Promoting Resilience and Adaptive Capacity of Forests and Tribal Communities in Northern California

  • University of California
  • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
  • Northwest CASC
In Progress

Within the Yurok Tribe’s territory in northwest California, tribal, public, and private land managers share the overlapping goal of promoting forests that are more resilient to climate-related disturbances through the implementation of forest treatments that are based on traditional tribal knowledge. Managers seek to understand how restoration strategies such as prescribed burning, tree harvesting, and fuel reduction can promote more resilient forests and increase the capacity of forests and human communities to adapt to extreme weather events, drought, fire, and pests and diseases.

Very few existing studies of forest vulnerability and resilience have incorporated indigenous or tribal knowledge. In order to promote forest landscape conditions that are more resilient to climate-related disturbances, researchers will evaluate Yurok forest management practices that are informed by traditional tribal knowledge. Spanning the Yurok ancestral territory, researchers will evaluate the resilience of five forest habitat types of tribal and regional conservation importance, ranging from the coast to the interior, and across elevational gradients. Forest vegetation data from prior and current studies will be used to evaluate the vulnerability and resilience of each forest type. In coordination with the Yurok Tribe and tribal community organizations, tribal practitioners will conduct site examinations at existing forest research and monitoring plots, and, where needed, establish new plots for monitoring. The team will examine how tribal practitioners’ knowledge of desired forest conditions and dynamics relates to standard data collected by Western science institutions. This engagement will lead to an integrated evaluation of resilience informed by both Western science and tribal perspectives.

This research effort will build upon and help actualize the Yurok Tribe’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan, which emphasizes restoring forestlands for ecosystem health, species conservation, water quality improvements, carbon sequestration, and improved cultural resources. Consequently, the project will assist the Yurok Tribe and other tribes in the Pacific Northwest in upholding their land stewardship responsibilities.

Data and Products