The very existence of native people depends on them adapting to their natural environment. Today, these ancestral practices are being brought back so that we can adapt better to climate change.
In India, for example, Rajendra Singh and his NGO Tarun Bharat Sangh (Young India Association) have restored dozens of rivers that had dried up in Rajasthan since 1985 by building Johads, traditional rain water collecting systems built with mud and rocks. These huge traditional water reserves that have been rediscovered by this “river maker” make it possible to supply water to Indian villages threatened by desertification.
Ten centuries ago, South American pre-Colombian civilizations that already depended on climate variations for their harvest, developed engineering treasures to channel and store rain water and water from melting Andean glaciers better. Some of these canals are still working.
In Australia, traditional forest fire management has preserved biodiversity. This type of land management disappeared for a while when the Aborigines were expelled. But today, national park rangers are approaching them to set up such systems again and protect threatened species.
In Egypt, arc-shaped bamboo roofs in rural villages are inspired by traditional constructions. These roofs are smaller than flat roofs and make it easier to keep the house cool as hot air rises and cold air stays on the ground’s surface. The openings allow natural air-conditioning through cross-ventilation. Other countries use different forms of this technique.
Modern science can help local populations face climate change but native techniques are adaptation models that have been tested by centuries of experimentation and practice. This knowledge can be the starting point of more global solutions.