Urban Ecology Panel Discussion

November 21, 2018

On Monday, faculty member Emily Bosanquet and PNCA's Art & Science Initiative convened a panel of experts on the practices of managing invasive species through a collaboration between Native American Traditional Ecological Knowledge experts and Western scientists. The panel was titled Challenges & Opportunities: Understanding Other Ways and Working Together for Better Outcomes in our Urban Ecology.

Panel members included Mary Logalbo, Urban Conservationist, West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District; Janelle St. Pierre, Natural Resource Ecologist, Portland Parks & Recreation; and Alvey Seeyouma, Hopi-Tewa from Sichomovi Village and Wisdom of the Elders Crew Leader.

"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."-Albert Einstein.

The rapid introduction of ecosystem altering non-native species, often called "invasives," has resulted in the loss of native species and habitat as well as watershed functionality has many working on solutions to address this "problem." Western scientist has been primarily using integrated pest management as a process to solve this "problem," a relatively young and emerging science-based strategy that focuses on prevention, efficacy and minimizing risks. Many conventional western-science based land managers and educators working on this issue have taken a combative stance and declared war on "invasive species" in their outreach campaigns. Despite intensive efforts, and many individual successes, "invasive species" continue to expand their reach and impacts.

More and more collaborative efforts are now on the rise between Native Americans and Native American organizations that possess and have continued to practice traditional ecological (or environmental) knowledge (TEK) and those that have been using Western science to manage and understand the land. TEK provides another in-depth and intimate way of knowing a place, its environmental needs, and how people may interact, value and see the environment. This locally rooted and historically passed down knowledge presents challenges that confront the western science way of managing, seeing and talking about the environment and immense opportunities to work with different ways of knowing to achieve better outcomes.