First Nations: a group of awesome composters

Throughout my life I have always heard and seen humans trashing our ecosystem. This may range from people leaving trash on the sidewalk to the poaching of plants and animals. In the back of my mind I always wondered if there was ever a time when humans have done something helpful to the ecosystem.  It wasn’t until I read the Globe and Mail article ‘First Nations’ traditional way of life good for ecology: B.C. study’  that I realized that not all people have ruined the ecosystem. Natives have helped the environment by doing something as simple as composting.


Here’s a quick summary of the article.

  • The researchers from the University of Waterloo collected soil samples and looked at the health of Western red cedar trees in Calvert and Hecate Islands on the British Columbia coast. The experimental area was inhabited by the First Nations 13000 to 200 years ago and the control area was not.
  • Results: In the experimental site trees grew faster, had full greener crowns and were larger than the control sites. Control areas had low calcium and phosphorous in the soil compared to the experimental sites.
  • They found that trees are healthier in areas with past civilization because remnants of organic materials such as shells, fish bones (food for the Native people) and charcoal were burnt by fire which transformed these materials into nutrients that the trees can use (calcium and phosphorous)
  • The shells also helped create a good drainage system. According to Dana Lepofsky, an archaeologist “Shells are a fabulous, malleable material. It’s just the perfect construction fill available and it adds to the sediment.”
  • It’s not just the Natives in Canada who have helped create nutrient rich soil for the plants. The dark soils in the Amazon is a result from Natives who cultivated and managed the landscape over a millennia


After thoughts

After reading this article I realized that humans have helped the environment with doing something as simple composting. We can help our garden grow as healthy as the cedar trees by following the suggested links below.

How to compost video

Tips, tricks and facts about composting

Composting Fish Waste: Tips On How To Compost Fish Scraps

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