Why The Native Approach To Controlled Burns Has Multiple Benefits

Native Approach To Controlled Burns Has Multiple BenefitsTraditional tribal fire treatments can increase production of high-quality raw materials for baskets while reducing the danger of uncontrolled wildfires. (Credit: Tony Marks-Block)

Using traditional techniques as a part of fire suppression could help revitalize American Indian cultures, economies, and livelihoods—and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires, a new study suggests.

Researchers say the findings could inform plans to incorporate the cultural burning practices into forest management across an area one and a half times the size of Rhode Island.

Traditional baby baskets of Northern California’s Yurok and Karuk tribes made out of hazelnut shrub stems cost more than a new iPhone XS. They come at a premium not only because skilled weavers handcraft them, but also because the stems required to make them only grow in forest understory areas experiencing a type of controlled burn tribes once practiced but has been suppressed for more than a century.

“We must have fire in order to continue the traditions of our people,” says Margo Robbins, a Yurok basket weaver and director of the Yurok Cultural Fire Management Council who advised the researchers. “There is such a thing as good fire.”

“Burning connects many tribal members to an ancestral practice that they know has immense ecological and social benefit especially in the aftermath of industrial timber activity and ongoing economic austerity,” says lead study author Tony Marks-Block, a doctoral candidate in anthropology at Stanford University who worked with Lisa Curran, professor in environmental anthropology.

Cultural burns

The study, published in Forest Ecology and Management, replicates Yurok and Karuk fire treatments that involve cutting and burning hazelnut shrub stems. The approach increases the production of high-quality stems (straight, unbranched, and free of insect marks or bark blemishes) needed to make culturally significant items such as baby baskets and fish traps up to 10-fold compared with untreated shrubs.

Previous studies have shown that repeated prescribed burning reduces fuel for wildfires, thus reducing their intensity and size in seasonally dry forests such as the one the researchers studied in the Klamath Basin area near the border with Oregon.

This study was part of a larger exploration of prescribed burns being carried out by Stanford and US Forest Service researchers who collaborated with the Yurok and Karuk tribes to evaluate traditional fire management treatments. Together, they worked with a consortium of federal and state agencies and nongovernmental organizations across 5,570 acres in the Klamath Basin.

The consortium has proposed expanding these “cultural burns”—which have been greatly constrained throughout the tribes’ ancestral lands—across more than 1 million acres of federal and tribal lands that are currently managed with techniques including less targeted controlled burns or brush removal.

Tribes traditionally burned specific plants or landscapes as a way of generating materials or spurring food production, as opposed to modern prescribed burns that are less likely to take these considerations into account.

‘Fires with a purpose’

The authors argue that increasing the number of cultural burns could ease food insecurity among American Indian communities in the region. Traditional food sources have declined precipitously due in part to the suppression of prescribed burns that kill acorn-eating pests and promote deer populations by creating beneficial habitat and increasing plants’ nutritional content.

“This study was founded upon tribal knowledge and cultural practices,” says coauthor Frank Lake, a research ecologist with the US Forest Service and a Karuk descendant with Yurok family. “Because of that, it can help us in formulating the best available science to guide fuels and fire management that demonstrate the benefit to tribal communities and society for reducing the risk of wildfires.”

It would be easy and efficient to include traditional American Indian prescribed burning practices in existing forest management strategies, the authors write. For example, federal fire managers could incorporate hazelnut shrub propane torching and pile burning into their fuel reduction plans to meet cultural needs.

Managers would need to consult and collaborate with local tribes to plan these activities so that the basketry stems could be gathered post-treatment. Larger-scale pile burning treatments typically occur over a few days and require routine monitoring by forestry technicians to ensure they do not escape or harm nearby trees. As these burn, it would be easy for a technician to simultaneously use a propane torch to top-kill nearby hazelnut shrubs. This would not require a significant increase in personnel hours.

“These are fires with a purpose, says Curran, who is also a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. “Now that science has quantified and documented the effectiveness of these practices, fire managers and scientists have the information they need to collaborate with tribes to implement them on a large scale.”

The National Science Foundation, the US Joint Fire Science Program, Stanford’s anthropology department, the Stanford Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education’s Diversity, Dissertation Research Opportunity, and the Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences Community Engagement funded the work.

Source: Stanford University

Related Books

Climate Adaptation Finance and Investment in California

by Jesse M. Keenan
0367026074This book serves as a guide for local governments and private enterprises as they navigate the unchartered waters of investing in climate change adaptation and resilience. This book serves not only as a resource guide for identifying potential funding sources but also as a roadmap for asset management and public finance processes. It highlights practical synergies between funding mechanisms, as well as the conflicts that may arise between varying interests and strategies. While the main focus of this work is on the State of California, this book offers broader insights for how states, local governments and private enterprises can take those critical first steps in investing in society’s collective adaptation to climate change. Available On Amazon

Nature-Based Solutions to Climate Change Adaptation in Urban Areas: Linkages between Science, Policy and Practice

by Nadja Kabisch, Horst Korn, Jutta Stadler, Aletta Bonn
3030104176
This open access book brings together research findings and experiences from science, policy and practice to highlight and debate the importance of nature-based solutions to climate change adaptation in urban areas. Emphasis is given to the potential of nature-based approaches to create multiple-benefits for society.

The expert contributions present recommendations for creating synergies between ongoing policy processes, scientific programmes and practical implementation of climate change and nature conservation measures in global urban areas. Available On Amazon

A Critical Approach to Climate Change Adaptation: Discourses, Policies and Practices

by Silja Klepp, Libertad Chavez-Rodriguez
9781138056299This edited volume brings together critical research on climate change adaptation discourses, policies, and practices from a multi-disciplinary perspective. Drawing on examples from countries including Colombia, Mexico, Canada, Germany, Russia, Tanzania, Indonesia, and the Pacific Islands, the chapters describe how adaptation measures are interpreted, transformed, and implemented at grassroots level and how these measures are changing or interfering with power relations, legal pluralismm and local (ecological) knowledge. As a whole, the book challenges established perspectives of climate change adaptation by taking into account issues of cultural diversity, environmental justicem and human rights, as well as feminist or intersectional approaches. This innovative approach allows for analyses of the new configurations of knowledge and power that are evolving in the name of climate change adaptation. Available On Amazon

From The Publisher:
Purchases on Amazon go to defray the cost of bringing you InnerSelf.comelf.com, MightyNatural.com, and ClimateImpactNews.com at no cost and without advertisers that track your browsing habits. Even if you click on a link but don't buy these selected products, anything else you buy in that same visit on Amazon pays us a small commission. There is no additional cost to you, so please contribute to the effort. You can also use this link to use to Amazon at any time so you can help support our efforts.

 

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

LATEST VIDEOS

The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
by Super User
The climate crisis is forcing thousands around the world to flee as their homes become increasingly uninhabitable.
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
by Alan N Williams, et al
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that without a substantial decrease…
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
by Toby Tyrrell
It took evolution 3 or 4 billion years to produce Homo sapiens. If the climate had completely failed just once in that…
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
by Brice Rea
The end of the last ice age, around 12,000 years ago, was characterised by a final cold phase called the Younger Dryas.…
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
by Frank Wesselingh and Matteo Lattuada
Imagine you are on the coast, looking out to sea. In front of you lies 100 metres of barren sand that looks like a…
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
by Richard Ernst
We can learn a lot about climate change from Venus, our sister planet. Venus currently has a surface temperature of…
Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
The Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
by John Cook
This video is a crash course in climate misinformation, summarizing the key arguments used to cast doubt on the reality…
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
by Julie Brigham-Grette and Steve Petsch
Every year, sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean shrinks to a low point in mid-September. This year it measures just 1.44…

LATEST ARTICLES

trees to plant for climate2
Plant These Trees To Improve City Life
by Mike Williams-Rice
A new study establishes live oaks and American sycamores as champions among 17 “super trees” that will help make cities…
north sea sea bed
Why We Must Understand Seabed Geology To Harness The Winds
by Natasha Barlow, Associate Professor of Quaternary Environmental Change, University of Leeds
For any country blessed with easy access to the shallow and windy North Sea, offshore wind will be key to meeting net…
3 wildfire lessons for forest towns as Dixie Fire destroys historic Greenville, California
3 wildfire lessons for forest towns as Dixie Fire destroys historic Greenville, California
by Bart Johnson, Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Oregon
A wildfire burning in hot, dry mountain forest swept through the Gold Rush town of Greenville, California, on Aug. 4,…
China Can Meet Energy and Climate Goals Capping Coal Power
China Can Meet Energy and Climate Goals Capping Coal Power
by Alvin Lin
At the Leader’s Climate Summit in April, Xi Jinping pledged that China will “strictly control coal-fired power…
Blue water surrounded by dead white grass
Map tracks 30 years of extreme snowmelt across US
by Mikayla Mace-Arizona
A new map of extreme snowmelt events over the last 30 years clarifies the processes that drive rapid melting.
A plane drops red fire retardant on to a forest fire as firefighters parked along a road look up into the orange sky
Model predicts 10-year burst of wildfire, then gradual decline
by Hannah Hickey-U. Washington
A look at the long-term future of wildfires predicts an initial roughly decade-long burst of wildfire activity,…
White sea ice in blue water with the sun setting reflected in the water
Earth’s frozen areas are shrinking 33K square miles a year
by Texas A&M University
The Earth’s cryosphere is shrinking by 33,000 square miles (87,000 square kilometers) per year.
A row of male and female speakers at microphones
234 scientists read 14,000+ research papers to write the upcoming IPCC climate report
by Stephanie Spera, Assistant Professor of Geography and the Environment, University of Richmond
This week, hundreds of scientists from around the world are finalizing a report that assesses the state of the global…

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.