PORTLAND, Ore. – April 28, 2023 – A coalition of partners has secured a $2.5M grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture to support tribal agroforestry and build connections among and between tribal agroforestry practitioners and the USDA in the Pacific Northwest. Over five years, projects supported by this new funding will build foundations for authentic partnerships and create opportunities to integrate and uplift tribal self-determination and Indigenous values within agroforestry. With at least 5,000 Indigenous producers and over 4.5 million acres of Indigenous-operated farms in the Pacific Northwest, these projects have the potential for significant impact for tribal agroforestry practitioners and the ecosystems and communities they serve.
According to the proposal narrative submitted by Ecotrust and partners, “Today, tribal communities and programs are using these agroforestry-related practices to support community nutrition, health, and wellbeing; develop new revenue streams; and advance forest health, reduce wildfire hazards, and support cultural resource protections.”
Tribal agroforestry encompasses the culturally informed, traditional ecological knowledge (TEK)-based practices that integrate the management of trees, plants, fungi, and animals to serve the needs of Indigenous communities, tribes, and the broader society. The newly funded project directly responds to feedback from Indigenous agroforestry practitioners in the Pacific Northwest that more effort is needed to reduce gaps, barriers, and opportunities for Indigenous agroforestry producers. And the projects are aligned with the goals recently articulated in the USDA’s February 2022 Equity Action Plan related to tribal self-determination and integrating Indigenous perspectives and values across USDA programs.
“We want to see USDA programs and services increase access and opportunities for Indigenous Agroforestry practitioners to own and manage lands and waters in accordance with their ancestral and contemporary practices and knowledge systems. Our project seeks to support the visibility and actualization of applied Indigenous knowledge systems and lifeways to landscape-level management practices like agroforestry,” said Stephanie Gutierrez, Ecotrust Forest and Community Program Director.
“Building a Community of Practice for Tribal Agroforestry Producers and Youth in the Pacific Northwest” is a five-year project designed by Ecotrust in collaboration with partners including USDA National Agroforestry Center, Intertribal Nursery Council, USFS Pacific Southwest Research Station Fire and Fuels Program, USFS Research & Development, USFS Forest Management Service Center, Heritage University, Hoopa Valley Tribe, Cal Poly Humboldt, Washington State University, and Oregon State University. These partners have worked together on previously funded USDA projects including “PNW Tribal Agroforestry” and “Building a Tribal Forestry Workforce in the PNW and Beyond.”
Building on past work, the new project will:
- Support the creation of a tribal agroforestry Community of Practice in the region, connecting tribal natural resource programs, Indigenous agroforestry producers, intertribal organizations, and other allied groups to create and share knowledge and best practices.
- Take steps to enhance access, relevance, and impact of USDA programs and services related to Indigenous agroforestry practice in ways that support shared learning and new, cooperative strategies.
- Lay groundwork for tribal forestry practitioners and the USDA to co-create and begin pursuing a shared agenda for cooperative research and development, including strengthening coordination between Indigenous land stewards and the USFS on new updates to the Forest Vegetation Simulator.
Key outcomes the team envisions from this work include Indigenous agroforestry practitioners in the Pacific Northwest benefitting from participation in the Community of Practice; growing interest and participation of tribes and Indigenous agroforestry practitioners in the Pacific Northwest in several USDA programs and services; increasing awareness of Indigenous agroforestry practices and examples of TEK-centered stewardship; and an increase in tribal forestry and natural resource program staff demonstrating increased proficiency and use of the Forest Vegetation Simulator.
Ecotrust creates and accelerates triple-bottom-line innovations to benefit our region and inspire the world. Our work is rooted in the region from California to Alaska that holds productive lands and determined people. On the farm, at the coast, in the forest, and across our cities, we work in partnership towards an equitable, prosperous, climate-smart future. We recognize the legacy of colonialism and the deep inequities of this place, and we believe that radical, practical change is possible and necessary. Since 1991, we have created durable change and sparked ideas across the globe. Join us at ecotrust.org.