Keywords: ecosystems health, European land management, indigenous land management, information, wisdom, ecosystem management, environmental history, ecosystem change, Paterson River Valley, Australia
From wisdom to information: 350 years of ecosystem management
This paper will examine how the Paterson Valley ecosystem has been managed by humanity with snapshots at 1750, 1830, 1900 and the present. It arises from research into a study of environmental history and ecosystem health of the Paterson Valley through the biophysical, indigenous and European eras. It is contended that during the indigenous era the inhabitants possessed a wisdom regarding the sustainable management of the landscape. This was to rapidly change when Europeans took over the landscape and initially exploited timber and later agricultural production in the early 19th century. It is contended that today the inhabitants of the valley by and large have information and knowledge regarding the valley's ecosystem health but there is little wisdom. The reasons for and the implications of this situation will be discussed in this paper. A case study will be embedded into this paper using the Tocal property as an example of these changes. Extensive family history records will assist in this process.