Why Learn from Traditional Societies?
Unlike modern industrial societies, traditional rural and Indigenous societies that have maintained the essence of their culture do not suffer from widespread alienation from nature with its associated environmental and social crises. Instead, they actively engage with their natural environment in their day-to-day lives. They are experienced and attentive participants in and observers of the natural world, and over millennia they have accumulated sophisticated bodies of knowledge about their environment, its variability, and change.
Because traditional rural and indigenous societies require intact, healthy environments to maintain their cultural identity, they continue to lead lifestyles that are respectful towards natural resources, and they have minimal impact on the environment. For thousands of years their very cultural and physical survival has depended upon sustaining and nurturing the biodiversity and productivity of their lands. Over millennia this sophisticated understanding of highly complex natural systems has allowed them to develop successful survival strategies and adaptations to changes in the environment.
As modern industrial societies face environmental and social crises that are inextricably linked, they will benefit greatly from the traditional ecological knowledge of rural and indigenous peoples who continue to live in direct contact with nature. For the benefit of humankind and the planet it is essential to preserve, protect, and pass on this knowledge.