Molly is a member of the Adaptree team. She is working with Lee Charleson from the Tree Improvement Branch at Ministry of Forestry to identify preliminary work on BC indigenous persons’ perspectives on climate change adaptation with particular focus on seed use on Crown land. Themes addressed include climate change adaptation and strategies, the linkages between community economic prosperity and climate change, and identifying methods to develop an understanding of the First Nation communities’ beliefs on climate change. This project will be useful in guiding future policy development and consultation plans concerning assisted migration of plant species.
Here are some of Molly’s answers to our questions about her internship:
What is your academic background?
I am presently a Master of Science student in the Faculty of Forestry at UBC working on the GE3LS team of the AdapTree GenomeBC project. Before my masters, I completed a Bachelor of Science in natural resource conservation through forestry as well.
Can you describe your internship?
My internship was essentially to lay some background work for a First Nation consultation on assisted migration. As such, I conducted a literature review of Aboriginal priorities and efforts with regard to climate change as well as the plant-people relationship that plays a central role in many Aboriginal cultures.
How does your work contribute to the AdapTree project?
This work builds on the GE3LS component of the AdapTree project, which consisted of a public survey, values and perceptions study, and policy regime analysis. The AdapTree GE3LS team did not feel like the project timelines allowed for an adequate First Nations consultation component. By setting up some of the background work, it is hoped that the Tree Improvement Branch (the internship partner) will be able to conduct a well-informed and respectful consultation with First Nations who will be affected by seed transfer changes.
How has this internship contributed to your studies?
I wanted to get more exposure to Aboriginal literature and better understand the issues that First Nations face especially in forestry. I think conducting this literature review was a really good start and has inspired me to work on more projects with a Aboriginal focus.
Tell us a bit more about your presentation at AdapTree’s GE3Ls stakeholder meeting.
During the AdapTree GE3LS stakeholder meeting, I got to report on my preliminary thesis research results. My thesis project consisted of a values and perceptions study where I conducted 12 focus groups with 50 people in 4 forest-dependent communities in BC and Alberta. I hosted groups with foresters, environmentalists, and business owners and there were some interesting trends. Most notably, foresters perceived the status quo of using local seed and conventional breeding practices as much more acceptable than any assisted migration or genomic seed selection scenario. Meanwhile, environmentalists perceived assisted migration as acceptable as long as it featured a diverse species mix. The stakeholders present at the meeting were mostly members of the Tree Improvement Branch, which runs the tree breeding programs and seed transfer systems in BC and it was really inspiring to see them taking so many notes during our presentations.
Any highlights of your internship that you’d like to share?
I think the biggest highlight of my internship was getting to talk with Ethnobotanist Nancy Turner about Aboriginal-assisted seed movement. She is such an inspiring person who is prolific in her field and I got so much insight in our short meeting!
What were some of the challenges of this project?
The biggest challenge to this project was figuring out where to begin. It is just such a large topic and the Tree Improvement has not ever done consultation before so I just had to dig in and find the interesting stories to be told.
What other interests do you have?
Hmmmm… Other interests. Well I really enjoy knitting, gardening with my roommates, and skiing at Mt. Baker…. and eating donuts!
Any advice to future interns?
genomics.entrepreneurship@ubc internships are a great way to expand your skill set!