For thousands of years,
people have lived in the jungles, taking from it and living off it. They have
cohabited peacefully with nature, cutting down patches of forest, but letting
it grow back after a period of time.
This ethos still underlies the lifestyles and practices of many forest dwellers. When a tribal honey-gatherer takes a hive, he never cuts it off fully. Part of it is left behind, and when the honey-gatherers are gone, the bees return to make their homes once again in the same place. This ensures that the honey gatherers can return to the hive the next year. It also ensures that the bees are not killed or hurt.
Again, when a tribesman gathers tubers, he is careful not to kill the plant. Part of the tuber and the plant is left alive. When he chances upon a tree in full fruit, he doesn't gather all the fruits. Rather, he takes what he can eat, and maybe one or two for his family, and leaves the rest on the tree. "Why?" I ask him. "For the monkeys," he replies simply.
In the last hundred years,
large-scale deforestation has drastically reduced the forests around the world.
Many lifeways and cultures have been lost and innumerable others scarred irreversibly
Anyone can see who wields the giant razors that have shaved smooth once-verdant hillsides and valleys.
And yet, today, most
government-sponsored conservation efforts, which are the only ones that really
have the scope or the magnitude to make a real difference to the environment,
are centred around "resettling" or "rehabilitating" those
forest dwellers who have so peacefully cohabited with the forests for more
than a millennium.