The Appalachian Mother Forest Guide

A mini-program for forest-related events at the Appalachian Studies Conference (ASA)

March 12-15, 2020, University of Kentucky, Lexington KY www.appalachianstudies.org

The Central Appalachian forest is the world's oldest and biologically richest temperate zone hardwood system. For thousands of years, human communities have used these rich native forests as “commons” -- as shared sites of harvest, recreation, and community renewal. This forest system provided crucial refugia during past climate shifts, leading some ecologists to call it the ‘mother forest’. In our current climate emergency, it can again play a crucial role. But, only if we approach the forest as a complex system that must be looked at holistically -- from cultural, ecological, political-economic perspectives. We need to find ways to integrate the local knowledge of communities with interdisciplinary scholarship, and to work democratically for good science in government regulation of all aspects of the forest system.


We have designed this as a participatory mini-conference within the ASA:

  1. To look at the forest from multiple points of view;
  2. To spark conversations among folks who do not have enough time to talk with each other (because of pressures to focus on specialized issues);
  3. To document what emerges in sessions:
    1. What are key questions & themes in our current work?
    2. What are existing support systems for forest stewardship?
    3. What are questions and gaps that should be addressed, but aren’t?
    4. What are emerging best practices and successes in cross-sectoral collaboration (practitioners, communities, scholars, govt.)?
  4. To compile the above documentation as the conference progresses so that anyone who wants to, can gather for a collective brainstorming lunch on Sunday to discuss next steps.
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