ESF Center for Indigenous Peoples and the Environment and The Nature Conservancy engage in transformational partnership



A new partnership between the SUNY College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry(ESF) Center for Indigenous Peoples and the Environment (CNPE) and Nature conservation (TNC) will serve as a bridge between traditional ecological knowledge and Western scientific approaches, adopting a “two-eyed” way of seeing and informing conservation.

“This partnership stems from shared interests and common goals to conserve cherished landscapes and biodiversity,” said Dr Robin Kimmerer, CNPE director, botanist and registered member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. She is also the author of the best-selling book “Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants”. “It is an opportunity for co-learning between the CNPE and the TNC and the indigenous communities, which are an essential partner in this work. ”

The four-year partnership includes a $ 800,000 grant from TNC and has three main components:

” New and strengthened relationships between ESF, TNCs and Indigenous nations

” Advancement of land justice by increasing the access of indigenous peoples to lands in their own territories of origin

‘Re-story-ation, which involves the co-development of a new narrative on conservation reserves that restores the engagement of indigenous peoples with their ancestral lands and gives voice to their views in interpretive practices , education and stewardship.

“We are grateful for the donation from The Nature Conservancy and excited about our new partnership. The donation will ensure that the work of Dr. Kimmerer and his colleagues extends across New York State and across the country, ”said ESF President Joanie Mahoney. “The opportunity for the NPP to shape the way people relearn history will be both impactful and important for generations.”

The partnership grew out of a meeting that CNPE hosted in 2019 inviting TNC, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and land trust representatives to meet with Haudenosaunee environmental leaders.

The subsidized doctorate. The student will enable the creation of a pilot project for TNC reserves in what is now called New York State, which could be a model for larger-scale conservation decolonization approaches. In addition to land conservation, the partnership is designed to advance land justice. A 2019 UN report documented that indigenous lands around the world have better conservation outcomes than public lands, due to indigenous stewardship practices and ethics.

“We are honored to embark on this transformative partnership,” said Bill Ulfelder, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in New York City. “Robin Kimmerer’s work teaches us about restoration and reciprocity and gives hope for a different path based on Indigenous relations with the living world.”

The Nature Conservancy is committed to sustainable conservation that actively involves people and partners related to the natural systems it seeks to protect. For generations, deep and painful challenges such as colonialism, forced resettlement and exclusion from natural resource decisions have undermined the agency and ability of indigenous peoples to manage their lands and waters. When the legacy of these challenges is met, indigenous peoples and local communities can lead us to a world where people and nature thrive together, as they have for millennia.

“Much of the philosophy of conservation in the United States is derived from a colonial perspective that separated land and people, and failed to recognize the importance of indigenous land maintenance practices,” noted Kimmerer. “Indigenous peoples have in fact been brutally removed from their native lands to establish public conservation areas, in deep acts of injustice. We also recognize that every acre of private land retained in the United States is on Aboriginal lands and the relationship between the original peoples and the latter lands was lost in colonization. This project recognizes and begins to remedy these historic injustices.


About the Center for Indigenous Peoples and the Environment
The mission of the SUNY-ESF Center for Indigenous Peoples and the Environment is to create programs that draw on the wisdom of indigenous knowledge and science in support of our common goals of environmental sustainability.

In addition to serving as a bridge between traditional ecological knowledge and Western scientific approaches, the Center integrates indigenous perspectives and knowledge for the benefit of indigenous students and works to educate ordinary students in an intercultural context. The Center includes a significant outreach component focused on increasing educational opportunities for Native American students in environmental science, research collaborations, and partnerships with Native American communities to address local environmental issues.

About the ESF

The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) is located in Syracuse, New York. The ESF is dedicated to studying the environment, developing renewable technologies, and building a sustainable and resilient future through the design, policy and management of the environment and natural resources. Find out more about the ESF on and follow on Twitter @sunyesf

About nature conservation

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s most difficult challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We fight climate change, conserve land, water and oceans on an unprecedented scale, provide food and water sustainably, and help make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries and territories: 38 through direct conservation impact and 34 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that involves local communities, governments, the private sector and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.

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