Braiding Indigenous Knowledge and Western Science for Forest Landscape Adaptation to Climate Change: an Ecocultural State of Science Report

In response to climate change and steep trends in forest decline in some regions of the US, President Biden recently signed Executive Order 14072 (14072: Strengthening the Nation's Forests, Communities, and Local Economies), which calls for conserving and safeguarding old and mature forests. As part of the executive order, an unprecedented investment is being made to create an old and mature forest inventory and assessment of risks across federal lands within the United States. The executive order also called for an analysis of climate-smart management and conservation strategies. Additionally, President Biden has acknowledged that Indigenous Knowledge (IK) is a critically essential knowledge in developing solutions to the forest conservation and management issues we face today (OSTP CEQ Memorandum, 30 Nov, 2022).

To inform climate-smart management and conservation strategies, we are creating a compendium of the best-available Indigenous Knowledge and Western science about forest conservation and management. Our writing team intentionally partners Indigenous scientists and Western scientists, working together in a decolonized manner. Based on the geographic diversity of forests and the floral, faunal, and human communities that live within them, our state-of-science report will introduce shared understanding, strategies, and actionable examples of adaptive management across cultures, and then focus on the following major forested regions: northern boreal forests, eastern temperate forests, western interior forests, California Mediterranean and Sierran forests, and west coast forests.

Forested Regions
Map by Gina Cova, University of Washington

This report, which is scheduled to be released in December 2023, will provide an initial compendium of knowledge that braids together Indigenous Knowledge and Western science to support future Tribal consultation and engagement that informs climate change adaptation. The report and peer-reviewed papers that stem from it will reflect the full cultural, geographic, and disciplinary depth and breadth of diversity of our writing team and will provide foundational material to inform future work on climate-smart adaptive management policies and practices. Our strength lies in our diversity, and in working together across cultures. The multiple lines of evidence and ecocultural ways of knowing incorporated in this project can and will lead to better-informed decision making about our nation’s forests.

Cristina Eisenberg, Associate Dean for Inclusive Excellence and Maybelle Clark Macdonald Director of Tribal Initiatives in Natural Resources at Oregon State University, and Susan Prichard, fire ecologist at University of Washington, are co-leading the synthesis. Our core writing team includes leading experts across Tribal Nations, the United States, and Canada.


Core Writing Team

Western red cedar

Positionality Statement: We are an intercultural, interdisciplinary team of Indigenous and Western scholars and practitioners focused on place-based adaptation strategies for North American forest landscapes, informed by Indigenous Knowledge and Western Science. As we consider the work of restoring resilience to forest landscapes for future generations and adaptation strategies for rapidly changing conditions, we believe it is essential to respectfully acknowledge the vital role of humans in forest and human community sustainability.

Project leads

Cristina Eisenberg
Associate Dean for Inclusive Excellence and Maybelle Clark Macdonald Director of Tribal Initiatives in Natural Resources, Oregon State University, https://www.forestry.oregonstate.edu/inro (IK)

Susan Prichard
University of Washington School of Environmental and Forest Sciences


Writing Team

Greg Aplet, The Wilderness Society

Hugo Asselin, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue

Colin Beck, Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians

Susan Jane Brown, Silvix Resources

Caden Chamberlain, University of Washington

Tessa Chesonis, Oregon State University

Amy Cardinal Christianson, Indigenous Fire Specialist with the National Fire Management Division at Parks Canada (IK)

Gina Cova, University of Washington

Thomas H. DeLuca, Oregon State University

Cody Desautel, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (IK)

Cristina Eisenberg, Oregon State University

Don Falk, University of Arizona

Robert Gray, RW Gray Consulting

Don Hankins, California State University Chico (IK)

Paul Hessburg, USFS Wenatchee Forestry Sciences Lab

Serra Hoagland, USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station (IK)

Maria Janowiak, Northern Institute of Applied Science, Michigan Tech

Michael Karnosh, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde

Kurt Kipfmueller, University of Minnesota

Leda Kobziar, University of Idaho

Jeremy Littell, USGS Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center

Jonathan Long, USFS Pacific Southwest Research Station - Davis, CA

Andrew Merschel, Oregon State University

Allison Monroe, Oregon State University

Kellen Nelson, USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station - Juneau, AK

Michael Paul Nelson, Oregon State University

Marc Parisien, Canadian Forestry Service

Diego Pérez-Salicrup, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Lenya Quinn-Davidson, University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources

Ashley Russell, Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians

Robert Scheller, North Carolina State University

Courtney Schultz, Colorado State University

Michael Stambaugh, University of Missouri

Zachary Steel, USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station - Ft. Collins, CO

Christopher Swanston, Northern Institute of Applied Science, Michigan Tech

Jonathan Thompson, Harvard Forest

Morgan Varner, Tall Timbers Research Station

Tim Vredenburg, Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribe of Indians

Ellen Whitman, Canadian Forestry Service

Nicole Zampieri, Tall Timbers Research Station/The Jones Center at Ichauway