Sunday, December 12, 2010

Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK)

Dennis Martinez speaks from the Native Alaskans view of existence as part of the environment. He speaks of a covenant with the animals and plants long ago, a covenant in which native peoples would care for the animals and plants and the animals and plants would care for people. Martinez calls this a survival view as much as a religious one. He describes the presence of humans as having a positive influence, a stewardship with the environment as opposed to the view of anthropomorphic damage to the environment. Martinez attributes the difference as stemming from Natives' identity with nature, rather than the Western view that Nature is here to serve man.

This is all very Alaskan and accounts for some of the apparently contradictory political positions of Alaskan politicians. It accounts in part for the close relationship of Senator Stevens with Hawaii's Senator Daniel Inouye and Sarah Palin's morphing into a Raven.

Coffee Agroforestry
"The application of TEK (organic, shade-grown, polyculture) in coffee cultivation and its support by consumers is now significantly reducing the environmental degradation associated with the practice of open-field coffee monocultures that emerged in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Coffee is a small evergreen, an understory tree that originated in the tropical forests of Africa. Once domesticated, it was traditionally grown in the shade of other trees such fruit and exotic hardwoods.

The practice of “shade-grown” under a protective canopy offers a number of advantages over the more intensive “sun-grown” coffee including multiple harvests of coffee and other forest products, fertile/moist soils, temperature control, flora/fauna diversity, and the organic control of pests/disease. Traditional coffee plantations in El Salvador now constitute more than 60% of her forested land. With increased consumer demand for organic, shade-grown and fair trade coffees, farmers can return to the resilient mixed cropping systems of the past that offer sustainable harvests while still preserving biodiversity and the integrity of the tropical forest ecosystem."

If you read much of the new molecular biology in science magazines such as Nature or Science, you might read of complex symbiotic relationships between plants and between plants, soil and soil bacteria. Much detail involves genetics proteomics and hints of coherent particle relationships yet undreamed of.