Reciprocal conservation

Currently, people exercise two primary ways of interacting with the animate and inanimate portions of our landscapes:  exploitation and preservation. 

The former method extracts all resources possible, as much as permitted by law (and sometimes even more), placing no emphasis on sustainability and practicing zero empathy for other life form or future humans. 

The latter method seeks to guard wild places from human involvement of any kind, placing the parcel of land under a figurative glass dome of protection. 

While preservation might seem valuable at first, by preventing humans from interaction with wild beings, it eventually alienates people from nature, leading to nature divorcement and apathy for protecting open spaces

In brief, people do not learn the functions and values of wild landscapes because they are no longer permitted to interact with them in a mutually beneficial way.  As such, they see no value of these spaces and would prefer more of what they do interact with:  supermarkets, retail centers, and restaurants.

Arthur Haines teaching a spring foraging class

Arthur Haines teaching a spring foraging class

Fortunately, there are other ways to both protect wild land and ensure people value the place...

It involves interacting with wild organisms in a specific manner, where both the human and the other-than-human person can benefit from the interaction

Because both primary parties benefit, this kind of land management can be called reciprocal conservation or conservation-through-use.  

This approach isn’t new, it is part of the Traditional Ecological Knowledge possessed by many indigenous people around the world. All our ancestors practiced reciprocal conservation prior to adopting agriculture

A good example of this reciprocal conservation method is when humans gather wild rice in a traditional manner. In this way, they disperse the seeds further and help grow the rice population.

Another example is evening primrose, a species with a edible taproot. This plant can only grow in disturbed areas and so when we harvest the taproot, we help primrose persist in their habitat.

To learn more about our conservation methods, attend a class or come to the Wilder Waters Gathering!