by Jenn Albertine
Mount Grace’s Stewardship program is adopting a “two lens” approach to our relationship with the land that we steward. The “two lens” approach merges the “high-tech” with the “TEK” (pronounced tech).
“TEK” means Traditional Ecological Knowledge – knowledge held by Indigenous people and passed down over thousands of years across generations. Indigenous Tribes sustainably managed these lands for thousands of years before colonial management practices brought the environmental degradation we are mitigating now. Their way of knowing and being in relationship with the land gives a different perspective of what the land needs to be healthy and thriving. Partners from the Nipmuc Tribe are now working with us to integrate TEK into our stewardship tools.
On the “high-tech” side of things we have begun to use satellite imagery to complete our annual monitoring remotely. Not only do these satellites allow us high resolution imagery to monitor for conservation violations but they also use infrared imagery to allow us to monitor forest health by measuring photosynthesis rates of the forest and tracking landscape level changes in hydrology and forest cover. We can track the regeneration rate of a forest after a timber harvest or storm blowdown. We can detect an outbreak of a pest, like the gypsy moth, that might be damaging the forest. And we can detect the impact of heavy rains on flooding and identify where mitigation could help reduce these impacts.
This “two lens” approach teaches us to not treat land like a resource but rather to be in relationship with the land and to focus on what we can give to the land in order to best care for it. In the process we not only heal the land, but we begin to heal ourselves.