Effects of Climate Change on Land Use and Traditional Activities

As the environment changes, the activities carried out in that environment will also change. Indigenous peoples have a relationship with the land; their livelihood is taken from the land, their culture is derived from the land. A decrease in the amount and type of traditional activities could lead to a decrease in culture. Culture is tied to traditional knowledge and traditional practices. As traditional practices and customs are forgotten, culture too begins to fade.

There is a threat to Indigenous culture as climate changes. The ways of the land may become no longer sustainable. New methods of hunting, fishing, trapping, and gathering will need to be developed. The teachings associated with the ‘old ways’ of doing things may be under threat of being lost permanently. Traditional teachings are used to teach younger generations about the environment. These teaching are the basis for the formation of the relationship to the land. Indigenous teachings help the young generation develop a respect for the environment and teach them about their environmental stewardship. Canada is one country of many who are involved in the Convention of Biological Diversity.

The participants from Canada recognized the importance of traditional Knowledge to the conservation of biological diversity and suggest that ‘[t]he key to making decisions that do not adversely affect diversity is a better understanding of ecosystems and how they are affected by human activity. This includes a better understanding of Traditional Knowledge and the role it might play in conservation and sustainable-use efforts’ (Canada, 1998). The effects of climate change on land use and traditional activities directly impact the culture and identity, type and amount of traditional activities of Indigenous peoples. As culture is impacted, the ability to protect and maintain their Treaty and Indigenous Rights related to the use and sustainability of the land is in jeopardy and may be lost over time.