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A decade(+) of dendroing - coring, fire scars, and allyship, oh my!


It’s Kelsey here, joining you from the unceded and ancestral territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) First Nation in what is today known as Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I am currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Tree-Ring Lab at the University of British Columbia led by Dr. Lori Daniels, where our tree-ring research focuses on reconstructing historical fire regimes. My research specifically looks at Indigenous land and fire stewardship as a driver of fire regimes in collaboration with Indigenous and local community partners and centers on the importance of returning that stewardship to dry forests in British Columbia.

(Figure: Lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) from the ancestral and unceded territory of the T’exelc (Williams Lake First Nation) with three embedded fire scars in 1833, 1848, and 1863. The suppression of Indigenous stewardship starting in the 1860s led to a fire deficit in fire-adapted forests and a reduction in culturally important species. Today, these forests are more likely to burn at uncharacteristic high severities that threaten peoples’ lives and livelihoods.)

My life as a dendro began in 2009 during my undergraduate at Willamette University under the guidance of Dr. Karen Arabas. Since then, I’ve been lucky to attend two AmeriDendro conferences and a TRACE conference, but recently wanted to become more involved in the dendro community. Luckily, the Tree-Ring Society identified the need to have an Executive Council position for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and I was thrilled to be elected to this position in 2021.

(Figure: A decade+ of dendroing, from the oak forests of Oregon (top left), to the Atlas cedar in Morocoo (bottom left), to the dry forests of British Columbia (right). For some reason they trusted me with bigger and bigger tools!)

As part of this work, we wanted to provide the dendro community an opportunity to learn about allyship – defined in different ways by different people, but one that resonates with me (by The Anti-Oppression Network) is “an active, consistent, and arduous practice of unlearning and re-evaluating, in which a person in a position of privilege and power seeks to operate in solidarity with a marginalized group”. To do so, we organized the AmeriDendro Allyship Symposium in Montréal in June 2022 that brought together three amazing members of the dendro community to share their perspectives on allyship, and was followed by a quick crash-course on why allyship is important. This symposium was attended by over 70 people in-person and virtually and prompted important conversations about advancing allyship in unique ways. Did you attend? Let me know what you thought! The Tree-Ring Society is always looking for new ideas and ways to help support diversity, equity, and inclusion for the dendro community: kelsey[dot]copes[dash]gerbitz[at]ubc[dot]ca.

(Figure: Cover photo for Advancing (Ameri)Dendro Allyship symposium, held at the AmeriDendro Conference in Montréal in June 2022)

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