This project explored whether rural and tribal communities could increase the adaptive capacity of their forests, waters, and livelihoods by communicating climate science and engaging a broader, regional network of tribal partners to implement a climate adaptation plan. The Menominee Conservation District and the Red Lake Nation Band of the Chippewa Indians were the two Northwood communities involved, both of which depend directly on the benefits of the ecologically and economically valuable Northwood forests. The Model Forest Policy Program supported these communities in addressing their governance challenges, as well as adopting a regional, multi- sectoral approach to achieve more effective climate adaptation implementation.
The project team determined that: 1) the synthesis and translation of climate science for key tribal partners leads to more diverse stakeholder engagement in support of climate adaptation planning and implementation, but this has to go hand in hand with local direct observations, and 2) Tribal-wide and region-wide tribal engagement leads to more successful local and regional-scale implementation of forest and water management strategies for tribal and rural communities in the Northwoods. However, this takes time and effort, and has to be directly relevant to a community or region’s more immediate needs and interests. A disciplined focus on a limited number of short-term strategies and objectives that are both concrete and achievable is critically important.