Are we capable of finding new niches and living lightly on the land, or is human residence inherently destructive?
Some of both, but I think your parallelism is broken: It’s folks like you, long-term residents of a place, who can “live lightly on the land”, because memory and experience give perspective. It’s the migrants, the ones who settle new territories, who see their new homes as “undeveloped”, and think first of what resources they can extract from the place.
Of course, even long-term residents can be destructive eventually, as with the depletion and destruction of farmland (Persia and Mesopotamia, much of Africa and Asia, patches in lots of other places). But we have learned a lot since the dawn of agriculture, and the land gets a much better deal from folks who expect their descendants to be living off the same land they are… in whatever shape it’s been left for them.