Nina Elder helps to create collaborative, community centered, climate change adaptation strategies for areas altered by fires, floods, and drought. These disturbances worsen through historical land use decisions and anthropogenic global warming. She seeks to build partnerships to enact creative solutions that holistically reassemble not only ecological function, but also a sense of belonging in a changing the landscape.

Future Forest ⇌ Forest Past is an interdisciplinary, multi-sensory, multi-community platform for connecting people to the changing landscape of future forests. As wildfires are becoming an increasingly prevalent experience for those dwelling in the Sierra Nevadas, and all of California, it is imperative to evolve not only emergency responses, but also cultural understanding, communication networks, transformative infrastructure, and economic resiliency. Looking to the not-too-distant past, when fire was a natural cycle and was welcomed through cultural practices, Nina believes that healthy forests and human relationships to fire are still possible. This project is being developed in conjunction with an interdisciplinary coalition of cultural leaders, artists, social anthropologists, scientists, economists, next-generation corporate leaders and land managers, innovators and philanthropists with a shared vision.

East Jemez Landscape Futures (EJLF) is developing a response to the altered landscapes in a deliberative, inclusive, and transboundary way that incorporates research, land management strategies, and culture. Nina assists EJLF to work with artists and storytellers to determine the social connections to the Jemez Mountains, creating opportunities to incorporate those into formal land management plans. Cultural actions can be a conduit between the human communities and the landscape in a way that facilitates the development of research and management plans that intentionally honors the past and acknowledges the future. EJLF’s goal is to create a landscape that is robust enough to adapt to a warming climate, and a suite of resilient local communities better connected to each other and the land.