Diné kinship as a framework for conserving native tree species in climate change

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Climate change affects all ecosystems but despite increasing recognition for the needs to integrate Indigenous knowledge with modern climate science, the epistemological differences between the two make it challenging. In this study, we present how Indigenous belief and knowledge system can frame the application of a modeling tool (Climate-Forest Vegetation Simulator). We focus on managing forest ecosystem services of the Diné (Navajo) Nation as a case study. Most Diné tribal members depend directly on the land for their livelihoods and cultural traditions. The forest plays a vital role in Diné livelihoods through social, cultural, spiritual, subsistence, and economic factors. We simulated forest dynamics over time under alternative climate change scenarios and management strategies to identify forest management strategies that will maintain future ecosystem services. We initialized the Climate-Forest Vegetation Simulator model with data from permanent plots and site-specific growth models under multiple management systems (no-management, thinning, burning, and assisted migration planting) and different climate scenarios (no-climate-change, RCP 4.5, RCP 6.0). Projections of climate change show average losses of basal area by over 65% by 2105, a shift in tree species composition to drier-adapted species, and a decrease in species diversity. While substantial forest loss was inevitable under the warming climate scenarios, the modeling framework allowed us to evaluate the management treatments, including planting, for conserving multiple tree species in mixed conifer forests, thus providing an anchor for biodiversity. We presented the modeling results and management implications and discuss how they can complement Diné kinship concepts. Our approach is a useful step for framing modern science with Indigenous Knowledge and for developing improved strategies to sustain natural resources and livelihoods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere01944
JournalEcological Applications
Volume29
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019

Fingerprint

kinship
climate change
climate
indigenous knowledge
ecosystem service
simulator
modeling
cultural tradition
forest dynamics
vegetation
subsistence
anchor
basal area
forest ecosystem
forest management
coniferous tree
thinning
species diversity
natural resource
warming

Keywords

  • Arizona
  • climate–forest vegetation simulator
  • fire
  • indigenous community
  • Navajo
  • New Mexico
  • resilience
  • tree diversity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology

Cite this

Diné kinship as a framework for conserving native tree species in climate change. / Yazzie, Jaime O.; Fule, Peter Z; Kim, Yeon-Su; Sanchez Meador, Andrew J.

In: Ecological Applications, Vol. 29, No. 6, e01944, 01.09.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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