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Human Influence and Threat to Biodiversity and Sustainable              Debela Hunde

conserve and manage the natural environment (Kafi-Tsekop, 1993). These important cultural attributes and the natural habitats they helped to conserve are threatened due to the impact of modernization on indigenous cultural norms (Cunningham, 1993; Debela Hunde, 2001). Bodies of indigenous knowledge are structured by systems of classification, sets of empirical observations about local environments, and systems of self management that govern resource use (Mishra, 1994; Zemede Asfaw,1998; Mirutsi Giday,1999; Daba Wirtu, 2000).

They are accessible in the first place to those members of a social group changed with specific management and production responsibilities. In this sense, indigenous knowledge systems are by their very nature gendered. They are fuelled by the experimentation and innovation of those groups within a community which have been assigned specific production and management responsibilities. Women make an important contribution to the traditional economy, minor forest produce economy, communal and homestead lands (Mishra, 1994; Roba, 2001; Daba Wirtu, 200).  There has been a growing interest in women indigenous knowledge systems. Their knowledge and skills generating abilities must be recognized and respected. Depending upon the cultures, some of knowledge of females and males are complementary. Both are needed for understanding a particular dimension of production or decision making. According to Mishra (1994) in many communities women are the primary natural resources managers, and that they possesses an intimate knowledge of the environment. On the other hand 1 billion young people and adults cannot read and write. Around the world, approximately 1340 million children of school age have no access to schools. Above all, it is women and girls

who are disproportionately disadvantaged in Asia and Africa South of Sahara Trittin (2002). This must be addressed by governments and communities so as to achieve sustainable environmental friendly living. There are ample opportunities of using sun, water, wind, biomass and geothermal energy. The application is absolutely reasonable and no government should shy away from this task. Many poor people of the world are using renewable energy sources such as wood or dung. However, such biomass is often harvested unsustainably and burned in inefficiently (Topfer, 2004). They imply risks to the environment and to human health. Modern technologies offer much more attractive options particularly for areas where a conventional electricity grid will be built. Such approaches make sense in economic as well as environmental terms (Hauff, 2002).

In recent development of biodiversity conservation and sustainable utilization, the role of rural community is well accepted. In light of this understanding, (1) Indigenous people of any given community should be consulted and directly involved in the planning and implementation of development and environmental projects. This would ensure the integration of positive cultural attributes in the eventual execution of projects and create a sense of belonging, (2) traditional environmental conservation practices and knowledge should be documented and encouraged in order to complement modern conservation efforts. In effect, the implementation of these guidelines will greatly contribute to environmental friendly living of the rural communities. Annan (2002) cited in Trittin (2002) stated that “we have not yet fully integrated the economic, social and environmental, nor have we made enough of a break with unsustainable development we will need to display greater responsibility for ecosystem for

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