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Prince Charles: ‘We can learn so much from indigenous communities’ on living in balance with the natural world – ‘Mother Nature is our sustainer’

Dec 29 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Humans should remember they are part of nature and stop exploiting it to avert environmental and climate catastrophe, Britain’s heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles said on Tuesday.

Interviewed by Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood on BBC radio, he urged society to draw on how indigenous communities, such as Canada’s First Nations people, treat the natural world with respect and seek to preserve it for future generations.

“It is high time we paid more attention to … the wisdom of indigenous communities and First Nations people all around the world,” Charles said.

“We can learn so much from them as to how we can re-right the balance, and start to rediscover a sense of the sacred, because … Mother Nature is our sustainer.”

Human-beings are “a microcosm of the macrocosm” when it comes to nature, he added.

“But we have forgotten that, or somehow been brainwashed into thinking that we have nothing to do with nature and nature can just be exploited but if we go on exploiting the way we are, whatever we do to nature – however much we pollute her – we do to ourselves. It is insanity,” Charles said.

Reality Check: The Myth of Noble Eco-savage – “Native peoples can be as destructive to their environments as anyone else, & that historically aboriginal tribes often changed whole ecosystems by the repeated burning of forests & by hunting animal species to extinction.”

Front Cover


United States First Broadcast Date:
June 30, 2000
Total Running Time: 52 minutes

MR. MORANO: And few environmentalists would argue that indigenous tribes should be removed from the forest.
TIM KEATING: Some scientists believe that the effect that indigenous people had on the forest was a positive one for biodiversity.
MR. MORANO: But the tribesmen idealized by environmentalists don’t tell the full story of early man’s relationship with the forest. Great civilizations once inhabited Central and South America. Newly discovered charcoal deposits and agricultural artifacts suggest that humans have repeatedly burned the rainforest.
PROFESSOR ROBERT WHELAN: Very large areas of the America, North and South, have been denuded of trees because the Indians were in the habit of using fire to clear hunting land.
MR. MORANO: Robert Whelan is the author of the book, “The Myth of the Noble Eco-Savage.”
PROFESSOR WHELAN: By the 18th century and the 19th century, we had romantic poets coming up with this idea that they were looking at the forest primeval, that this was how it had been since the dawn of time, and it was very wrong of us to disturb this. But these forests were then only 100-200 years old. They were not primeval at all.

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