Native American Land-Use Practices and Ecological Impacts: Journal Article

Abstract (excerpt): [Native American] “protoagricultural” techniques, based upon traditional knowledge of natural processes gained over the millennia, were applied to increase the quantity and improve select qualities of focal plant species. Fire was the most important management tool... There is currently an ecological “vacuum,” or disequilibrium, in the Sierra resulting from the departure of Native American [land management] influences. The recent decline in biotic diversity, species extirpation and endangerment, human encroachment into fire-type plant communities (e.g., chaparral), and greatly increased risk of catastrophic fires are but symptoms of this disequilibrium. It is recommended, there- fore, that land-managing agencies and land-use planners incorporate Native American traditional knowledge into future policies and programs for ecosystem management in the Sierra Nevada. This traditional knowledge, which permitted the adaptive success of large human populations and the maintenance of Sierran environments for more than a hundred centuries, must not be dismissed.
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Anderson, M. Kat, and Moratto, M. J. 1996. Water, II, 187-206. University of California, Centers for Water and Wildland Resources.