Traditional farming communities had an ability to connect with nature and valued it for the services it provided. Today traditional skills and indigenous knowledge can be used when interacting with our environment in order to enhance resource potentials without exhausting them. This knowledge often provides an in-depth understanding of the surrounding environment, and reflects how ecosystems and cultural landscapes have been managed throughout history. Understanding cultural heritage can help us to understand the worldviews, values and motivations of a by-gone era.
To enhance rural community development, an approach is needed that integrates both exterior and interior needs. Conventional development has so far focused on the exterior aspects of human society, such as economic growth, decision making structures and resource management. These exterior aspects focus on the measurable, material, and tangible aspects of development. Although this has been greatly beneficial in the progress of science, including advances in medicine, technology and communications, it has resulted in the preference of objectivity over subjectivity.
For long-term sustainability of natural ecosystems and farming communities there must be a synergy of exterior and interior initiatives. Development in these areas requires interior needs to be satisfied as well as exterior needs. Cultural, spiritual and psychological well-being must be taken into account. Science and policies must go hand-in-hand with values and emergent understanding of the natural environment. Conventional conservation projects focus on interlocking social, economic, political and ecological issues, however without the alignment of values, motivation and cultural resonance from the local community and society at large, success will be short-lived.