Rangeland Ecology & Management

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Aboriginal Overkill and Native Burning: Implications for Modern Ecosystem Management
Kay, Charles E.
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Western environmental philosophy, which influences how our national parks and natural areas are managed, rests on four assumptions. First, that there is a "balance of nature," where ecosystems achieve a constancy or equilibrium that persists through time. Implicit in this assumption is the belief that climax vegetation was widespread in pre-Columbian
times. Second, conservationists invariably assume that, prior to the arrival of Europeans, America was a "wilderness" untouched by the hand of man, and third, that this "wilderness" teemed with wildlife, especially ungulates like elk (Cervus elaphus), moose (Alces alces), and bison (Bison bison). Fourth, and finally, is the assumption that Native Americans were either poor, primitive, starving savages whose numbers were too low to have any impact on the "pristine" landscape (Jobes 1991:388) or that native peoples were children of nature and original conservationists who were too wise to ovemse their environment (Alvard 1993)

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Kay, Charles E. 1994.
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