Ethnoforestry: Applying and integrating a new model of ecosystem sustainability on campus

Estimated Amount to be requested from the CSF: $70,000

Letter of Intent:

Summary of Project

UW’s Olympic Natural Resources Center (ONRC) has been developing and implementing a project focused on the new discipline of ethnoforestry throughout this academic year through a CSF grant. We would like to submit a letter of intent for one more year of funding to continue and expand current projects as well as develop new ones. Throughout this year, the Ethnoforestry project has gained traction and captured the attention of people across campus, creating new partnerships and pushing the boundaries of our understanding of sustainability. Ethnoforestry uses a new model that incorporates both community and environmental wellbeing together in order to achieve sustainability. Through this effort, we have reached out to the UW community and beyond to understand ways we can improve both the wellbeing of our campus and the region. With one more year of CSF Funding, we hope to capitalize on this momentum to engage even more people across campus for this interdisciplinary project.

Throughout this year we have been establishing ethnoforestry garden beds in partnership with UW Grounds and the Intellectual House. What started as a way to integrate some ethnobotanical plants into our campus green spaces has developed into a project with a much larger potential scope. The Intellectual House supports our concept of expanding to many beds across campus, each highlighting tribes from a different region across the state with direct input from tribal students. We would like to use future CSF funding to collaborate with tribal students to determine which plant species they would like to see representing their tribe, install those culturally significant plants in campus garden beds, and organize harvesting events where both tribal and non-tribal students would be able to participate in this applied ethnoforestry work. This would create more opportunities for restoration, volunteer engagement, and creating inclusive spaces where all students can learn in a hands-on and applied way.

As interest in this project continues to spread, we would like to use funding to conduct formalized interviews with UW students, both tribal and non-tribal, to understand ways students respond to and their interest in ethnoforestry. Having a better grasp on the needs of the UW community will inherently help us develop a model of sustainability that meets them. This will ensure that all voices from across campus are heard.

Finally, we would like to use funding to build upon our current work. We would like to expand the number of culturally important plant species being studied and grown at the Center for Urban Horticulture both in the greenhouse and at our raised beds where we are currently working to grow bare root style plants. Additionally, we would like to host workshops at the new ONRC plant nursery being installed in late Spring 2019. This would bring together UW students and the tribal community to learn from one another and grow cultural keystone plant species.

Sustainable Impact

This project will absolutely enhance the sustainability of campus. By expanding our ethnoforestry garden beds, we will be able to highlight culturally important plants from tribes across the region. This will provide a tangible space where all tribal students can see a piece of their home represented on campus, a space that also sits on historic tribal land. Additionally, these campus green spaces are often overrun by invasive plant species. By creating ethnoforestry garden beds, we will remove these plants and replace them with native species that can serve an important ecosystem function. Finally, by conducting student interviews, we will be able to better serve and enhance the experience of all students on campus.

Leadership & Student Involvement

This project has, and will continue to be, a totally student driven effort. If awarded, the grant will be used to fund a Research Assistant (RA) position for a graduate student in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. Each quarter, the RA will take on interns who will be able to have a more in-depth and intensive involvement in the project as well as receive credit for their work. The RA will also host capstone students who are interested in answering key ethnoforestry questions. In addition, the RA will offer consistent work parties to generate opportunities for students to get involved.

Education, Outreach, & Behavior Change

Instead of focusing on a formal and classroom based education, we will showcase how ethnoforestry can be directly applied. All students that participate will be learning from this process and can apply it to their own work. We have been growing a consistent volunteer base throughout this year and expect that it will continue if we received funding for next year. This has shown us that there is a need for this type of work on our campus. We anticipate that as students continue to learn from the project, there will be direct benefits and behavior changes.

Feasibility, Accountability, & Sustainability

We have worked hard to lay the groundwork for this project throughout this year. We absolutely believe that is necessary and feasible. We have received support from UW Grounds, the Intellectual House, SEFS, and the College of the Environment’s Deans office. These groups have provided guidance and feedback, helping to keep us accountable and improve our work. We believe that with one more year of funding we will be able to expand our efforts, creating a wider reaching and more inclusive project that inherently changes the way we understand sustainability.

Project Budget

We are requesting $70,000 for this project. This amount would include funding for one Research Assistant position for the 2019-2020 academic year, supplies and signage for our ethnoforestry garden beds, plant production supplies, and transportation to and from the ONRC nursery. We expect to use funds from Fall 2019 through Summer 2020 with the completion of the project scheduled for end of Summer 2020.

Contact Information

Courtney Bobsin

Bernard Bormann

Frank Hanson

Primary Contact First & Last Name: Courtney Bobsin