Writing

The writing phase of the process involves taking your outline, which is a skeletal view of your ideas, and creating paragraphs. If you have taken the time to write a detailed outline, your paragraphs will be easier to create because your ideas are already organized. In your first draft, you should work at getting your ideas down on paper. There will be time for editing and revising after you have an initial draft. You will be able to make changes over time to make your writing more fluid.

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If you struggle with putting your ideas on paper, sometimes known as writer's block, consider the following strategies:

  • Write a little bit every day! Don’t try to write your entire draft in one sitting. Break the task up into smaller chunks by writing one or two paragraphs a day.
  • If you are stuck on how to begin the introduction, skip it and write the body of the paper first. Once you have the body paragraphs, you can go back and write an introduction by making reference to the major ideas from each paragraph.
  • If you skipped the outline part of the writing process, consider creating a reverse outline. Write a draft of your paper; then sit down with the draft and break it down into an outline format with your main points, sub points and support. This strategy will help you see where you have gaps in your research.
  • If you are an auditory learner, it may help to talk through your paper before writing. Record yourself talking about your ideas. You can then evaluate your verbal ideas and create a written outline or draft.

Write! Write! Write! At this stage, focus on putting words on the paper or computer screen. Try not to edit as you write; just write! Editing comes after writing.


Sample Student Paper

    Explore the first two drafts created for the topic below.
    • What is the impact of traditional ecological knowledge on environmental management?
    Observe how Draft #1 is further developed to Draft #2.
    • In Draft #2, ideas and research are added where there are gaps in Draft #1.
    • In Draft #2, ideas are clarified and there is a greater consideration for how each idea relates to the next.

Draft #1

Introduction

The use of fire by native peoples to change ecosystems or portions thereof is almost universal (Steven Pyne World of Fire: The Culture of Fire on Earth from blm.gov website) The two videos Fires of Spring and Second Nature: Building Forests in West Africa's Savannas provide portray two contrasting examples of how communities use fire .

In North America First Nations communities have long used landscape burning to clear land, enhancing the growth of desired plants and encouraging the presence of animals (Turner 1999, 185). In Africa

In Europe and western societies, fire has been viewed XXXX (Need citation – find out how fire was viewed).  In 1982, Henry T. Lewis acknowledged the shortcomings of researchers, saying that "No aspect is quite so dismal as anthropologists' lack of knowledge of indigenous uses of fire for transforming and maintaining natural environments." (Lewis 1982, 3)

As George Wuerthner points out, each ecosystem responds to fire in its own way (Wuerthner 2006, 89).

In the past, researchers have tended to minimize or dismiss the effects that communities being studied exerted on the land they inhabited, particularly hunting and gathering societies because it was argued that these communities do not produce or control resources (Lewis 1982, 4).  In the last few decades, this has begun to change, although debate continues with some researchers continuing to assert that lightening strikes are responsible for the majority of wild fire evidence (Wuerthner 2006, 9)

Dene

Boreal forest covers roughly two-thirds of Alberta (Lewis 1982, 14) and researchers have estimated that at least 95 percent of the boreal forest of Canada has regenerated, and is growing on what was at one point burned land (Slaughter, Barney, and Hansen 1971, 1).

Controlled or prescribed burns offer many advantages, such as quicker warming of burned-over areas, which induces an earlier and longer growth period for plants (Anon. 1979, 1)

"Fires had to be controlled. You couldn't just start a fire anywhere, anytime. Fire can do a lot of harm or a lot of good.  You have to know how to control it…" (Lewis 1982, 1)

Kissi

In the southern tip of Guinea, Kissidougou's landscape is considered a transition zone, between forest and savannah, like much of Western Africa (Anon. 1996). From the beginning of the French occupation of Guinea in 1893, government policy makers presumed that the dense forest patches surrounding the villages in Kissidougou were the last remaining traces of an original forest that had once fully covered the landscape (Anon. 1996).

In Kissidougou, villages form the political units within the Kissi society, with alliances sometimes established between three or four villages (Person 1960, 86), and the villages are surrounded by dense forest.

Many aspects of land management employed by the local communities have been criminalized, for example setting bush fires carried the death penalty in the 1970s (Fairhead 1996, 4)

Palms have the ability to colonize degraded or damaged tropical ecosystems, (Balick and Cox 1996, 192)

Myths

Attitudes still need to change,

In the United States, with then Forest Fires Emergency Act was established in 1908, Congress agreed to reimburse the Forest Service for any expenses accrued for suppressing fires, basically a blank check; however, Congress remains much more reluctant to budget for funds to prevent fires (Wuerthner 2006, 250).

Draft #2

Fire Control or Fire Prevention

Introduction

The use of fire by native peoples to change ecosystems or portions thereof is almost universal (Steven Pyne World of Fire: The Culture of Fire on Earth from blm.gov website) The two videos Fires of Spring and Second Nature: Building Forests in West Africa's Savannas illustrate the use of fire as a land management system in two different communities.

In North America, First Nations communities have long used landscape burning to clear land, enhancing the growth of desired plants and encouraging the presence of animals (Turner 1999, 185). From tundra in the north, to muskeg and the boreal forest which stretches south to the prairie grasslands and west to subalpine and montane forests in British Columbia, researchers have identified a series of concentric arcs of biotas and fire climate zones emanating in rings from the Hudson Bay (Pyne 2007, 18). Evidence of natural occurring fire, from carbon deposits in lake sediment, shows that fire was shaping the landscape as soon as vegetation appeared after the most recent glacial period (Murphy 1985, 33). Pyne notes that even before humans, fire relied on and shaped the plants and landscape as much as the landscape and plants relied on and shaped fire behaviour (Pyne 2007, 21).

In Africa, savannah grassland is another ecological zone prone to wildfires. Here to there are signs that fire, people, plants, and animals co-exist in complex and sometimes misunderstood relationships.  Wild fire affects the behaviour of grazing animals, altering foraging patterns as fresh growth becomes available in burned areas (Archibald et al. 2005, 95) and also promotes the "patchiness" of the savannah, as the young trees that are most likely to survive wild fires are those closest to the protection of existing clumps of older trees (Hochberg et al. 1994, 225). The role people play in this ecosystem is just beginning to be understood.

Early European arrivals in the area that is now Alberta viewed fire primarily as a destroyer (Murphy 1985, 33), as did French colonizers in Guinea (Fairhead and Leach 1996, 29). The views of the new arrivals, often neglected to fully appreciate the extensive knowledge of fire-ecology of the native inhabitants, which was particularly suited for the local regions. This lead fire prevention practices and land management policies that have met with mixed success.


The Boreal Forest and the Dene

Boreal forest covers much of Canada, and roughly two-thirds of Alberta (Lewis 1982, 14) and researchers have estimated that at least 95 percent of today's boreal forest of Canada is actually regenerated forest, growing on what was at one point burned land (Slaughter et al. 1971, 1).  Forested regions may appear uniform, but closer inspection reveals a mosaic of patches made up of brush, muskeg, trees, and open grasslands.  The boreal forest regions are unique also in that they receive a greater number of lightning strikes than other regions (Pyne 2007, 14).  These natural features of the land and weather combine to create a biota zone that experiences 90 percent of Canada's non-anthropogenic fires (Pyne 2007, 20).  Many of the plants trees found in boreal forests, such as aspen and birch, are particularly adapted to fire, propagating with pinecones that release seeds when heated or by buried rhizomes (Anon. 1979).

Long before the arrival of Europeans, the Dene people had adapted their lives to this region, using controlled burns to remove combustible materials such as dead grass from around inhabited areas and to burn specific regions around their hunting grounds, such as meadows where moose like to roam and lakes populated by muskrats (Anon. 1979).  They prefer to burn in spring, as the snow is disappearing and before ducks begin to nest. This schedule offers the greatest benefit from the fires, warming the land and inducing earlier spring growth, and by consequence providing a longer growing period for plants; it is also safer than burning in summer or fall when the land is drier and fires would be harder to maintain (Anon. 1979, 1).  The early spring succession encouraged herbivore animals to settle in the burned areas, which in turn also attracted carnivores that preyed upon the herbivores.


Savannah transition zones and the Kissi

In the southern tip of Guinea, Kissidougou's landscape is a transition zone between forest and savannah, like much of Western Africa (Anon. 1996). Surrounded by the savannah, the dense forest islands encircle the villages, which form the political units within Kissi society. Naturally occurring fires sweep through the savannah during the dry-season, along with high winds and excessive heat.  Consequently, the inhabitants of Kissidougou take steps to protect their settlements, by managing soil conditions, creating barriers, and removing combustible fuel (Anon. 1996). Grasses are removed from the savannah and used for thatched roofs, and livestock are encouraged to feed on grassy areas around the village (Anon. 1996).  Overtime, trees become established in these protected areas near the villages, and the landscape changes from grassland with small and widely-spaced light-loving tree species, to dense closed-canopy forests that are resistant to fire (Anon. 1996).


Policies of the New Comers

In Canada, the government began to define forest reserves in 1905 and 1906; reserves in Alberta included areas such as Cypress Hills and Elk Island (Murphy 1985, 136).  The passing of "An Act Respecting Forest Reserves" established the goal to "utilize the land for the production of timber to so harvest the timber crop that a permanent supply may be contiguously maintained" (Murphy 1985, 131) and called for the increased use of fire rangers to protect these timber resources (Murphy 1985, 129).  In 1908, a man named Abraham Knechtel was appointed inspector of forest reserves.  His observations offer interesting insight into the prevailing attitudes towards fire at the time:

"The earlier settlers, coming from Europe were used to forest conservation. They had practiced it in the countries from which they came. Forest destruction was to them a new thing; but the forests were so vast that they thought there could never be a scarcity of wood, and they reasoned that the more the forest was destroyed, the more the agricultural interests of the country would be advanced. But the modern settler sees the forest in a different light, especially so in the great North-west where on the wide prairie wood is a luxury.  To him forest conservation is the necessity, not forest destruction." (Murphy 1985, 149).

As early as the beginning of the 20th century, fire was perceived as a phenomenon that destroyed forests. The comment reveals that not only did the attitudes of the new arrivals change within a few generations after arriving, but also that the separation of humans and the ecosystem was firmly entrenched in the European perspective.  Human activity was viewed as existing outside of and separate from "the forest;" this perspective was the basis for policies throughout the next century. Even as recently as 1981, fire suppression activities on Indian reserves located within the forest protection areas were enforced according to government agreements (Murphy 1985, 289). It was during the 1980's that researchers began to suggest that suppression of fire may be having unintended consequences.  Lewis' works suggests that "Indian technology of burning is, or at least was at one time, well ahead of our own." (Lewis 1982, 47). He also suggests that fire-ecology is an area of research to which anthropologists may make an important contribution to other biological sciences.

From the beginning of the French occupation of Guinea in 1893, government policy makers presumed that the dense forest patches surrounding the villages in Kissidougou were the last remaining traces of an original forest that had once fully covered the landscape, and that the use of fire by the Kissi people was gradually destroying these forests (Anon. 1996).  However, research has revealed that forest regions are actually increasing, and it is the villagers themselves who are creating these new forests (Anon. 1996). Blame for environmental mismanagement has been largely directed towards villagers, attributed to their ignorance and to the evolution of the rural society in which they live (Fairhead and Leach 1996, 29) and many aspects of land management employed by the local communities have been criminalized, for example setting bush fires carried the death penalty in the 1970s (Fairhead and Leach 1996, 4).  However, this contradicts sharply with the perspective of villagers, who consider themselves "people of the forest" (Paulme 1960, 86).  With extensive research into  how the villagers activities actually create the forest islands, Fairhead and Leach discovered that the techniques and practices to manage fire vary considerably among communities of Kissidougou, depending on the prevailing climate and vegetation of the specific region, local farming patterns, and population density (Fairhead and Leach 1996, 230).  Fairhead and Leach suggest that future research could investigate the knowledge of communities in other forest-savannah transition zones, to determine if there is a mismatch between local experience and official interpretations and policies (Fairhead and Leach 1996, 287).


Conclusion

The Dene and the Kissi base their land management strategies on experience and knowledge of their local landscapes, gained over many generations.  Their strategies and knowledge allow them to use fire sustainably to maintain local ecosystems and protect their communities.  Europeans have misunderstood and misinterpreted the activities of native inhabitants in both Canada and Guinea.

In the past, researchers have tended to minimize or dismiss the effects that communities being studied exerted on the land they inhabited, particularly hunting and gathering societies. It was argued that these communities were not producing or controlling resources (Lewis 1982, 4).  As a consequence, the importance of traditional burning practices and traditional knowledge of fire-ecology were often ignored or dismissed. Lewis acknowledged the shortcomings of researchers, saying that "No aspect is quite so dismal as anthropologists' lack of knowledge of indigenous uses of fire for transforming and maintaining natural environments." (Lewis 1982, 3). In the last few decades, this has begun to change, although debate continues with some researchers continuing to assert that lightening strikes are responsible for the majority of historical fire evidence (Wuerthner 2006, 9).

Although geographically distant, experiences in the ecosystems of both Guinea and Northern Alberta indicate that there are still many lessons to learn about fire and land management from other cultures.  It is vital to realize that each ecosystem responds to fire in its own way (Wuerthner 2006, 89), and people who have lived in a region for many generations have intimate knowledge of their local ecosystems. As Lewis wrote "we may gain and share important new insights into  the ecology and technology fire" (Lewis 1982, 50).  Fire is part of nature.  Humans can not eliminate it, nor should we wish to.  In the recent past, European colonists in both North America and Africa have sought to prevent fires, overlooking a key distinction between prevention and control.

"Fires had to be controlled. You couldn't just start a fire anywhere, anytime. Fire can do a lot of harm or a lot of good.  You have to know how to control it…" (Lewis 1982,