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Examining the Effects of Climate on American Indian Uses of Forests in Pacific Northwest and Northern California

A Northwest CSC Funding Opportunity FY 18 - TRACK 2 Project
Principal Investigator
Frank Lake


Start Date
End Date
Release Date


Tribal nations in the Pacific Northwest have distinctive, long-standing relationships with their aboriginal lands and associated resources. These relationships are being disrupted by changing climate conditions. Most scientific information about changes in forests and other ecosystems have not been directed toward addressing the concerns of tribal communities. For example, they lack culturally-specific information pertaining to tribal knowledge systems, cultural practices, livelihoods, food and water security, and economies. Furthermore, ensuring that research is conducted in ways that are relevant to tribes is difficult when those who produce these studies lack experience in working with tribes, and are unfamiliar with tribal cultures. [...]

Child Items (3)


Principal Investigator :
Frank Lake
Co-Investigator :
Jonathan Long, Kari Norgaard, Kathy Lynn
Funding Agency :
Northwest CASC
CMS Group :
Climate Adaptation Science Centers (CASC) Program

Attached Files

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“Forest, Oregon”
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The project proposal responds to Track III A New Emphasis on Social Science for Climate Adaptation’s Human Dimensions Goal 2, and secondarily, Goal 1. This work is important because it addresses the unique relationship that tribes, with their traditional knowledges and cultural practices, have with forested landscapes. This assessment focuses on the ways in which tribes rely on forest habitats and resources for their economic well-being and cultural identity. This assessment will also examine how changes in climate and associated disturbance regimes have been and are expected to continue affecting tribes, as well as the federal trust responsibility that public land management agencies have in working with tribes to respond to these changes on ceded and ancestral lands. Because resources important to tribes on public lands are also important to the general non-tribal public, the scope of this study is relevant to the larger public. The results of this project will improve understanding of and approaches for increasing the applicability of climate-change related management actions for tribal uses, collaborative management and stewardship of public forests that encompass tribal ceded and ancestral lands. The assessment will synthesize existing climate change, tribal and forestry related information to identify the main factors affecting tribal uses and interest of forests. Case studies will showcase specific examples of how climate-associated disturbances and associated political, economic and ecological systems affect tribal uses of forests, traditional knowledge systems, and cultural practices that represent issues across the region. The report will highlight approaches for promoting tribal interest and values in vulnerability assessments, adaptation planning, and implementation projects through collaborative engagement.

Project Extension

typeTechnical Summary
valueObjective/Justification: Provide an integrated view of social-ecological vulnerability of American Indian tribes to climate change effects on forest ecosystems (broadly defined) in Washington, Oregon, and northern California. Previous and ongoing work on tribal vulnerability to climate change has often focused on biodiversity conservation issues by considering potential changes in the distributions of species and communities of importance to tribes, or on more generalized social impacts to recreation and commodity production. However, broader assessments are needed that consider the distinctive relationships between tribes and the land, and the dependence of tribes on the forests to sustain their societal well-being and cultural identity. Unfortunately, the strength of these connections means that tribes experience disproportionate impacts as the forests and other ecosystems of the PNW change. Tribes are disadvantaged because the scientific information currently available is often not tailored to the needs of tribal communities. Addressing climate change is within the scope of Federal agencies’ trust responsibilities to tribes. This report fills a necessary gap in the existing resources for communicating climate science in the PNW by focusing on how climate change may influence the availability of key traditional foods and other resources, as well as broader impacts of climate change on forest ecosystems; 2. Background: Tribal interests and concerns in relation to forests and climate change differ from the non-Tribal public. Given the unique long-term and current cultural dependency of tribes on forests, there is a need for a framing how existing climate science can be more readily applicable to tribes, how tribal interest and values can be better incorporated and addressed in such approaches, and guidance for engaging with tribes in planning and implementing adaptation approaches that respect their knowledge systems and cultural practices. Much of the climate analyses to date in the region are at broad geographic scales based upon modeling projections that do not consider complex social and ecological interactions and the influence of management practices. These have been used to identify likely directions for changes in vegetation communities or various species (especially tree species) as expected future outcomes of climate change. Such information provides useful warning signs, but are not sufficient to develop adaptation strategies to protect tribal interests. As a complementary alternative to such “outcome” assessments, researchers have advocated for greater consideration of the current social and ecological context that renders communities vulnerable to climate variability and change; 3. Procedures/Methods: Synthesize existing ecological and social science information pertaining to tribal interests and values about the effects of climate change on forest ecosystems, eco-cultural keystone species, other resources and services, and tribal relationships with forests. Provide relevant examples of how to describe and frame such effects. Include examples of meaningful tribal engagement in climate science and forest management approaches that foster tribal co-management with forests across their ancestral territories; 4. Expected Products/Info: Assessment report, Webinar, and conference/workshop presentation to report findings; 5. Cooperators: Tribes, tribal organizations, federal/state agency, and non-governmental entities who can provide information to and would benefit directly from the study.
projectStatusIn Progress

Budget Extension

typeAward Type
valueInteragency Agreement
typeAward Number

Forest, Oregon
Forest, Oregon


Spatial Services

ScienceBase WMS


  • National and Regional Climate Adaptation Science Centers
  • Northwest CASC



Additional Information


Type Scheme Key
RegistrationUUID NCCWSC ebac2693-a304-4502-9816-02b50d350b56
StampID NCCWSC NW18-MK1381

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