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Executive Summary

In current forest management practices and education traditional ecological knowledge of indigenous people is not often addressed or acknowledged. Local tribes have thousands of years of collective knowledge about the inner workings of ecosystems, plant growth, and traditional foods and medicines. This important information should be utilized to make more informed decisions about forest management to enhance both ecosystem and community wellbeing and provide a holistic approach to sustainability. As a way to bring traditional knowledge to the forefront of forest management, a new discipline of ethnoforestry has been created and will be implemented on campus through this project.

Ethnoforestry elicits traditional ecological knowledge by local people and incorporates it into the forest management process. Through this work, culturally important plants could be planted in forests where they can be harvested commercially or by tribal members to use, generating new small businesses and jobs in places hit hardest by the reduction in the logging industry. Management would be tailored to benefit the ecosystem as well as the local community. In order for this type of work to be widespread and successful, it is important to start by teaching and generating opportunities for students to learn about this in a hands-on way.

This grant has been used to execute several objectives including the following: plan a brand new interdisciplinary ethnoforestry class on campus, propagate and grow culturally important species, build an internship and volunteer program, strengthen relationships with local tribes, and construct a new nursery at the Olympic Natural Resources Center (ONRC). This project will take place at the Center for Urban Horticulture and at ONRC.

In the Summer of 2019, funds from the CSF grant has been used to construct a new nursery at ONRC. This space brought together both tribal youth and UW students for a collaborative way to share scientific information and traditional ecological knowledge.

Primary Contact:
Courtney Bobsin