As environmental management becomes of increasing concern to both industrial and developing societies, it is instructive to look at the fundamental relationship between man and environment as exemplified by the hunter-gatherer cultures, in which resource management was and is vital to the very existence of human life. The authors of this book look at hunting and gathering societies in Australia and North America, searching for the essential, as distinct from local, manifestations of human-environment relations. They examine the availability of resources in relation to the requirements of stable and expanding human populations, explore the ontological and structural principles of ecological relations in these societies, and describe the rationale of geographic boundaries and control of access to resources within and across boundaries. A number of current theoretical issues are addressed: the use of fire as a tool for environmental management; the ecological consequences of seasonal mobility patterns; the functional basis for differing forms of control over resources; the social organization of production, including the symbolism of the sexual division of labor; the tactical exercise of jural rights in the use of resources; and the ecological consequences of religious beliefs. The book concludes with a summary of the case materials in terms of what they contribute to the understanding of hunting/gathering as an "economic" category and to the conflict over management of natural resources where societies of hunter-gatherers are encapsulated within industrial societies.

chapter |16 pages