Disrupting and diversifying the values, voices and governance principles that shape biodiversity science and management




Salomon, Anne K.
Okamoto, Daniel K.
Wilson Ḵii'iljuus, Barbara J.
Happynook hiininaasim, Tommy
Mack wiicuckum, Anne
Davidson Skil Hiilans, Allan
Gidansda Guujaaw
Humchitt Wigvilhba Wakas, Harvey L.
Happynook Mexsis, Tom

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Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B


With climate, biodiversity and inequity crises squarely upon us, never has there been a more pressing time to rethink how we conceptualize, understand and manage our relationship with Earth's biodiversity. Here, we describe governance principles of 17 Indigenous Nations from the Northwest Coast of North America used to understand and steward relationships among all components of nature, including humans. We then chart the colonial origins of biodiversity science and use the complex case of sea otter recovery to illuminate how ancestral governance principles can be mobilized to characterize, manage and restore biodiversity in more inclusive, integrative and equitable ways. To enhance environmental sustainability, resilience and social justice amid today's crises, we need to broaden who benefits from and participates in the sciences of biodiversity by expanding the values and methodologies that shape such initiatives. In practice, biodiversity conservation and natural resource management need to shift from centralized, siloed approaches to those that can accommodate plurality in values, objectives, governance systems, legal traditions and ways of knowing. In doing so, developing solutions to our planetary crises becomes a shared responsibility.


This work is dedicated to the ancestors who, over thousands of years, developed these foundational governance principles and passed them on to the next generation of stewards. Kleco to Umeek Dr Richard Atleo Sr for sharing his knowledge of nuučaan̓uł governance principles through story and reviewing earlier drafts of this manuscript. Haawa to Taalgyaa’adad Dr Betty Richardson for sharing her knowledge of Xaayda Kil Yahdas in the Xaayda language. ʔatakšiƛ ʔaʔasmucy`ak Thank you to Marge Touchie, for sharing her knowledge of nuučaan̓uł and walas giáxsi xa to Káníɫkás Desiree Lawson for sharing her knowledge of Haíɫzaqv. Huy ch q’u to Hwsyun’yun Skye Augustine for hosting our first Listening Circle in 2021 and modelling these principles in all her work and relationships. Kleco to Dawn Foxcroft and Kelly Foxcroft-Poirier for their wisdom and insightful guidance of the Coastal Voices 2022 summer gathering, where the impetus to broadly share these governance principles originated.


biodiversity, equity, environmental justice, governance, sea otters, kelp forest


Salomon, Anne K., Daniel K. Okamoto, Barbara J. Wilson (Kii7iljuus), Tommy Happynook (hiininaasim), Wickaninnish, Anne Mack (wiicuckum), Allan Davidson (Skil Hiilans), Guujaaw Gidansda, Harvey L. Humchitt (Wigvilhba Wakas), Tom Happynook (Mexsis), Christina Cox (Weiwimtaeek), Francis Gillette (Hyuuštulth), Samantha Christiansen (N’yasim), Dianna Dragon, Hannah M. Kobluk, Lynn Lee, M. Tim Tinker, Jennifer J. Silver, Derek Armitage, Iain McKechnie, Aaron MacNeil, Dylan Hillis, Ella-Kari Muhl, Edward J. Gregr, Christian J. C. Commander, and Arianna Augustine. (2023). Disrupting and diversifying the values, voices, and governance principles that shape biodiversity science and management. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 378(1881):20220196.