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You are here: Home / Urban Forest Connections Webinars / Biocultural stewardship: Transforming our urban and community forestry practices

Biocultural stewardship: Transforming our urban and community forestry practices

biocultural listening session
Giles Ashford

Biocultural stewardship: Transforming our urban and community forestry practices
December 9, 2020

Lindsay Campbell, USDA Forest Service
Christian Giardina, USDA Forest Service
Frank Lake, USDA Forest Service
Heather McMillen, State of Hawai'i
Pauline Sato, Mālama Learning Center
Erika Svendsen, USDA Forest Service

Diverse perspectives and approaches to learning and knowing can strengthen our work in urban and community forestry. Indigenous and local knowledge is embedded in the concept of biocultural stewardship - an approach to working with communities recognizing that the stewardship of place is inseparable from the stewardship of people, and that cultural resources are as important as natural resources. A shift towards biocultural stewardship can help cultivate sustainability and well-being in communities undergoing rapid environmental, social, and climate changes. In this presentation, we explore the concept of biocultural stewardship and how it can be applied to different geographical contexts and culturally distinct communities, including urban settings. Dr. Heather McMillen of the Hawai'i Department of Land and Natural Resources will give background and context to the practice of biocultural stewardship and will discuss stewardship trainings based in a Native Hawaiian perspective (Hālau ʻŌhiʻa). Drs. Lindsay Campbell and Erika Svendsen of the USDA Forest Service will discuss how these trainings were adapted for New York City stewardship practitioners. Pauline Sato of the Mālama Learning Center will share their approach to integrating science, conservation, and culture with community. Dr. Frank K. Lake of the USDA Forest Service will reflect on his experiences studying wildland fire effects and management techniques using traditional ecological knowledge and methods of ethno-ecology.


View the webinar podcast »

Moderator opening presentation
Dr. Christian Giardina
Research Ecologist
USDA Forest Service

Part 1: The Importance of Local and Indigenous Knowledge for Urban and Biocultural Stewardship
Heather McMillen
Urban and Community Forestry Manager
State of Hawai'i

Part 2: Growing Plants and People to Create Community
Pauline Sato
Executive Director
Mālama Learning Center

Part 3: Working with Indigenous Communities: Fire Knowledge and Biocultural Stewardship
Dr. Frank Lake
Research Ecologist
USDA Forest Service

Part 4: Learning from Place: Supporting the Stewards of Stewardship
Drs. Lindsay Campbell and Erika Svendsen
Research Social Scientists
USDA Forest Service

Moderator-Closing presentation
Dr. Christian Giardina
Research Ecologist
USDA Forest Service


Resources Mentioned in the Webinar

Kaulunani Urban and Community Forestry Program focuses on improving the health and viability of trees in Hawaii's communities through educational programs; supporting Tree City USA communities across the state; providing technical training; administering financial support in the form of cost-share grants via Kaulunani's Grant Program; supporting Arbor Day promotions; and maintaining public/private partnerships

Fire and fuels research at the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station involves wildland fire effect, traditional ecological knowledge, climate change, and ethno-ecology with an emphasis on cultural management and fire ecology of forest, shrub, grassland and riparian environments in the Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion.

NYC Urban Field Station - The mission of the USDA Forest Service New York City urban field station is to improve the quality of life in urban areas by conducting and supporting research about social-ecological systems and natural resource management. This work promotes environmental stewardship and ecological literacy, works with urban land managers to create innovative solutions to urban resource management issues, shares findings with other metropolitan decision makers world-wide, and links UDSA Forest Service scientists and urban research university partners. McMillen, Heather L.; Campbell, Lindsay K.; Svendsen, Erika S.; Kealiikanakaoleohaililani, Kekuhi ; Francisco, Kainana S.; Giardina, Christian P. 2020.Biocultural stewardship, Indigenous and local ecological knowledge, and the urban crucible.

The Mālama Learning Center brings together art, science, conservation, and culture together to promote sustainable living throughout Hawai'i.

Mālama Learning Center staff talking about native Hawaiian plants and describing planting techniques. Ola Nā Kini: Planting to Restore the 'Āina (19 min 10 sec video-- can be watched in segments)

Hālau ʻŌhiʻa Virtual Training - "For me, Hālau ʻŌhiʻa is more than a program for professional and personal development. We are a movement. We are in the moving… towards reimagining and restoring our connections with the internal natural environment and the external natural environment. And when we engage all reflections of ourselves and A L O H A - we open up to the work in the most interesting and wonderful ways. It's THAT simple." Kekuhi Kealiikanakaoleohaililani-creator and teacher.

The Iākea online cohort that is being offered welcomes anyone who feels connected to nature and anyone who would love to feel more connected to nature. If you would like to learn how to connect more deeply to our relatives in nature through Hawaiʻi life ways...YOU ARE VERY WELCOME!! We encourage participants from all areas of experience. The Iākea online cohort curriculum employs what I have most experience in and that is Hawaiʻi life ways. I am told by learners outside of Hawaiʻi that the broader concepts are applicable beyond Hawaiʻi. Learning about Hawaiʻi things nowadays is not about geography or nationality. It is about mindset, perception, and multiple ways of knowing.

US Forest Service Resources

Giardina research highlights:  Hawaiʻian Islands carbon assessment, interactive effects of climate change and invasive species, effects of fragmentation, and effects of warming on the nitrogen cycle.