12.2.2 Ecosacy
To bring conservation management to the heart of family life requires an ability in each individual to conceptualise the wholeness of self and environment as a set of beliefs to live by and a context that gives meaning to life. This ability may be described as ecosacy; a third basic ability to be taught alongside literacy and numeracy. The term ecosacy comes directly from the Greek oikos meaning house, and household management includes making decisions about the natural resources that flow into it. To be ecosate means having the knowledge and mind-set to act, speak and think according to deeply held beliefs and belief systems about people in nature, which is conceptualised as a community of beings.
The educational framework of ecosacy is cultural ecology. The term has its origin in the work of Steward in the 1930s on the social organization of hunter-gatherer groups. Steward argued against environmental determinism, which regarded specific cultural characteristics as arising from environmental causes. Using band societies as examples, he showed that social organization itself corresponded to a kind of ecological adaptation of a human group to its environment. He defined cultural ecology as the study of adaptive processes by which the nature of society and an unpredictable number of features of culture, are affected by the basic adjustment through which humans utilize a given environment.
Cultural ecology originated from an ethnological approach to the modes of production of native societies around the world as adaptations to their local environments. It has long been accepted that this anthropological view is too narrow. It isolates knowledge about the ancient ways of resource management from possible applications to present day issues of urban consumerism. Conservation management is now an institutional process of political adaptation to the environmental impact of world development. Conservation systems are concerned with stabilising the functional relationships between people and the environment, and managerialism has to be integrated into people's perceptions of how they fit within environmental systems.
Because traditional systems often involve long-term adaptations to specific environments and resource management problems, they are of interest to resource managers everywhere. Also, there are lessons to be learned from the cultural significance of traditional ecological knowledge with regard to the sometimes sacred dimensions of indigenous knowledge, such as symbolic meanings and their importance for social relationships and values.