Tribal Nursery Innovation Project
Developing tree nursery workforce and businesses in Indigenous communities.
About this Project
The United States does not produce enough seedlings to meet national reforestation goals. This project scales a collaborative process to identify effective pathways to establishing Indigenously owned and/or managed native seedling nurseries on Tribal lands across the United States. This includes investments into nursery infrastructure and workforce development. Tribes and Tribal lands are well positioned to help meet ambitious reforestation pipeline needs while developing Tribal economies and generating culturally important plants with traditional ecological practices.
In partnership with the National Indian Carbon Coalition (NICC), Indian Land Tenure Foundation (ILTF), and various Tribal nations across the country, American Forests (AF) will serve as project facilitator and provide technical nursery expertise in co-creating a replicable model for developing Tribally owned and/or managed nurseries and building Tribal nursery workforce capacity through trainings, workshops, and internships. With nursery business models developed and Tribal nursery workforce capacity supported, Tribal nations will play a critical role in not only increasing seedling production in seedling-sparse regions, but also in planting and maintaining trees, and monitoring reforestation efforts on both Tribal and non-Tribal lands.
Working alongside Tribal partners, the project will produce at least one business model for Tribal nursery establishment that, when implemented, can produce over 1,000,000 seedlings annually. In concert with the nursery model, the project will develop and support Tribal participation in culturally relevant nursery workforce training opportunities including workshops, classes, and at least one internship to learn nursery best practices at a local seedling nursery.
Why We Picked This Project
Nursery establishment has direct implications for the pace at which America can actively reforest forest-supporting landscapes including marginal agricultural lands. Many of the NICC’s Tribal nation members are interested in developing reforestation-based carbon removal projects, but need locally-produced and culturally-relevant seedlings to implement these projects. This project has the potential to significantly accelerate and catalyze large-scale reforestation and restoration efforts on Tribal lands in the United States.
This project helps support communities themselves to build business plans and establish seed banks and nurseries in Indigenous communities so that global goals to restore the planet can be successfully implemented in ways that are culturally relevant and build on the rich traditions of these communities.
Our Assessment of this Project
Standards & Certifications
American Forests, NICC, ILTF entered into an MOU
Tribal nursery model exploration
Meeting with interested Tribal nations to guide the nursery business model process and identify Indigenous nursery priorities to center in the model.
Recruitment of Indigenous individual(s) for seasonal internships to learn nursery management best practices begins.
Recruitment for and development of training materials for remote and in-person workshops and training begins.
All training and internships are either completed or in process with completion prior to December of 2025.
Completed and shared with participating Tribal nations
Benefits & Impact
Nursery establishment creates economic development opportunities for Tribal nations that are well suited to meet regional reforestation pipeline gaps.
Tribal nurseries, supported by the project’s business model and workforce development outcomes, are likely to be located in the fire-impacted Western U.S. and will produce seedlings that are used in post-fire restoration on Tribal, federal, state, and private lands.
Cultivation of culturally-important plants (not just trees) are important Tribal foods and cultural resources – many of those plants are underrepresented on the landscape and will help promote not only ecological restoration, but ecosystem and socio-economic services, and Spiritual fulfillment on forested landscapes.
Trees and plants produced at Tribal nurseries will increase Tribal and non-Tribal ability to adapt to future climate changes by promoting climate-adapted reforestation strategies like assisted migration and resilient species selection.
Sustainable Development Goals
This project supports the following UN Sustainable Development Goals:
The activities supported by this project are solely attributable to funding from this project. The impact of this project into the future is considerable once seedlings are propagated and grown.