Promoting Environmental Restoration through Strategic Traditional Ecological Knowledge system: a case study of a village in Eastern India.
Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) can be considered as dynamic knowledge about the techniques by which people can use maximum resources available in the surroundings, in an optimum & equitable manner. It is not patterned like the western knowledge system. It is about looking at the existing pattern of living at present and how it contributes to the wellbeing of the society without exploiting the planet’s resources. It is both evolving and efficient, and incorporates a historical, cultural, and spiritual perspective of our existence in that environment. However, the extent of adaptation depends on the affordability of such measures, particularly on access to technology and bio-physical constraints such as rugged environment, uneven land, availability of natural resources and the soil characteristics. But due to lack of proper understanding of the concept and its methodical applications, the technological innovations are taking the lead and destroying the spirit of TEK’s values. As a result, people are gradually forgetting the indigenous practices that they had been using in their day-to-day life successfully. This has led to the depletion of natural resources and emission of excess greenhouse gases contributing to overall climate change. In this backdrop, an attempt has been made to study an Indian revenue village in Jharkhand region where majority of the population depends on agriculture & allied activities and has a strong belief on the use of TEK in comparison to modern practices. The present case is also an attempt to delineate some of the local strategic traditional ecological knowledge (STEK) systems prevalent in the village and their adaptation to maintain diverse ecosystems at local, regional, national and global levels. Moreover, the paper would also attempt to develop a strategic framework of traditional ecological knowledge for environmental restoration which would be in-built in the very plan of development process. This is primarily a qualitative study and therefore the research methodology is based on purposive sampling, personal interviews, focused group discussion and analysis of the data. Finally, the findings of the study reveal that by adopting the traditional agricultural practices the village has attained almost a self-sustained status and has been able to restore the local ecology in a sustainable manner.