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Biocultural Restoration

RSC members are engaging multiple goals and ways of knowing, linking culture to nature, to restore ecosystems and rebuild cultural connections to place. SUNY ESF is home to the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment (CNPE), and many ESF faculty contribute to both centers. The relationship between the CNPE and RSC creates great potential for collaborations that incorporate scientific knowledge and traditional ecological knowledge in restoration, while promoting education and outreach.

braiding grass

Photo: Biocultural project during indigenous youth outreach programs.

RSC Student Research Awards for Biocultural Restoration

RSC Student Research Awards for Biocultural Restoration

M.S. students Sarah Howard and Tusha Yakovleva are working with Distinguished Teaching Professor Robin Wall Kimmerer to develop best practices for supporting cross-cultural research partnerships.

Biocultural restoration is the science and practice of restoring not only ecosystems, but also human and cultural relationships to place, such that cultures are strengthened and revitalized alongside the lands with which they are inextricably linked. Encompassing both the biophysical and cultural elements of environmental well-being and resilience, biocultural restoration offers a missing bridge that connects restoration science with the practices of restoring justice to the land. This research seeks to analyze cross-cultural partnerships for biocultural restoration, such that cultures are strengthened and revitalized alongside the lands with which they are inextricably linked. Research will take place in three phases: (1) compilation of a comparative database of existing co-stewardship models; (2) model assessment; and (3) presentation of sector-specific (i.e., government, academia, non-profit) best practices and protocols for partnership. The objective of the research is to assess existing examples and articulate place-based protocols and best practices in support of future cross-cultural partnerships for biocultural restoration.

Haudenosaunee youth visiting Follensby Pond

Photo: Haudenosaunee youth visiting Follensby Pond, an ecologically unique site in the Adirondack forest that is closed to the public. In collaboration between The Nature Conservancy and the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment at ESF, this 14,600 area was opened to a group of Indigenous high school students as part of Native Earth, a summer program offering land-based skills and environmental leadership training that incorporates both traditional ecological knowledge and academic environmental science.


Biocultural Restoration through Urban Community Gardens - Evaluating Synergies in Ecosystem Services

M.S. student Ashmita Das (Department of Environmental Science) is working with Professors Stewart Diemont and Theresa Selfa to draw connections between biological and sociocultural benefits in urban gardens.

Community gardens are an increasingly important feature of the urban landscape, providing a wide range of cultural and ecological benefits including food provisioning, increased plant and pollinator biodiversity, educational opportunities, community building, and an opportunity to connect with nature. This project combines surveys and interviews of community gardeners with field measurements of plant biodiversity and food provisioning capacity in order to explore the potential of small-scale urban agriculture to revitalize the relationship between humans and nature in cities. We expect that increases in cultural ecosystem services - the nonmaterial benefits that people obtain from ecosystems, such as recreation, intellectual development, or aesthetic experiences - may improve the capacity of a garden to provide ecological benefits, by encouraging environmental stewardship and facilitating the establishment, communication, and retainment of sustainable gardening practices. Studying this relationship between sociocultural benefits and ecological outcomes can help inform future restoration projects and adaptive management plans for urban food systems.

Morningside Community Garden

Photo (Ashmita Das): Morningside Community Garden in Syracuse, NY