So how do we do that? We first need to build a rich understanding of nature—enriched by weaving together the stories, scientific findings, Indigenous knowledge, and lived experiences of people from across the country. The NNA is an opportunity to integrate and assess nature as seen through a diversity of eyes, to appreciate what nature means to different people, and to explore the future of our nation’s amazing natural treasures.
And of course, no one can do this alone. While much of the scope and details of the assessment are under development, we will certainly draw on lessons from previous initiatives like the National Climate Assessment, which engaged a diverse author team with a wide range of expertise and lived experiences. To be successful, this whole process must stand on the shoulders of all of us who benefit in different ways from nature.
Can you tell us a little more about why understanding nature on this scale is important? And in terms of real-life impact, what are some potential outcomes from the assessment?
Nature is all around us in our lives in different ways. But we don’t have a full picture of how it’s doing in our country. The assessment will give us the knowledge to make better decisions around investing in more resilient infrastructure, like using living shorelines to buffer rebuilt roads from storms and erosion or pairing bridge-building with watershed management to help the bridge last longer. We’ll also get a clearer picture of how effectively natural investments to combat climate change are working and the ways in which nature affects our food and water security.
Thinking about your professional journey up to this point, your work through the TNC/UW partnership has incorporated a collaborative and interdisciplinary focus. In the past six years, what are some of the moments you’re most proud of?
Over the years, I’ve been lucky to work with some of the most passionate and talented partners on a diversity of topics from environmental justice to climate change to mental health. To achieve lasting, on-the-ground results, conservation science must be interconnected with Tribes, stakeholders, students, partners, community members, and entities that all work together in real-world settings.
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