A deep-rooted link between the people and the plants was set up during the long trajectory of Human evolution. Human prehistory also suggests a similar entanglement with the animal biota around. It inspires us to extend our horizon and to imagine a continuum of human emotional and cultural milieu that is ‘inclusive’ of a plethora of biota, both flora, and fauna. The antiquity of this association, perhaps, is quite ancient and might have stemmed from the hunting and gathering subsistence relying on wild food. Hunting and gathering subsistence essentially established another relation with our ancestors, their closeness with the landscape and its elements. It does not come as a surprise that our ancestors had been modifying their environment from very early on to meet up their calorific and nutritional demand. This ‘ecosystem engineering’ happened to such an extent, throughout the globe, that they hardly left any habitat which remained entirely ‘pristine’. The virgin forests of the Amazon also bear the marks of human habitation and engineering. The famous ‘terra preta’ or black earth of the Amazonian forest is a living witness of human ingenuity. The spectrum of human engineering was prolific and touched almost every sphere with its magic wand. It caused radical transformation of the landscape in many places, made agriculture possible, catalyzed population growth, and accelerated the formation of the settled societies.
Ethnic or indigenous communities living amidst nature nurture a knowledge system that is culturally inherited via social learning. The exercise of sustainable use of natural resources, as well as maintaining a fine balance between use and exploitation, has been integral to their philosophy. However, the sense of sustainability and its exercise might not have been very easy to acquire and assimilate; it was likely imbibed through a long chain of close observations and shaped through the trials and the errors. One of the visible fruit of this knowledge system is a perplexing diversity of food biota, indigenous medicinal compilation, prudent use of landscape and its elements, an overall adherence to sustainability which is central to conservation and judicious use of biodiversity.
It emerges even more crucial when we are confronted with the great crisis today. When owing to a human endeavor, a major fraction of the Earth’s biological diversity has been facing an extinction threat. The rapid change in climate pattern has caused huge ecological disasters in the past and many await in near future, perhaps. The rampant use of chemicals and unwarranted technologies have made our food insecure and severed livelihood of many. The predominance of industrial agriculture has greatly eroded the diversity of crop biota. Despite the severity, a general ignorance and an inadequate scientific understanding are two key impediments that are often acknowledged on this line.
A better understanding of human influence on biodiversity and its natural dynamics, climate change, food security would be a step forward towards probable mitigation measures. It brings us to the inception of CEiBa – a conglomeration of people from various learning background. The aim of CEiBa is to unravel the inherent link among bio-cultural diversity, traditional wisdom, food security, conservation, and sustainability. The congregation will be engaged in scientific research, as well as in education and outreach to contribute towards the betterment of society.
An announcement to recruit two unpaid interns at Center for Studies in Ethnobiology, Biodiversity, and Sustainability (CEiBa) . . . Click Here