500 scientists from 50 countries called on Canadian governments – federal, provincial and territorial – to protect the 5.6 million square kilometres of boreal forest in Canada, which holds about 186 billion tonnes of carbon.

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