Integrating Indigenous And Western Knowledges

Current national resource policies cannot keep pace with the ever-increasing threat of catastrophic wildfire and drought. Additionally, these policies often fail to incorporate the lessons learned from the stewardship and land management practices of Indigenous peoples. We are supporting a partnership of tribes and western science to consider how current federal forest policy can incorporate insights from Indigenous practices to better steward the landscapes of the American West.

The theme of ‘Active Stewardship’ is central to this effort. Indigenous management focuses on stewarding the land for diverse objectives and conservation. It is not a passive enterprise but requires active engagement, long-term commitments, and sufficient (and sustainable) capacity to reach these management goals.

This partnership will develop law and policy recommendations for federal lawmakers and the administration. Specifically, we are developing proposals that focus on the Indigenous right to burn and co-management of wildlands, the management of wildfires for resource benefit, and establishing a sufficient workforce to meet the unprecedented moment we face in stewarding these lands.

Photo of the sun shining through smoke from a prescribed burn in the forest. The trees are silhouetted against blue skies, white smoke, and just a hint of low intensity fire behavior.

Project Leads:

Scott Stephens, Professor of Fire Science and Henry Vaux Professor of Forest Policy, Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, University of California, Berkeley

Don Hankins, Professor of Environmental Geography, Geography and Planning Department, California State University, Chico

Sara Clark, Partner with Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP, San Francisco